Don’t build what your customers ask for!

Friday, May 27, 2022

I know it seems backwards saying not to build what your customers ask, but hear me out.  We do user research and understand our customers and the market, so when they recommend a solution to a pain point, should we scramble to give them what they asked for? Or should we ignore it?

The problem is that your users/customers are not UX (User Experience) or CX (Customer Experience)  experts. So when they give a solution or a design to a problem, it’s probably not going to be the best way to solve that problem.

Asking the right questions
Dig deeper when asking your customers about what they need.

When figuring out what requests to follow, you have to ask the right questions. Most often than not, we tend to ask leading questions that we know will lead to the ones we want to hear.

Aside from that, customers will only be asking for changes based on what will help them personally and not all your users. You need to dig deeper; if someone says I think you should build an X page and have X, Y, and Z features, it will help me. You don’t just build it right away. Ask them the right questions so you can give them the correct answers.

The first thing you need to ask is WHY? They will have an underlying pain point or points that they are trying to solve.

Let me give you an example. I read this somewhere, and I agree with it. 

Let’s say your client asks you to build a boat; what will you say?

Will you say, “Sure, that will be a million dollars.” or would you instead ask, “What do you intend to do with the boat?”

The second question will lead you to the client saying to get to the other island.

This is where you figure out what the client needs. “I believe a bridge would be a better solution to what you want to do.”

But let’s take it a step further. Ask the client, “Why do you need to go to the other side?”

“To deliver a message.”

Now you know what the client needs. They just thought they needed a boat when in fact, what they need is a postal system that delivers their message to the other side.

Given that example, let’s go back to your customers. They do not have an in-depth UX understanding or know their options. Sometimes, they think they know the solution. 

But we don’t need a solution. We need an understanding of the problem. 

By doing in-depth customer interviews and creating persona groups, you will already know these pain points and then collectively design solutions. If the customer solution addresses a different pain point you have not discovered, you need to validate its importance. It might be solving something only ten people have a problem with.  

Asking the right people
Asking the right people results in better improvements for your product.

Does this also fall into the basket of asking users what they want? Never ask that question in an interview, as you are asking them to try to solve a problem and see into the future. They don’t know about technology or the skills you should have as a UX designer. People are also bad at saying they will do something and then not doing that thing; they can’t predict future behaviours accurately. 

Properly interviewing and user testing with your target users is critical to your digital product or business success. Getting this part wrong could lead you down the wrong path, which could be very costly. 


So test often and speak to your customers; I’d recommend two interviews a month as a minimum. With continuous feedback loops, you will be solving the highest priority problems for your users and continue to evolve your digital experience.

But remember, don't just build all the features they request.

It is better to be walking in the correct direction than sprinting ahead in the wrong direction. 

If you need help with UX research or strategy, then please reach out for a chat; we are always happy to advise and see how we might be able to assist. 

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Friday, May 27, 2022


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