Bruce McCarthy is Founder and Chief Product Person at UpUp Labs, where he and his team are at work on Reqqs - the smart roadmap tool for product people.

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Eating my own dog food

I heard Patricia Seybold speak recently at ATG's Insight Live user conference in Las Vegas. I was there to speak about research I'd done with ATG customers on what sorts of hardware and software they used with ATG's solutions, and about new Customer Intelligence capabilities we are building into ATG solutions.

Patty was there to promote her new book Outside Innovation, which concerns a completely different kind of customer intelligence. In her book, she relates stories of how companies have engaged their customers in designing their products. One example from her talk struck me in particular.

She talked about how Staples responded to customers' inability to find things in the categorization scheme of their online store. Apparently they sent software to some of their best customers that allowed them to place items into the categories they liked. The customers themselves told Staples where the products should go -- and Staples listened. Not only did they rearrange the categories in the online store, but the effort was so successful, they rearranged the bricks and mortar stores to match.

What Staples did is a profound example of user-driven design. I've spoken so often about getting users into the design process that this story inspired me to ask for your participation in developing User>Driven, to practice what I preach or, as a friend used to say, to "eat my own dog food."

I've posted lists of improvements and potential stories for the site in the User>Driven Forum, and I'd like you to rearrange those lists in the priority order that works for you. I've also created a thread for general feedback on User>Driven.

This site not quite what you'd like it to be? Take control like Staples' customers did. Tell me what your priorities are in the User>Driven Forum.

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