Writing a Report without Reading the Book

Cathy Zhang, Girls Innovate! Teen Committee
Technovation (Part 4)

“Designing a product without studying your target users is a lot like writing a book report without reading the book.” Samantha Quist, Copywriter Central.

User interface and experience is one of the most important things when creating a product. You have to find out who your market really is; you must intensely understand your user. Who are they? What gender? Age? Their interests? Characteristics? Their priorities? Struggles? What they need? What they want? Most of the time, you think you’re targeting the right people, but you are not the user. Market research and user centered design requires interviewing your market, conducting surveys for possible markets, and studying your target users.

Lesson 3 and 4 of the Technovation curriculum is based on market research and user centered design. It teaches us about Lean Thinking. “Asking your target customers as soon as possible for feedback on your product idea allows you to ‘fail fast’ and pivot before losing time and resources,” and refers to a famous quote by Steve Blank, “The vast majority of startups fail NOT because they could not build a great product or technology, but because no one wanted the product!”

This year’s Technovation Challenge is about solving a problem in your community. But the key point is, is it actually a problem for your community? Or is it something you only think is a problem for your community? My Technovation team has decided on our app idea a couple of weeks ago, but we must figure out whether the problem to which we are trying to find a solution really is a problem that our community may have. Our app hopes to solve a problem that is related to groups.

To do this, we created an online survey, and are conducting it toward around 80 people of all ages: elementary, teenage, and college-aged. Our survey asks questions about age, thoughts and views on our issue, and their satisfaction of current methods. This survey has already sparked an interesting question for us: some of the college students are using an app similar to ours. For that, we will investigate the competing app: how it solves the possible problem, its notable features. The fact that some people are using this app, little however, shows that some people do have this problem. We do not know yet whether our app will really solve something for our community, and if it really is a problem, but we will await the results.

Thanks to Ann Saponara, Writing Mentor.