Saturday, January 16, 2010

Value Isn't Enough to Gain Users

There are too many valuable products on the web to count. I use only a handful of them even though I'm sure that there are others that would make my life better.

There are two main differences between the excellent products that I use and those that I don't. Neither of those differences is functionality.

Difference 1: Products that I use find me. Sometimes a product finds me through a friend who loves it so much that he or she has to tell me about it. Sometimes a product finds me because it is sitting in a spot that I frequently visit. I don't randomly search for products that will make my life better. That would require too much time! Instead, I open the the doors and hope that great products will find me.

Difference 2: The products that I use demonstrate how they fit into my life and make it better. It's obvious that products need to solve a problem. What's less obvious is how the product's solution fits into my life. If your product requires me to change my behavior, it had better be extraordinarily valuable or I'll ignore it. Computers required that I learn how to type, but then extra value a computer provides is worth the effort. If the product fits into an existing space in my life, I can make the change easily. Riding the bus vs. driving a car - I'm going to work either way.

Let's assume that your product is valuable. If you think that most people will search for it, you're wrong. If you think that most people will be willing to change their lives to use it, you're probably wrong. Value is necessary, but not sufficient, for adoption.

Note: if you replace the word "product" with "service" or "idea," the same points hold.