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People Are Slow: How to Get User Insights and Innovate Quickly

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Just a quickie.

We all need to find insights about how to make our projects more relevant to users, but have only a finite amount of time to gather user data. If we were bigger and funded, we could do focus groups and A/B testing out the wazoo. Instead, I suggest you take a page from the Stanford design school (d.school) playbook.

Try to develop a very specific user Point Of View (I capitalize because they call it a POV at the d.school). When I say specific, I mean really specific. One person for whom you are designing. Don’t design for women, or moms, or moms with newborns. Instead, design for Sheila, the 28 year old mother of one from Menlo Park.

I don’t mean make the person up, just find a real person in your demographic that you can bounce ideas off of. Obviously your insights wont be as broad as if you asked 600 moms, but Sheila will lead you to places you wouldn’t have gone on your own. I don’t know if this qualifies as a “lean” start up method, or a “design thinking” strategy, but its a good plan either way.

Bring Sheila your ideas and prototypes as often as possible, get her feedback, and prototype again.

David, our guest today, was saying that in every case, the product you start out with will change dramatically before the process is through. Why not try to go through as many of those revisions as fast as possible, right now, while it’s still cheap?

For more d.school insights, take a peek at this PDF, its a copy of the teaching manual for Stanford’s Design Thinking Bootcamp. Full of nuggets that can make the life of an innovator a little easier.

Bootcamp Bootleg 2009

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