Mom Test: Our Bible to Understand the App User

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Tomasz Zagórski

Are you the person who conceived the idea for an app, or the person who uses it? This is a crucial question when it comes to customer-centricity. More often than not, the behavior of app users differs from our expectations. Hence, challenging your ideas is crucial.

The most efficient way is to trust the experts. We found the book “The Mom Test” to be a very valuable resource, and we use it as our go-to guide to ask the right questions.

Customer Discovery at CodingPassion and Why Everyone Should Read 'The Mom Test'

The principles of 'The Mom Test' help us to construct user-centric mobile apps. Understanding the app user is at the heart of everything we do at CodingPassion. This book provides a trusted guide in our customer discovery process. This article aims to share how we apply the principles of 'The Mom Test' in our work, and why we believe every product owner, manager, and team lead should read it.

How 'The Mom Test' Influences Our Work

We Value Commitments More Than Compliments:

While we appreciate compliments, they don't necessarily reflect the value we provide. We prioritize tangible commitments from app users over compliments. This helps us measure if our work truly aligns with users’ needs.

Understanding the Power of the Right Questions:

We strive to ask questions that provide meaningful insights. Instead of a generic question like "Would you buy this food?", we delve deeper with questions like "Could you share a recipe from your last grocery shopping?"

Users Are Central to Our Work:

By focusing on user experiences, needs, and challenges, we can create products and services that genuinely solve their problems.

We Embrace a Culture of Continuous Learning:

Every project presents an opportunity to grow. We refine our offerings based on user feedback, ensuring we consistently deliver the best possible solutions.

Hands-On - Understanding Good and Bad Questions

Good Questions:

  • Can you tell me about the last time you encountered [problem]?
  • How did you deal with [problem]?
  • What are the implications if [problem] is not solved?
  • What else have you tried to address this issue?
  • How are you dealing with the problem right now?
  • Can you help me understand why you do it that way?
  • Have you paid for a solution to [problem] in the past?
  • What makes [problem] difficult to solve?
  • How often does [problem] occur?
  • What's the hardest part about dealing with [problem]?

Bad Questions:

  • Would you use a product that solves [problem]?
  • How much would you pay for a product that solves [problem]?
  • If we built [product], would you buy it?
  • Don't you think [product] is a great idea?
  • Wouldn't it be nice if [product] existed?
  • Would you prefer [product] to be feature A or feature B?
  • Do you think [product] is something people need?
  • If [product] was available today, would you use it?
  • What if [product] also had this feature?
  • Would [product] make your life easier?

These questions reflect the principles laid out in 'The Mom Test'. Good questions focus on the user's experiences and challenges. In contrast, bad questions are often hypothetical and lead to unhelpful or misleading feedback.

'The Mom Test' has become more than just a book for us at CodingPassion - it's a guiding principle. It helps us navigate the complexities of customer understanding, prevents featuritis from product owners, and keeps our focus on real user needs. We wholeheartedly recommend 'The Mom Test' as a must-read for all product owners, managers, and team leads.

Understanding and implementing the lessons from this book will undoubtedly improve the quality of your user research and the effectiveness of your products.

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The Mom Test, written by Rob Fitzpatrick, is an indispensable guide for startups looking to find product-market fit. The book focuses on the importance of customer discovery and offers practical advice on how to gather valuable insights without falling into the trap of biased feedback. In this article, we will dive into the main concepts of the book, explore its key takeaways, and discuss how entrepreneurs can apply these lessons to their own ventures.

Overview of The Mom Test

The Mom Test is a set of three simple rules that can help entrepreneurs avoid the common pitfalls of gathering misleading or biased feedback during the customer discovery process. These rules are:

  1. Talk about their life instead of your idea.
  2. Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future.
  3. Talk less and listen more.

These rules help entrepreneurs focus on the customers' needs and problems, rather than their own assumptions about what the customers might want or need. By following these principles, entrepreneurs can gather actionable insights and understand their customers on a deeper level, allowing them to build products that genuinely solve real-world problems.

Key Takeaways from The Mom Test

  1. Avoid Compliments, Seek Commitments

Compliments may feel good, but they don't provide any valuable insights into whether your product idea is worth pursuing. Instead of seeking validation, aim to gather commitments from potential customers, such as pre-orders, signing up for a waiting list, or agreeing to an introduction with a potential client.

  1. The Importance of Problem Validation

Before diving into building a solution, it's crucial to validate that the problem you're trying to solve is a real pain point for your target customers. The Mom Test emphasizes the importance of understanding your customers' lives, habits, and pain points to identify if your product idea is truly addressing a problem they face.

  1. Be Specific with Your Questions

Ask specific questions about the customers' past experiences and behaviors, rather than asking for their opinions about the future. This will help you gather more accurate and unbiased information about their needs and preferences.

  1. Focus on the Customer, Not Your Product

During customer conversations, it's essential to focus on the customer and their experiences, not your product or idea. This will help you learn more about their actual needs and will prevent you from influencing their responses with your own assumptions.

  1. Embrace the Learning Process

Don't be afraid to revise your assumptions and iterate on your product based on the feedback you receive. The goal of customer discovery is to learn and improve, so be open to changing your initial ideas when necessary.

Applying The Mom Test Principles

The Mom Test is an essential read for any entrepreneur seeking to build a successful startup. To get the most out of the book, consider applying its principles to your own venture by:

  1. Conducting regular customer interviews to gather unbiased feedback and insights.
  2. Crafting open-ended, non-leading questions that focus on the customers' experiences and pain points.
  3. Constantly iterating on your product based on the feedback and learning from your target customers.

The Mom Test offers a fresh perspective on customer discovery, teaching entrepreneurs how to collect unbiased and actionable feedback that can lead to successful product development. By following the principles outlined in this book, startups can avoid the pitfalls of building products based on assumptions and, instead, focus on solving real-world problems that customers truly care about.