You’ve dedicated weeks upon weeks, even months of your life to developing your new product. You sacrificed sleep, your social life, maybe even good hygiene to get it off the ground. Your product is packed with great features and serves a purpose that no other product on the market can do.
And everybody hates it.
But why?! Where could you possibly have gone wrong? Don’t all these consumers understand your pure genius?
If you’ve built a software product that simply isn’t gaining the traction you believe it should, stop and take stock. Be open-minded and take an objective look at your product as you consider the following four possible reasons that everyone hates your software:
1) You Built a Feature, Not a Product.
Sometimes, in seeking to create a new product, developers actually create a feature that does have a value add for the customer, but can’t stand alone. If you’ve created a feature that requires seamless integration with an existing product in order to work successfully, you’re better off partnering with the existing product’s developer than trying to market your feature as a stand-alone entity.
A great example of this is Google Chrome extensions. Google has given a variety of third party developers opportunity to make Chrome a better product through the addition of value add features. The majority of those extensions would not be successful as stand-alone products outside of the Chrome Web Store. But as an extension feature of an existing product, they can successfully provide value to the customer.
Is your software product actually a feature of another product? Great. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed at great development. You just need to repackage your creation through an avenue that can fulfill your target consumer’s needs more successfully.
2) You’re Not Building for Your Customer.
We know. We sound like a broken record. But—as possibly the most common issue holding back great product development—we’re going to say it again:
You are NOT the customer!!!
Stop building the product you want. Stop including the features you would use. Ninety-nine percent of software end users do not have degrees in computer engineering. When you present these users with a product that requires programmer level background knowledge just to use the most basic functions, they are not going to be happy.
Don’t create the product that you consider intuitive to use. Create the product your grandmother could use. Or at least your mom. Consider your customer. SIMPLIFY. And save that clunky, complex interface for the side project you build just for your friends.
3) You Ignore the User Experience.
How intuitive is your product? How much training or instruction will your customer need in order to use it effectively?
Especially for mobile products—if the consumer needs a tutorial of longer than about two minutes to successfully use the product, you’ve lost them. They’ll likely dismiss the product as too complicated, delete and move on.
A non-intuitive user experience can kill a successful product. In fact, when forced to choose, many customers will chose to sacrifice functionality over UX. After all, a button might take you from A to B, but if the consumer doesn’t know that they have to click that button, it’s useless to them.
4) The Product is Too Complicated.
This comes back to the function vs. UX issue. It seems counterintuitive to many developers—but in the world of software, less is usually more.
Too many features can stress users out as they struggle to learn to use the product. The result? They drop your product in favor of a competing option that does less but is easier to use.
This is when it’s time to think very specifically about your customer. How high-tech are their needs? What specific pain point is your product solving? Which feature is the reason consumers are going to buy?
Focus on the couple of features actually necessary to meeting the customer’s primary need, and let the rest go. A slew of superfluous cool features are not worth complicating your user interface. Resist the temptation to stuff every possible feature into your product and focus on a clean, useful and intuitive design.
Conclusion: Less is more. Period.
image courtesy of LanSmash on Flickr.