The notebook test


Want to know the secret to finding product market fit?

It’s a notebook.

The key to building a product that people will want to use is simple: draw a picture of your product – be it a web app, a mobile app, or even a menu for a hot dog cart. Go to a busy place. Show it to people and ask them to tell you what it is.

We did this for multiple products and the answer is often the same: people just don’t understand our first thoughts. But, thanks to the Notebook Test, you can throw away your first idea, redraw it, and keep going. Over and over. Until you get to a point where people just “get it.”

What does “getting it” mean? In the case of a web app, it means they know what your app does at first glance. In the case of a hot dog stand they want to eat there before it even exists. In the case of a mobile app it means they are ready to click buttons and swipe through cards before you write a line of code.

Record their thoughts. See what they do when they see your app. Listen to what they want.

The other trick is to never lead the witness. Show them the drawing and step back, asking them to talk. Don’t tell them what it does, don’t tell them what it’s for. Instead, ask them:

“What do you think this does?”

“What do you look for when you look at products like this one?”

“Who do you think this is for?”

The answers may surprise you.

So before you spend thousands on an MV,P build a super minimal MVP (SMMVP?) The results will illuminate the rest of the design process.

Ready to move past the notebook? Drop us a line!


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