The importance of challenging your assumptions in product development.

3 simple things to consider when you catch yourself saying “if it were me…”

“If it were me I would…”

One of the most overused phrases I hear when talking about digital product development, product roadmap or product user experience is “if it were me I would”.Here’s a little reminder for next time you use this phrase.

Post It notes on a whiteboard

Photo by You X Ventures

Unless you are the actual target market for the product you are creating there is one key thing to remember…You DON’T actually know what the target user, audience or customer is actually thinking. Even if you DO think you are the target market for the product you are creating, most of the time you will find you are not. We create our products often on the basis of what we think our target customer will need instead of what they actually need. We see it all the time:

  • “If it were me, I would want to see this screen first before you login”
  • “If it were me, I would want to see this, this and this on the dashboard”
  • “If it were me, I’d want to receive notifications on this every 2 hours”

If it were me (the writer of this article), I’d want to know what my customer actually thinks before making any assumptions.Sure, there is a time and a place for assumptions, you’ve got to start somewhere right?

Often we can make crucial decisions based upon what we think we know, rather than what we actually know.

So what do we do about it?

I’m always about providing solutions rather than problems and there isn’t a once size fits all approach to this. Different companies will have different experiences and influences which mean they might know more or less about their target audience.But in summary I’d always remind yourself of the following if you’re ever caught saying “if it were me”.

  1. Never assume you know your market.
  2. Ensure you have data to back up your claim, whether it’s from competitors, real market research or previous experience.
  3. Ask your market. If you can this will always get you the best results.

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