Customer Driven Development

Thinking of an idea and building an MVP is the easy part.

Building a product that people love and addresses a real market is hard.

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Courtesy of “Crossing the Chasm

Once a product is past MVP, there are many options for what to build next.

  • Features
  • Interface improvements
  • Performance optimizations

How do you decide?

You can debate internally about the next most important project. Or, you can listen to your users.

This is something we’ve learned the hard way: If customers aren’t asking for it, they probably don’t want it.

That is why we believe in Customer Driven Development. We rely on our customers to drive our product roadmap. Here’s how we do it.

Developers must connect with customers

Everyone involved in building and launching a product should make choices in the best interest of the customers.

The only way for developers to build a product that is loved by its users is to deeply understand for whom they’re building the product.

Kayak famously had a direct hotline for customer support, called the red phone. Every engineer was responsible for helping customers out.

Wufoo is also well known for their customer support. They actively share all support emails with every team member.

Customers are always right

Figuring our what users will love requires a keen awareness of their needs.

Slack recently rolled out “color-blindness” support for users that couldn’t see their Slack dashboard properly, based on customer feedback.

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Understanding the why allows for knowledge of the core problem, which makes designing a product roadmap much easier.

Don’t ignore feedback

It’s easy to forget how overwhelming a service can be to a new user. There’s new functionality to learn and a new interface to understand.

Forgetting this can lead to alienating customers and accidentally building overly complex products that users stop loving.

We’re inspired by companies like Zappos who place extreme importance on customer support and happiness.

Here are a few tools we rely on to help us connect with customers.


Messaging and support, plus customer segmentation!

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Chat, support, press… all in a single micro-blogging platform.

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Pull requests and community comments on bug fixes.

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Customer exhibit and funding information for credibility.

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Documentation and a user forum.

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User research (recordings).

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Blogging and social tools that link with our audience on Twitter.

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Beyond all the tools and processes you can use, the true key to building a great product, is remembering why you are building it: to solve a real problem for real customers… so listen to what they have to say.

One thing that we’ve noticed them saying is that they want to use the product in their native language. Luckily, we’ve built an app for that!

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