What does your user want?

I had my mind melted in a recent conversation with my friend Chris Dial. He said,

image“People don’t want 1/4 inch drill bits. They want 1/4 inch holes”.

The lights went on in my head. This is as clearly as I’ve ever had it explained to me. I’ve been trying to say this for years when I talk about solving your users problem is more important than what architectural model you used or what set of technologies or how pretty things are, those are just tools that can potentially help you solve the problem. But they don’t, unto themselves, solve your users issue and drill those 1/4 inch holes.

This is something that not nearly enough technical folks get. They are very excited about the tech for tech’s sake. The issue that they are trying to solve is often that they want to learn something new, use the latest shiny language or framework and so on and they mask that by trying to tell the user that it’s solving their problems. “By moving to this [framework | language | technique | architecture | service] it will save [money | time | baby seals]” when the reality is that the user doesn’t care as long they get their 1/4 inch holes.