“Begin with the customer and work back to the technology” – Steve Jobs. These words immortalised by Steve Jobs was essentially what separated Apple’s strategy from most technology companies of its time.

Yet trying to understand customers is what businesses struggle with, with good reason. Human psychology is enormously complex and unpredictable. This makes the effort to create usable patterns useful for product development extremely challenging.

For technology companies UX research plays a significant impact on product success (or failure). Changing customer habits means UX research an ongoing effort as products need to quickly innovate to adapt to newer consumer habits. History is littered with products that showed promise yet failed.  Reverse engineering product failure is a very effective way to understand what are the key drivers for product success. A few recent examples are:

Pokémon Go
Augmented reality game that fed into mass hysteria and a herd mentality but couldn’t keep up momentum once the novelty wore off. Novelty is what keeps us addicted with Dopamine hits. Facebook user experience taps into this and more basic human needs from to addictive effect. They use fundamental psychological drivers listed above. Most don’t even realise that they are addicted.

Google Glass V1
Novel as a technology but stepped on basic civil standards. This could well change in the future in new avatar for customers with a more defined use case but common citizens were just not ready for this level of intrusion.

Chat Bots V1
Heralded as the future of customer service but has struggled to make decent strides in conversational UX. It was hyped up to be a service good enough to replace a human but could not understand basic human nuances and intentions. These are being ironed out as user experience researchers make a significant contribution in this space.

Steve Jobs had an uncanny ability to see beyond just the technology. He remarked at one of his Keynotes that Apple was a company inspired by the intersection of arts and technology. He saw the convergence of technologies and use cases that solved essential problems for most users. He understood technology was the means to the end and it was understanding the needs of its customers while delivering an optimal solution is what made the iPhone a winner for Apple.

It’s Steve Jobs greatest tribute to his philosophy of beginning with the customer.