As many of you are aware I’m in the process of designing the next version of our project management software, Copper Project version 5. This process is a long and winding road. I read every piece of feedback we get from customers, analyse the usage metrics on the current version, and read the survey responses. Often customers have direct requirements, sometimes they give vague ones, but I still love the fact that I have a dialogue with you all.
While we’re a small team, we’re experienced, and skilful at what we do. I realise our job isn’t to “add feature xyz already, and make it blue, and put it in the corner!” (which is the most frequent form of customer feedback) but rather to INTERPRET what is required based on the collective personal/business pains that my customers are experiencing and sometimes deliver something that is counterintuitive but a MUCH better solution. This often happens when we agonize about removing features from the product.
I tended to feel guilty about this process, until I read this from Steve Jobs:
Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that aren’t on the page.
You probably know from my last posts that Steve Jobs was and still is one of my personal heroes, so this next version will be dedicated to him. This is already a week old and things have changed, but here is a sneak peak of our new project screen. We start by adding the most amount of complexity you will experience on a screen, then see if we can whittle it down to a simple visual and structural hierarchy.
I hope you like where we’re going with it! Let’s have a dialogue!
Ben Prendergast – CEO