I'd encourage anyone starting a startup to become one of its users, however unnatural it seems.
— Paul Graham Organic Startup Ideas
In practice, though, this can be difficult:
- As a developer, you're just not representative of the intended audience.
- You're [appropriately] focused on the product's next iteration, while your audience is occupied with the current state.
- You spend countless hours focused on product details—of course it's a challenge to empathize with a casual visitor's first impression.
Keeping it Real
We've tried some best practices to overcome these tendencies. User feedback is emailed to everyone in the company. Engineers share customer support responsibilities. But one simple tool has been surprisingly useful: we stole a page from the agile development handbook and built an information radiator. Like a kanban board, news ticker, or analytics wall board, our information radiator gives us an ambient awareness of end users' experiences. How?
It's our site, as a slideshow.