Another software gem from Dave Winer–be a user and listen to users. Hopefully, he will continue to build out this advice, but I thought it was valuable to pull it out and highlight here:
1. Be a user. Develop apps you yourself have a use for. If you don’t have a feeling for what it’s like to be a user, you’ll never know how to evolve the products, and the stuff you learn in #2 will never make sense.
2. Listen to users. Learning how to code is straightforward, it takes time to perfect your skills, but it’s relatively easy compared to the skill of listening. I recently suggested to a VC friend that we start a company whose sole differentiator is that it strives to perfect the art of listening to users.
I think social media and Web 2.0 are making it easier for us to listen to users–trying to use our software as well as get things done. Unfortunately, we often don’t put the effort into making it easy to hear and listen for our users.
We just added GetSatisfaction.com and the Feedback tab (widget) into all of our applications. Hopefully, that will make it easier for them to talk to us. In addition, we are becoming more active in energizing and engaging our user community.
Still, the methodology for listening is not perfected. More thought and innovation is needed…
Ideas? What are you doing to listen better to your users?