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  • SPEAKER: 86% of app ideas are born

  • from a developer's personal pain.

  • These ideas are form apps nobody needs.

  • Developers believe research with users is a waste of time.

  • They perceive their app as a coding exercise.

  • To validate their idea, they ask their sister if she likes it.

  • She says yes.

  • TOMER SHARON: Meet Will and Dana.

  • Will and Dana are the co-founders of Noteo,

  • a note-taking app nobody needs.

  • Dana is 26 years old.

  • She's an MIT Computer Science graduate, she's a Trekkie,

  • and she has been coding since she was eight years old.

  • Will is 25 years old.

  • He's a Stanford Computer Science graduate,

  • and he loves Star Wars and LEGOs.

  • They met over a weekend hack-a-thon

  • here in San Francisco about a year ago,

  • and they liked each other's way of thinking.

  • So about six months ago, they started Noteo,

  • and they've been working on it since.

  • Will and Dana are failing.

  • They're crashing, they're burning,

  • and they're sinking $200,000 of seed money

  • that they got, without even knowing what went wrong.

  • I'm here to help you avoid their mistakes.

  • I'm here to help you execute the right plan.

  • Hi, my name is Tomer Sharon.

  • I'm a Google Search User Experience Researcher,

  • and I have been studying dozens of thousands

  • of users, of people.

  • Learning about what they need, what they want,

  • and how they use apps and other products.

  • I've been helping Google Search and startup teams come up

  • with products that meet human needs.

  • Going back to Will and Dana.

  • They have six big, big problems.

  • Their number one is they did not fall in love with a problem.

  • They rushed into launching a landing page

  • for a product they weren't sure of.

  • They had personal pains related to note-taking,

  • and they were sure that this is something people needed.

  • Just to be very sure, they launched this landing page.

  • And I did put an arrow here, but I'm going to use my lightsaber.

  • They launched this landing page.

  • And they collected people's email addresses,

  • trying to figure out if they're interested,

  • therefore if the app is needed.

  • But the only question that they were able to answer

  • is the one that you see down there.

  • Are people interested enough to give them

  • their email addresses?

  • They were never getting or gathering information

  • about what users need.

  • Their number two problem is that they learned from friends.

  • They interviewed seven friends and family members.

  • Now family members and friends are always

  • happy to give you feedback.

  • The problem is that they're biased.

  • How can they hurt your feelings?

  • They're your friends.

  • They're your family.

  • Of course they like your idea.

  • Sure, they'll use it.

  • No doubt they'll pay for it.

  • A lot.

  • Third problem.

  • They listened to users.

  • Now I know coming from a User Experience Researcher,

  • it sounds kind of weird, but bear with me here.

  • The first rule of research is don't listen to users.

  • Instead, observe their behavior.

  • When Will and Dana asked their friends and family,

  • would you use this app, would you pay for it,

  • how much you pay for it, they got really good answers.

  • People liked it.

  • But they forgot-- or didn't know,

  • or ignored-- what social psychologists

  • know for almost 100 years now.

  • We humans are very, very bad at predicting our own behavior.

  • Here are two studies that were done during that time.

  • This is a study from 1937.

  • The researchers went into classrooms

  • and asked students-- they passed along a questionnaire--

  • and they asked students, would you cheat in an exam?

  • And the students answered.

  • A few weeks after that, they came back to these classes,

  • to these students, and together with the teachers,

  • they were giving an opportunity for the students

  • to cheat without them knowing.

  • And surprise, surprise, there was

  • close to zero correlation between what people said

  • about their behavior and what they actually did.

  • 1937.

  • Now Will is kind of sarcastic about studies

  • from 77 years ago, so here's a study from 2012.

  • This was done in the UK with dozens of thousands of people.

  • The researchers went into public bathrooms in gas stations.

  • And they asked people coming out of the bathrooms,

  • did you wash your hands after you finished your business?

  • 99% percent of people said of course, yes.

  • But the researchers, they installed electronic recording

  • devices on the faucets in the bathrooms.

  • And they actually knew exactly how many people

  • did wash their hands.

  • So 32% of men and 64% of women actually did wash their hands.

  • There's a very, very big difference-- very big

  • difference-- between what we say we do and what we actually do.

  • There are many reasons for that.

  • Some people would say, they're just liars.

  • They're not.

  • We are having trouble predicting our behavior.

  • There are many reasons for that.

  • When Will and Dana ask their friends and family,

  • or anyone else, would you use our app?

  • They're asking them to predict the future.

  • Again, we humans are very bad at it.

  • Their fourth problem is that they

  • didn't test the riskiest assumption.

  • Every product or idea comes with a set

  • of assumptions or beliefs.

  • The riskiest assumption is the one that is core to the idea.

  • And it's also unknown.

  • Or, the riskiest assumption, if that's not true--

  • if the riskiest assumption is not true--

  • the whole idea falls apart.

  • What they could have done, Will and Dana, is--

  • and this is just an example-- they

  • could have assumed that this is risky.

  • Smartphone owners are aware of their ineffective note-taking

  • habits.

  • If this is not true, they have no reason to develop Noteo.

  • They didn't do anything to validate or invalidate

  • this riskiest assumption.

  • Their fifth problem is what I call,

  • that they're having a Bob the Builder mentality.

  • They rushed into developing a product.

  • This is what they know best.

  • This is what they know how to do.

  • They rushed to developing a product,

  • and they launched a minimum viable product

  • without even knowing what for.

  • They kept asking themselves, can we build this note-taking app,

  • instead of asking if they should.

  • In their mind, this was a coding exercise.

  • And a coding exercise doesn't require any insights

  • from users.

  • And their last problem is that they were perfectly

  • executing the wrong plan.

  • They developed a beautiful app nobody needs.

  • They could have validated or invalidated three things.

  • The problem.

  • Is there a problem, a note-taking problem

  • in this world that people care about?

  • They could have validated the market.

  • Are there enough people who have this problem and care

  • about this problem?

  • And later on, they could have validated their product.

  • Is our product solving this problem for this market?

  • And I give credit to Laura Klein,

  • who's sitting right here.

  • Thanks for that.

  • They are doing a few things very well.

  • I want to mention two of these things.

  • So in the past year, I interviewed 150 app developers

  • and startup founders.

  • And I wanted to know what are the questions that they ask

  • themselves about their users, or potential users.

  • And the good thing that I found was

  • that they ask the right questions.

  • These are some of the results.

  • I'm just going to go over a couple.

  • 97% of them ask, who are my customers?

  • 95% ask, do people need my product?

  • Probably the most important question to ask.

  • 89% ask if the product is usable.

  • These are very good and important questions to ask.

  • The second thing that is going well for them

  • is that they understand priorities.

  • They understand what are the questions, what

  • are the most important questions they need to ask.

  • And they know when to ask these questions.

  • I'm completely ignoring the invalid, unreliable way

  • they answered those questions.

  • But just having the right questions

  • and knowing when to ask them is a very, very positive thing.

  • So up until now, I talked about their six problems

  • and a couple of good things for them.

  • What I want to do next is suggest a solution.

  • Suggest a way to execute the right plan.

  • So say hello to lean user research.

  • Lean user research is a discipline

  • that is providing insights into product

  • users, their perspectives, and abilities to the right people

  • at the right time.

  • Excellent lean user research is of high quality.

  • It's not crappy research.

  • It's impactful, meaning it's not just interesting,

  • but you actually have something to do with it.

  • And it's fast, because nobody wants to wait for research.

  • Next, I'm going to introduce you to three lean user research

  • techniques.

  • The first one is called experience sampling,

  • the second is observation, and the third is fake doors.

  • Let's start with experience sampling.

  • During an experience sampling study,

  • research participants are interrupted several times a day

  • to note their experience in real time.

  • This is a very unique way of mining their reality.

  • Experience sampling is coming from a research technique

  • that was called pager studies.

  • This was developed in the 1950s.

  • Back then, researchers handed pagers

  • to their research subjects and asked them a question

  • several times a day.

  • For example, how do you feel?

  • Where are you?

  • And things like that.

  • Or what do you do?

  • And they collected these responses

  • and understood the lives of their users, or research

  • subjects.

  • The key in experience sampling is asking the same question

  • over and over again.

  • So for example, if you want to know-- if you ask people,

  • what annoyed you in the last couple of hours?

  • Imagine you asked that question five times a day,

  • for five days, and you have 100 research participants.

  • Quick math, you collect 2,500 data points.

  • This is a huge, huge, insightful, useful body

  • of knowledge.

  • I want you to try it out.

  • If you sit nearby the screen, you can use the QR code.

  • If not, access this URL right now.

  • Yes, do it right now.

  • And even if you watch at home, you can do that.

  • And you have an experience sampling question there.

  • A sample question related to Noteo.

  • It works!

  • Answer the question, and we'll go over your answers

  • in a minute.

  • And I'm going to play with my lightsaber.

  • Don't futz with it too much.

  • The URL is working too.

  • All right, I'm moving on.

  • So imagine you are asked that question five times a day,

  • for five days.

  • You're not always going to have an answer,

  • but you will in many cases.

  • Let's go over sample responses.

  • So here we have 31 responses to this question.

  • If you look at it-- just eyeball what you see here-- very,

  • very quickly you can understand that there

  • are several groups of things you can learn here.

  • Let me color them for you.

  • Some people are writing down lists.

  • Others are writing down ideas.

  • And others are just sketching stuff.