Finding a Product’s Place

Some of my colleagues recently embarked on a journey to better understand our customers’ perspectives and what is most important to them and their businesses. While reading about their learnings, I wrote down some things that stood out to me.

When we are tasked with working on digital products, we often get stuck in the weeds and think if we just build that one shiny new feature, they will have no other choice than to use our thing. If we build it, they will come.

We build things for ourselves, meaning we build things from our points of view based on our own experiences. Sure, there are benefits to bringing our own perspectives, but as designers we instinctually use language and communication that we’re familiar with (industry jargon) and think of how we would use these things, when in reality those folks are looking to us for guidance.

Couldn’t YOU be looking at my stats and telling me what I need to be doing better? Analytics is great but I have no idea what any of it means.

Small business owners do not operate under the same conditions or have the same priorities. Their schedules, activities, priorities, and responsibilities are vastly different than ours. With that said, our goal is to understand where we can provide value in places folks need it the most – making their lives easier by saving them time and energy they need to get all of the other things done.

There is never enough time! I can make my product great, or I can try to figure out how to write a newsletter. It always feels like either/or.

If we don’t take the time to understand their goals, needs, struggles, and successes, then we are setting ourselves (and our customers) up for failure.


By Thomas Bishop

Senior product designer focused on mobile and design systems. Prev.
Automattic / Wordpress mobile apps. Musician. Always be learning.


> It always feels like either/or.
This is the fundamental struggle — or the moment of a “plot point” where there’s a choice. Ideally you want to have the benefits of both paths. A great product gives you both, but with half the respective calories (wink).

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