“I am the End User” – A Syndrome that Kills Products

Product Management

“I am the End User” – A Syndrome that Kills Products

It’s not just about startups, but also big businesses who live (and eventually die)  ‘I am the End User’ syndrome.

Very often, I have come across situations where startups/product owners would say ‘We don’t need to explain this feature to the user. Anybody can easily understand how to use this’.

To me, that argument is a death bell to the product.

Startups need to realize that a typical user is mostly clueless about the product and uses product as a utlity (just like the way, we use credit cards) and does not perceive the product as a magic potion (the way product owners do).

Let me ask you this – Do you click on ads? No, you don’t (we will be a million$ site, if you do!).

So who clicks on these ads? Anybody in your friend circle ? Probably not (they are all geeky guys who have installed AdBlock)

So, if you or your friends do not click on ads – how are the Googles and Yahoos of the world surviving?

Maybe, one of your customers?

It’s because the guys who actually constitute the ‘mass user base’ is not you.

You aren’t part of the mass . You are niche.

You are the guy who actually understands the difference between sponsored ads vs. search result links.

You are the guy who participates in Firefox vs. IE debate (have a look at browser report for India).

You are the guy who loves Mac over Windows.

You aren’t the mass.

And that’s precisely the reason, you aren’t the end user of your product.

Get this, before you build something that is truly loved by your friends (everybody says wow!) and dies within the same circle.

So, before developing your  product or closing down the feature set, ask yourself:

  • Figure out who your end user is? [ref: Why product companies should know the color of their customers’ hair?]
  • Define a segment/cluster for each customer type (there could be different clusters you want to target).
  • And before you build the product/feature, ask yourself – “among all the customer segments that I am targeting, who is going to benefit the most? Is that segment really important or should I build feature for the ones that are most important to me”?
  • Maybe, conduct usability testing (read: How Should Startups conduct Usability Testing?) to gauge customer understanding of the feature.

What’er you do – ensure that you aren’t building a product for yourself or building a product in vaccum. ‘Coz if you are, you are just pursuing a hobby and not serious business.


If you are a startup and would like to go through a detailed exercise, let’s take the discussion offline (email).

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