The Importance of Customer Interaction

Thu, March 10, 2005, 12:24 PM under SoftwareProcess
Over the last two days we spent time visiting client sites around the country and obtaining feedback on our current products & future thoughts. As much as I was not ecstatic to be offline for two days, I can't stress how important these kinds of events are to a developer. If you have the opportunity to go meet the end users of your magnificent creations, then go do it now. It is invaluable!

I could bore you stiff with the specifics discussed, but I won't. Instead, here are some general thoughts which I think apply to most products.

1. How do you please both the savvy and the newbie? The one that explicitly asks for XML export and the one that says this is the first touch screen device they ever came across!

2. It is hard to draw a line of where the features of one product end and another's begin. What's the point of offering features that drive sales up on this but cut sales from that - dropping the overall profit!

3. Should we abandon PCs and do everything in embedded devices (WinCE, not XPe) or should we dumb them down and have them slaves to PC applications? Everybody can be persuaded one way or the other; the devil's advocate always wins!

4. When you replace an older product, you better make sure *all* features of the original are carried over. There is no feature that "nobody ever used that, it was just there"!

5. Do users understand that this response is bad for my job security: "I love it; it does everything I want; don't change it".

6. Are shortcuts (i.e. having more than one way to do a task) good or bad?

While I ponder on the above (along with 4 A4 pages of notes), please bear with me for any unanswered emails; I will slowly catch up with 5 email accounts and hundreds of blogs, not to mention the newsgroups... hopefully before the next round of customer visits next week.
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