VideoTape Interviews with Potential Users

First let me admit that I didn’t consider myself a fan of Seth Godin. Maybe not his fault, but I was just annoyed by a bunch of Godin groupies that I felt over-simplified his ideas. Maybe it was all in my mind, but I felt I kept hearing Godin groupies telling me to think outside of the box and come up with sexy new ideas. But I had just stumbled into the box that would bring us success if we could just properly focus and execute on the incremental improvements that our users were begging for.

But I digress. I absolutely love Seth Godin’s blog. I get these nice little insights in my e-mail everyday.

Today Seth’s The Best Way to Make an Internal Sale focused on a technique Google uses — videotaped interviews with users (or potential users). Godin focuses on using these videos to convince those around you. My problem isn’t really convincing others, I get the support I need. I’m the one who needs to see these videos to help me understand our users.

In this video, Google discovers that people don’t know what a browser is. When you spend all day with people who can tell you what percentage of the market Opera and Safari have, watching this video is an excellent wake up call. We in product management have to continually remind ourselves that most of our users have devoted their lives to other quests. I spend about 2 1/2 hours a day driving, but I know nothing about what’s under the hood. I like food, but I know little about cooking and nutrition. Our users spend lots of time on the web, but they don’t live and breathe it the way we do, and we have to design our products with that in mind.

If you’re a geek, watch the video and see if it scares you as much as it scared me.