Over and over I am faced with the challenge of improving or evaluating things in my professional life. Typical questions are often the same:
- Is the design clear?
- Are the contents understandable?
- Is the solution technically flawless?
Everyone has a subjective opinion or at least should be able to have one. That means: if we ask colleagues, friends and customers for feedback, we get an answer. Most of the time, you get even more opinions than you asked participants for feedback. It is the same with suggestions and concepts: something is written quickly. But how do we determine whether objections are justified, solutions work, and customers are happy?
The bad answer first: there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every setup is different: Even if products, prices, target group, technical implementation, and so on are similar, the results can differ significantly in the end. I was able to observe this, in my work in ecommerce, where the same product was performed totally differently on separate platforms. Applied to IT projects, this simply means that the team with the most money or the supposedly best product does not win: Success is based on the right mix of ingredients.
When evaluating concepts, templates and solutions, one of the most important qualities is experience. Because if you did something wrong three times, you are more likely to get it right the fourth time than without the experience of a failure. But you don’t always have to fail to gain experience. You also gain experience through colleagues and further training. The most important question from more than 20 years in product and software development for me is ultimately the question of “why?”:
- Why this headline?
- Why this sentence?
- Why this picture?
- Why this order?
- Why this programming language?
- Why this marketing channel?
- Why this colleague?
- Why this turnover?
- Why this customer?
- Why not more customers?
Through years of practical application of project planning and conversion optimization, I have learned to evaluate digital solutions incredibly quickly. I can say within a short time whether a professional is behind an implementation or not. Solutions from large companies are usually more sophisticated than those from small ones. For one specific reason: large companies employ quite a few external consultants, agencies, product managers, marketing professionals, and IT experts.
By asking the question of “Why?” and with a little practice you can quickly discover weak points yourself. But even without big experiences, there are a few tricks:
- The important comes first, the unimportant after, leaving out the superfluous.
- Conceive solutions for the ignorant user and describe them from the perspective of a third party.
- Reward users and anticipate the next step.
My conclusion: Often application problems are not to be found in the IT implementation, but in those who design these projects or are responsible for them.