Talking to Users - Cheat Sheet

In the wake of starting to talk to potential users for Heartfelt, I've found this amazing piece on how to talk to (potential) users: https://www.ycombinator.com/library/6g-how-to-talk-to-users

While I'd recommend you to watch the whole thing, I've summarized the video for myself to be better able to execute. Since I've already done so for myself, I wanted to share this with you as well:

Questions to ask a potential user:

  • What is the hardest part about doing the thing that you're trying to solve?
    Ex.: What is the hardest part about working on a group project with school computers?
  • Tell me about the last time that you encountered this problem.
  • Why was this hard?
  • What, if anything, have you done to try to solve this problem?
  • What don't you love about the solutions that you've already tried?

Another idea: Test your user interview strategy on yourself. Try to walk through a situation where you've encountered that problem.

Ask the person if you could record the interview. In any case, try to get as much information as possible saved.

When you have a MVP already that you're testing with customers then ask:

  • How much does this problem cost you today?
  • How frequently do you encounter this problem? Do you encounter it on an hourly basis, a daily basis, a quarterly basis, yearly basis?
    The best first customers are ones that have this problem very frequently.
  • How large is your budget for solving this problem?

And when the business has grown, to measure how close you are to product-market fit, simply ask:

  • How would you feel if you could no longer use <your app>?
    very disappointed, somewhat disappointed, not disappointed?
    Measure what percentage of people chose "very disappointed". If 40% or more chose this answer, you achieved product-market fit.
  1. 7

    Nice one, the questions for validation are so much inspired by the book "the mom's test" not sure if you have read it?

    1. 1

      The "mom test" is referenced but as something not to do.

    2. 1

      No I didn't read the book! I remember that "the mom's test" was mentioned as a reference though. Are there additional insights in the book? Tell me more))

      1. 1

        Read it recently, great insights. Covers the why/when/how for user interviews, user segmenting, problem scoping, the whole 9 yards.

  2. 2

    One of the most insightful things I've ever been a part of is "observed usability studies". We asked people to come in, sit down at a computer, and accomplish tasks using our software. A task could be anything from "first use" to achieving a goal.

    It was remarkable the things we learned. Many things were problems we were blinded to by our familiarity with our own software.

    You can easily do an informal version of this with people that you know using their own computers. Or you can formalize a study by organizing groups of beginner, intermediate, and advanced users.

    The usability flow of software is so very important. And it's very difficult to free yourself from the prejudices you carry with you from working on a product for so long. You can assume that you know what they'll go through, what steps they'll walk, but until you witness somebody actually use your software then you may be blinded.

    One tip? No helping! Just observe, at least at first. You may see people get very frustrated but isn't that the point?

    I will always believe that our software was much better as a direct result of observing people use it and then incorporating what we learned back into our design. Sometimes a simple word, when changed, made all the difference.

  3. 2

    Those YC articles are always amazing. Their podcast/youtube series was also really great if you haven't checked those out yet.

    1. 1

      If you mean the "How to Start a Startup" series by Sam Altman -- I watched that. So much gold there, enough so that I should rewatch that series soon.

  4. 1

    Great summary, this YC material is evergreen!

    I highly recommend reading The Mom Test. Actually it's a must if you want to build anything successful. What I found to work the best for me, is going through the whole book throughout a weekend. Great read.

    I highlighted the most important parts in the book, anyone can download it from here. https://drive.google.com/file/d/12FCqBmWPaZlCr07geKwWBBIydER9BSLT/view?usp=sharing

    I used the following colour code:
    Yellow highlight = “key insight specific to the chapter”
    Green highlight = “specific, Mom Test-proof questions”
    Red highlight = “general, high level insights, core implications”
    Blue highlight = “sales related insights”

  5. 1

    Interesting to see how the approach of the questions evolve from design and features of the product to pricing and eventually to retention.
    I'm currently trying to get as much information as possible for my business - which is at pre-launch stage. I'm building a B2B marketplace so I'm not really sure of how to intially connect with potential clients in the first place.
    I thought about doing free consultations and getting interest from people running startups or small businesses...
    Any thoughts on that?

  6. 1

    Nice totally agree with these question types! If anyone has spare time would love some feedback on this idea :)

  7. 1

    Nice, totally agree! What are good places to get feedback using surveys?

  8. 1

    Some good ideas here to stick on your landing page to help highlight the benefits of your product.

  9. 1

    This is fantastic. Love these VC articles. Thanks for sharing

  10. 1

    Exactly what I needed. Gotta jot these down when I get started with interviews.

  11. 1

    How do I arrange those customer interviews?

  12. 1

    @nearmint thanks for sharing it's really super helpful..

  13. 1

    I really like the simplification here!

  14. 1

    In reality, starting a project or business, is really just about getting to know the problem your solving for your customers. It'll save you a ton of time, both if it's a good idea, or, more importantly, if it is not.

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