Ready? Here goes: Be curious! Ask your customers questions. Observe their behavior. Welcome and seek out their differences. It’s the first principle of our fledgling design language:
“Start from curiosity. Welcome and seek out difference.”
What? You want your money back? The title did say it was simple. I’m sorry if you were expecting something magical here, but that’s usually how it goes with the simplest things. They are uh… simple.
In spite of all this obvious simplicity, stopping to ask questions can be a difficult thing to do. We build web software for a living, all day, every day. We’re keen observers of internet trends. We know just what the people using our products want and need. It’s faster and easier to just build build build! I’m guilty of this more often than I’d like to admit.
Unfortunately, when you operate in this mode you’re building your product for yourself and not the people on the other side of the screen. You may be able to get away with it for a while, (years even) but eventually, it’s going to catch up with you and you’ll have a messy experience on your hands.
As a product designer at WooCommerce (an e-commerce plugin for WordPress) I can tell you assuredly, we have some cleaning up to do. It’s okay though! We’ve come to grips with the fact that we are not our customers, and there’s always more to learn.
Earlier this year we began re-imagining the WooCommerce experience. We took the opportunity to reach out and chat with e-commerce shop runners around the world. Big shops and small shops. Shops running WooCommerce and shops running on our competitors’ platforms.
We asked them about their stories: How they ended up in business and their previous experience with e-commerce. We asked them to walk us through their day-to-day routines. As the conversations unfolded, they identified key features they couldn’t live without. They talked passionately and at length about lessons they’ve learned, pain points with their shop, and how their e-commerce business fit in or conflicted with the rest of their life. Through their stories, patterns emerged and the foundations for a new WooCommerce experience were laid.
So, if you haven’t done it already, give this simple trick a try… it will change the way you design your products.