so Im positive this post will be misunderstood and well be branded as
arrogant, self-centered, customer-hating snobs. But here goes anyway
When you launch your products, customers will send you hundreds or thousands of feature requests. Just take a look at the Basecamp Forum or the Backpack Forum
the feature request category trumps all the others. Theyll want
everything under the sun. Youll hear about just this little extra
feature or this cant be hard or wouldnt it be easy to add this
or it should take just a few seconds to add this or if you added
this Id pay twice as much etc. Of course we dont fault them for
making requests. We encourage it and we want to hear what they have to
say. Most everything we add to our products started as a customer
Theyll post messages in the forums, send your emails,
and find your IM address and hit you up there as well. Theyll fire
requests at you faster than you can imagine. So what do you do with all
these requests? Where do you store them? How do you manage them? How do you track all these requests? You dont. Read them and then throw them away.
read them and throw them away. The ones that are really important will
keep bubbling up. And those are the ones youll remember. Those are the
important ones. You dont need to track or remember everything let
your customers be your memory. Theyll remind you.
How did we
come to this conclusion? When we first launched Basecamp we tracked
every major feature request on a Basecamp to-do list. When a request
was repeated by someone else wed update the list with an extra hash
mark (II or III or IIII, etc). Then one day we figured wed review this
list and start working from the most requested features down. Truth is, we never looked at it again.
Our customers constantly remind us whats important by making the same
requests over and over again. There was no need to be analytical about
it since it was happening in real time. You dont forget whats
important when you are reminded of it every day.
So, ask for
requests, read the requests, listen to your customers, and then forgot
what they said. Let them remind you over and over and over again.
Thats how you find the real gaps in your product. Thats how youll
remember what new features are really worth considering.
more thing: its not just about the sheer number of requests (we dont
recommend adding something just because X# of people requested it),
its about customers planting a seed in your mind. If they keep
reminding you of something, it forces you to think about it. Maybe it
is a good idea. Maybe it isnt. But at least its important enough to
consider if so many people keep asking for it. [Signal vs. Noise]