View this email in your browser

Basic Problem

👋 Hey all

Great to see you again! Welcome back to my newsletter about product ideas, building side projects, indie hacking, and problems worth solving.

This is "vacation edition" 2 of 4 and therefore slightly shorter/ different than usual. I am currently moving outside my usual patterns, which is great to observe things from a different angle and to get different points of view. That's great for new ideas and impulses.

Let's get into it.

🤝 Support vs Paternalism

How do you want to treat your users and customers? As grown-ups and your job is to get their job done? Or do you think you need to guide them step by step? Agreed, this is more like a rhetorical question (to me). The thing is, that the former is either amazing when experienced or so good that you don't even notice. And the latter always annoys me or makes me angry. Let me give you some examples.

I'm writing this on an old mid-2012 MacBook Air. On my bedside table, there's a venerable iPad 3. Both introduced me to macOS or iOS, respectively. And after 9 years, I still sometimes think "it can't simply be to just <xyz>, can it...?" and that weird chevron thing to change directories in the file picker reliably annoys me. Both operating systems are great to simply get things done and still I miss something: expert mode. Give me the option to take back control over things instead of stubbornly hiding everything from me. (Yes, I love the terminal.)

Let's look at a web example. At OS level, my language settings are German. So is my browser UI, with the preferred language to display websites set to English. And when in France, Google search results are displayed in French. Because, why not?!? To change this, I have to find the regional settings in Google search. In addition, when I want German and English search results, there's another setting to change the language for those. When I want to filter results for a specific language, I have only two options: "any language" or "German and English". And the list goes on and on. This is a user nightmare and the other extreme: I do have options, but the experience is terrible.

In my day job, we also develop machine learning solutions. There's a striking common feature customers ask for: develop systems that support our users instead of making decisions for them. Sure, that's a great way to introduce change and take away fears of "the machine replacing you." But it also is a great way to make the user feel like the expert and the one who has the final say. That's what I love about many text-generating, GPT-3-based solutions: they feel like magic and give me suggestions I can use.

Let the final example be user onboarding. I think we all agree that user onboarding is essential for any successful product. And yet again, I experienced two kinds: the paternalistic one and the supporting one. The former simply forces you into tutorial mode where you either finish the "course" or you abort and it's gone forever. The latter simply asks "do you need help?". If not, it still gives me the option to (re-)start the onboarding later. (By the way, the same applies to the introduction of new features.) That is what I consider great user support: do not assume anything or make decisions, but simply ask and collaborate.

So let this be our indie hacker rallying call. Let us build products and solutions that give our customers autonomy, make them feel like experts, and support them on their way to mastery.

💬 Social Listening

Listen on social networks to find out what people are looking for.

Top "request for product" tweets on Twitter:

Selected "someone invent" tweets on Twitter:

📚 Worth Reading

Not all good products make good businesses (2016) - Introduces a simple and quick way to categorize a problem you have uncovered. Money quote: "Some problems persist because they’re quite simply not worth solving."

The Power of Product Thinking - Important for anyone creating solutions and therefore gold for indie hackers. Start asking questions like "which decisions seem the most responsible for [some product's] success? Why?", "how would you help Product X win over Audience Y if you were its leader?", and "take Problem Z … What would you design to solve it?"

Newsletters were supposed to be the Wild West. Enter Sheriff Google. ($) - Spam is one thing. Google's "Promotions" folder something totally different. Read about this arbitrary filter and one reason for lost emails. I totally feel the pain resulting from it.

Why Has Local News Collapsed? Blame Readers. - (Hyper-)Localized news is a niche and therefore a potential area of interest for indie hackers. But be aware of a lack of demand on the customer side.

Want to support my work? Click here to Buy Me a Coffee ☕

Was this issue useful for you? Help me to improve!

With your feedback, I can make the newsletter better suit your needs. Simply click on a link to vote.

Build your own? 👉

Where else to find me

Some housekeeping

Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to get your own copy every week.

To make sure you keep getting this newsletter, add its email address to your address book, mark the email as 'not spam', or whitelist its email address.

If you can’t find the newsletter, check your spam folder or look in Gmail's Promotions tab.

Tweet Tweet
Share Share
Forward Forward
Share Share
Copyright © 2021 Marco Spoerl, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp