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Your product is a vitamin or pain killer? – Part 2

5.3.2020 | 5 minutes of reading time

The first part was about your basic way of thinking. As well as answering the questions of whether it is time to change your point of view or whether you are already in the right state of mind to understand the motivation behind users’ actions and to link these results to your company’s business decision.

This blog is about answering the question whether it is possible and advisable to categorize your product. You will read about the distinction between a “vitamin” or a “painkiller” classification of a product. Together with the difference between “habitual” and “nice-to-have” driven user actions. This is a good opportunity to learn more about the basics if you are not familiar with them and are interested in a deeper dive into certain topics.

Quick link list for all parts:
Mindset “I am the User” – Part 1
You are reading this: Your Product is a Vitamin Or Painkiller? – Part 2
Talking to Users – But How? – Part 3
We Made our Homework – What Are the Next Steps? – part 4

Is your product a vitamin or painkiller?

Nir Eyal has used a good explanation to quickly describe the product you are looking at out of a user’s point of view. His explanation really got me hooked. Under conventional circumstances without edge cases where vitamins are taken for medical reasons, vitamins are taken as a supplement, by people who want to do something good for themselves. But it’s mostly a nice-to-have with a strong believe of maintaining a specific situation. Not taking them for a period of time is okay. Wherelse painkillers can be classified as a must have. Again, looking at a general understanding, using painkillers as a metaphor. Not taking them could sometimes not be an option. Ask yourself whether the product (or feature) you are creating or continuously developing, out of the user’s perspective is a nice-to-have (selective behavior) or a must-have (habit). Apart from that, what does it take to transfer the feature from a vitamin to a painkiller?

You want to be the painkiller, not only those vitamins.

Habit vs nice-to-have.

Habits are thoughtless actions of people, which are all based on internal trigger points. The user’s trigger to do a specific action sits within the user’s brain. On the contrary, external trigger points drive the user into an action, e.g. using your product. Be also aware, that some behaviors never become habits, as they do not occur frequently enough.
On the other hand, behaviour that brings only a minimally noticed benefit may become a habit because it occurs frequently enough.

When launching new products or feature, the future user mostly needs an external trigger and after a while the user will eventually adopt the usage of it regularly, as she or he is changing the trigger points from external to internal. If the product is solving a real problem of the user, chances are high that the user is likely to return more frequently out of her or his own decisions. In contrast to this are products that define users as “nice-to-have”. After some time, any kind of external trigger is always needed to drive the usage of the product.

Basic knowledge.

I am pretty sure you have heard of, or even used the strategies or methods that are listed in the different parts of this blog post. Maybe even for one of the products you worked on in the past. If you are not fully familiar with one or two things, don’t worry. There is plenty of material on the web, which explains them beautifully. A few pages or people from my collection I’d highly recommend following:

If you are keen on getting insights or experiences from different teams or companies, use the chance to participate in either meetups, listen to talks or podcasts, or even ask around within your company. I am quite sure, at least one other person has knowledge worth sharing.
I also do not want to dig into the basics too deeply, as really only one thought I consider as the most important basic:

Keeping an open mindset at all times and trying to be the user who should listen to you.

It can be very surprising how different all levels of communication and expectation are. And, at the end of the day, an open and transparent mentality will push the product into the future. It will create possibilities and chances to really understand the user’s expectations. Even before the user knows they were truly existing.

Actually, one more step should be included in every product life cycle while developing: testing.

The last team I’ve worked with, we decided to keep an “empty chair” for the most reliable persona, which we defined as most important for the product. The person was created based on real user behavior and research results using a variety of different methods. Whenever we were testing a small or big piece of software, we’d sit on that chair to jump into the user’s mindset and focus to constantly experience the product out of the user’s mindset and insist on that level of understanding. Focussing on how this particular user understands the product and if all steps are clear.

Part three will be published on Tuesday, 10th of March 2020.

It is about talking to users and answering the question of how to approach them.”

  • First steps to find out where you are
  • Creating roots when creating personas
  • How to trigger the user to use the product
  • How to emotionally reward the user
  • How to focus on user attention

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