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November 16, 2016

What features do your search users really want?

What features and capabilities do corporate end-users need from their search platform? Here's a radical concept: ask stakeholders what they want- and what they need - and making a list. No surprise: you'll have too much to do.

Try this: meet with stakeholders from each functional area of the organization. During each interview, ask people to tell you what internet search sites they use for personal browsing, and what capabilities of those sites they like best. As they name the desired features, write them on a white board.

Repeat this with representatives from every department, whether marketing, IT, support, documentation, sales, finance, shipping or others - really every group that will use the platform for a substantial part of their days. 

Once you have the list, ask for a little more help. Tell your users they each have $100 "Dev Dollars" to invest in new features, and ask them to spend whatever portion they want to pay for each feature - but all they have is $100 DD.

Now the dynamics get interesting. The really important features get the big bucks; the outliers get a pittance -  if anything. Typically, the top two or three features requested get between 40DD and 50DD; and that quickly trails off. 

I know - it sounds odd. These Dev Dollars have no true value - but people give a great deal of thought to assigning relative value to a list of capabilities - and it gives you a feature list with real priorities.

How do you discover what users really want? 




When I was consulting we usually did a similar thing, but focused on their customized list. After two days with them, we'd make a whiteboard list of the all the fixes/enhancements we'd discussed. Then with the main group in the room we'd ask each person to vote for their top three while we gave ticks to them on the whiteboard. That gave everyone immediate visual feedback where the priorities were leaning. Then we'd send an email to all and ask each person to rank all features in order of priority. Sometimes we'd even let them break it out to "priority for end users", "priority for the business", and "priority for IT", but that's usually more work than they can do so we'd try to keep it simple. Then we compiled everyone's email response together for a prioritized list with input from everyone.

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