Opinionated products breed passionate customers
Stop building products that work for everyone and build a product that works for someone.
Do you want your customers to care about your product? Have strong opinions.
Do you want a clear roadmap for what you should and shouldn't build into your product? Have strong opinions.
Do you want a unique voice among a saturated market of software products? Have strong opinions.
We get it we get it. Have strong opinions. What does that mean though?
This is the important part. If you take nothing else from what I am writing let's all remember this:
Strong opinions should come from expertise or experience.
Everything I said at the start is true, but if your “strong opinions” don't have a foundation then you will lose steam the first time your face adversity, and that leads to the second thing you should take from this article:
Strong opinions breed adversity.
That is okay. Adversity doesn’t invalidate the foundation you have chosen to build on. It strengthens it. It proves that you have found something that people care about and now your job is to keep working to find the people who resonate with the opinions that you're building your product around.
The Proof is in the Pudding
Alright enough talk let's see some examples of products with strong opinions.
Strong opinion: Women deserve an tech curriculum focused on their needs.
It drives decisions on what courses are made, how they are made, the tone used in marketing, visual language in the design, and so much more.
Their strong opinion builds die hard fans every month that become advocates and avid supporters of the program.
Strong opinion: Makes scheduling collaborative instead of a nuisance.
SavvyCal is a perfect case study. If you're not familiar SavvyCal came on the scene after the market was already swallowed up by the big player in the space, Calendly. However, founder Derrick Reiner used Calendly’s time in the market against it by isolating a small frustration in the UX of the product and using a strong opinion on the “right way” he was able to resonate with a healthy portion of the market and grow a very successful product from it.
Strong opinion: We provide cleanly designed forms that are easy to use for people who build digital products.
This one is what planted the seed that turned into this article. Founder Peter Suhm talked about the problems he and co-founder Bjorn have faced growing their no-code form builder on this episode of Out of Beta podcast. TL;DR, their product was for anyone who needs a form, and they faced indecision and stagnation with the product because there was no clear direction on what anyone needs.
His solution? Choose to focus on people who are building online businesses. This single decision to choose an audience cleared up the roadmap, and I look forward to seeing the effect that it has on growth in 2023.
Start doing. You can't form valid opinions until you do something enough to recognize patterns.
Missing the expertise/experience? Partner with someone who does.
Be vocal about your opinions if you want to find people who feel the same.
A Important Clarification
The idea of an opinionated product can have an unfortunate connotation that the opinions restrict the users of the product forcing them down a single correct path. The purpose of having an opinionated product is that you should have a clear sense of purpose, and knowledge of what uses it is and is not suited for—that's praiseworthy.
Let's remember this point of this entire exercise, it is in the title. We are trying to build products that find passionate customers, so listen to them. Use customer experience and pain with your product tempered by the strong opinions that created the foundation of the product help guide your roadmap.