Product Development June 12, 2020

I hear "talking to users" is the best way to validate and improve and yet, I struggle to find people to talk to to do this. Anyone else?

Anthony @anthonyKap

Would love to hear how you guys manage to do this. I talk to my friends/family but they're not always the most relevant user. Its hard enough finding users to try your product and often times they're not interested in hopping on a call to give feedback.

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    I would check your remarks with a lot of care.

    Its hard enough finding users to try your product

    Then, I wonder if you are doing something people actually want. If you are going to struggle that much to find customers, how are you planning to survive?

    The "Talking to users" should be restated as "learning from users". Talking is only one way of learning. What you should ask yourself is how do you know that you are building something that people want. Better said, how do you know you are delivering the highest value to your users, possibly with the lower cost for you. You don't necessarily need to talk, you can see and measure how they interact with your tool. You could offer two variations, and see which one gets more subscriptions to a waiting list.

    If you actually want to reach out and talk, then you can try to offer something in return. For example, pick up the phone for 1/2 hour and you'll get one year for free. If you charge 5U$/month, one year free service is only 60U$, a bit less than the hourly rate of a freelance developer in Europe, and for you is virtually 0 cost. For some users, knowing that they can shape the product they use is already enough, but this will highly depend on the industry you are in, and who your customers are.

    If you are really trying to build a business, then you should always include your customers on the building in order to maximize your success. How you include them, however, is a matter of being smart, not following a fixed recipe.

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      Yeah you're right the end goal is to learn. One way is to measure their use of the tool like you said, but you need users in the first place to try you product. I'm a fan of the experimental process but I feel there's a lot of data that goes missing here. For example, if landing page A is more successful than landing page B, we can figure out A is better, but why don't people like B? Sure you can figure this out by introducing small incremental changes, but you need to do a lot of experiments to learn little.
      I like your idea of offering free saas subscription though. I realize I just need to get some users first. Thanks for you input.

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        A/B testing is one way of testing, but, as you say, it can be expensive in terms of time and number of users needed to have statistical relevance. But what you are forgetting is that the tests should be designed, they are not random. If you want to test whether people prefer to pay yearly or monthly, for example, you just introduce those variations. It doesn't really matter why someone prefers A over B, what matters is that you now know they prefer it. So, if you have to chose whether building A or B, I would argue that you should focus on A.

        Another different topic is if you are trying to measure what landing page converts better, even if the product you offer is the same. For what I understand you are very far away from that kind of optimization. You don't even know yet whether people actually want what you are building. Once you know that, you can start polishing up other aspects. There is only so much you can gain from better landing pages if the underlying product is not good.

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    Absolutely! I feel that it is one of the biggest lies that we're told as new startup founders: people will give you feedback.

    For perspective, we are 8.5 years in continual development, and RiteKit has four standalone SaaS products, and a 17-endpoint monetized API. We just reached 420K completed registrations. Nearly all of them immediately begin free trials of one or more of the SaaS products / others start with our API.

    VERY, very rarely will someone do a call with us. Sometimes two months goes by that not one will do so.

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      That's pretty amazing! At least with 420k registrations, you can know the idea is validated. How do you release features at that point then? Is it based on that small feedback you do get? And how would you know if what you release was positive or negative?

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        Thanks! Validated, yes, and with customers as well.

        We seek feedback, rarely get it, and sometimes need to just guess. We'll see an opportunity to build something into one of the products/API, and then hunt for evidence of a need for it. However, we sometimes presume incorrectly.

        We spent two months on a product that brings in just hundreds of dollars, so, that was a waste of time. The decision-making process was sound, however. We just need to understand that we wont prioritize the right thing every time.

        I mainly wanted to encourage those who might be fooled into believing that it's only them who is failing to get people talking with them.

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    Hi Anthony, I'm upvoting your post. I'm having the same struggle at the moment and I find discussions on this post very valuable. I hope there are more people that will share their insights.