Building for the World: Your Customers Aren’t All Like You

February 3, 2021

Startups all face a double-edged sword: they build a solution for a problem they themselves face.  This often works well because not only are they intrinsically passionate about finding a simple, intuitive solution – they’re going to be using it themselves, after all! – but they understand the problem first-hand.

This phenomenon also unearths a weakness that many startups face – they build for themselves and forget about people not similar to them.

People criticize the derth of nightclub-finding and instant-poking apps.  They moan about the lack of startups interested in senior care or clean water.  It might seem petty, but it makes sense – the founders are building products for people like them.  So we get a bunch of apps catering to bored, adventurous and lonely twenty-somethings and not apps for dealing with dirty water.

At Sniply we think hard about how we can make Sniply work for people not like us.   These differences usually fall into three categories:

  1. Technological Differences – Many marketers and business owners are on Internet Explorer 7.   Japanese visitors are dominantly iPhone users.  Over half of our customers use Sniply on screens less than 1200 pixels wide.  We design and develop to make their experiences excellent, not just for people like us.
  2. Cultural/Geographic Differences – Sniply is a global tool.  More than half of our customers come from outside North America and we realize that they deserve an inspired experience as well – that’s why we stay up late at night here to help them when they’re just waking up.
  3. Purpose Differences – We’re a small tech startup.  Our marketing is vastly different than a car dealership in Denham, Australia or a fashion brand in Tokyo.  We built Sniply to be extremely customizable and as a platform for people to build messages for their audience, because they know their audience better than we do.

The simple fact is, the vast majority of people aren’t like you.  Build great experiences for them too!

An interesting additional facet to this way of thinking is when looking at how people use your product.  It’s great to design your product for optimal usage, but who’s optimal is it?  With Sniply it’s easy to forget people who are just onboarding and haven’t used Sniply a lot.  In contrast to my Sniply dashboard which has over 600 snips, months of analytics and diverse usage of our various features, people visiting Sniply for the first time have very little data.  Everyone will have a time when they are just starting with your product – getting them off with a great experience is key to a lasting relationship!

Through technology and the products we build, we as designers and developers have the power to impact people in greater numbers than before.  It’s important that we build great experiences for everyone, not just people who look and act like us.

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