People don't care how a product is built

This is originally from my application to the Recurse Center 1 week mini retreat. The question that I’m answering is: What is the most fascinating thing you’ve learned in the past month?

People don’t care how a product is built. People don’t care what languages and frameworks are used to build a product. They care about two things: what the product does for them (logic) and how the product makes them feel (emotion).

As a clasically trained engineer, I’ve been conditioned to believe the opposite. I’ve been taught that I need to optimize for minimal memory usage and maximum processing efficiency. In fact, I’ve spent hundreds of hours across school and career performing this exercise over and over again.

And what I’ve learned is it’s mostly poop. It sets out with a false assumption that people want what we’re building. And that’s wrong 90% of the time. We don’t know if people want what we’re building because people don’t know if they want what we’re building. People don’t know what they’re going to eat for lunch tomorrow.

It’s been a long journey but I’m slowly getting better at (1) observing how people behave, (2) listening to what people say, and (3) building bare minimum software that solves a problem and also makes people feel good.

Once these points are hit, I then think about engineering the ideal solution.

Written on November 16, 2017