“But Steve Jobs said never ask users, they don’t know what they want.”

Whenever I hear this from a startup founder or a product team lead, I know they’re in trouble.

It’s become fashionable to assume that you’re smarter than prospective users – you can build something so cool that users will magically queue up to buy your product as soon as they see it.

In truth, this approach leads to a lot of failed products.

Most founders quoting Steve Jobs forget that Apple has had decades (yes, decades!) of experience understanding user’s context & trends. What we see is probably something that has been iterated over multiple times and what has survived an intense vetting of products.

As a startup founder, it’s very difficult to build this understanding of the world and pull off a product that matches needs well.

It does happen, but the probability is low. The smarter thing is to research what to build & how to sell this.

User research involves a deep understanding of their lives, context, constraints, needs & worldview. This takes time, patience & a lot of skill to do right. It’s an investment, but one that pays rich dividends. Please don’t ignore user research if you want the odds in your favour.