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What prevents an application, like Twitter, of acquiring more and more users besides the geek users? Even within my circle of friends and acquaintances that work/study with IT, when I talk about I’ m a Twitter user, I need to repeat uncountable times what Twitter is about and I usually explain to them according to what twitter advertise as their goal (Not a micro blogging tool, What are you doing?). In 90% of the cases, they say they heard about it but don’t know what´s its purpose, in other words, they don´t know how they could use twitter for their benefit. ”Why would I tell ´followers´ what I am doing ?¨ is the most asked question after my explanation. It means Twitter´s initial goal failed to instigate the user to create a new need, but why ?
As seen in the graph, there´s a steep that divides Early adopter users from the mainstream users. I believe that this gap, which is always the final “test” to any application to become popular, is becoming even steeper between the Early Adopter user (the ones who adopt new technologies before the vast majority of people) and the mainstream user due the fact most of the services around the web, like twitter, being targeted (mostly due to bad advertisement) to Early Adopters users. Like I said before, it happens that for mainstream users the reason for what they would use something needs to be clearly written in giant letters with neon lights otherwise they won´t buy your idea by just “giving a try”.
I myself, being an early adopter user, believe we are living in some kind of technological bubble and even though we see so many applications doing success around there, most of them are not even close of what they could reach because they are kept restricted to the geek world. There’s a lot of things that could be achieved. In my opinion, before saturating the market with thousands of applications that deliver the same product in different designs, we could stop being so selfish and besides developing applications we should care about how we are going to sell our idea and how to create the need inside the user´s mind.
However, create focusing the real need of the final user isn’ t a easy task. We, developers, having the bad habit of programming to ourselves, solving our own problems and satisfying our selfish needs doesn´t help much either. Because of that, we live in this technological bubble where we create services/products to impress our friends with all our freak techniques and for what ? Just to be to be used by ourselves. But how to break the bubble ? How to identify the needs of the mainstream users ? It’s really hard to give final answers to these questions, however, I believe the solution is start paying attention to our non-geek friends (if you don´t have non-geek friends, can be your mom) in their day-to-day and trying to assume the mainstream user’s role.
Users don´t like to take risk. They are very different from people like me and probably you. They don´t care about 99% of the things we care about, so pay attention to the people around you, notice how they interact with the computer as well their reactions behind it. One user screwing his face in front of the computer can be the best time to ask him to find out what’ s wrong and how he think it might be possible to improve.
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