User input is critical to the success of any project, be it a piece of desktop software, a web-based app or a simple brochure-ware website. And I’m not just talking about usability testing, e-mail forms or demographic surveys, which most of us consider a necessary evil. The truth is that your project, and your creative skills, can gain significantly from involving the user in the process of building and improving your app.
Granted, user communities can be a burden to manage, but the happiness of that very community determines how its members are going to engage with your app. If you ignore them or cheese them off, they’ll leave and refuse to come back. If you do what you can to satisfy them even a little, they’ll not only stick around, but they’ll encourage their friends to participate as well. And once you do engage your users directly, you’ll probably end up stunned at how rewarding the results can be.
The video above is of a talk by Google’s Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick — who is also head of Google’s Data Liberation Front, and who we interviewed last week on Webmonkey — at the company’s I/O developer conference last May. Ben and Brian talk in-depth about the “lost art of customer service” and the complicated relationship between engineers, user communities and marketing priorities.
A must watch for engineers, designers and project managers alike. About an hour long.