Product Tips and Insights

seek 'no' during product validation

Product Strategy

A key counter-intuitive component to good user validation is to give users permission to provide honest feedback by seeking no. Seeking no demands that you ask questions, solicit honest feedback, and maybe kill the product or current product direction.

Most validation is framed in the positive. After all, we should be positive and optimistic about the product, right? Wrong. Positive questions elicit positive, but often misleading, responses from users. Why? Because we are predisposed to answer positively framed questions positively.

Examples of typical validation questions include:

  • Do you like it?
  • What do you like about it?
  • It would be helpful, right?
  • You would you use it, right?

Proper validation isn’t about getting positive responses, it is about getting honest responses. Positively framed questions result in false positives, which move the product in the wrong direction or erroneously forward.

Examples of better user validation questions and positioning include:

  • What don’t you like about it?
  • Where did we miss the mark?
  • Why wouldn’t you use it?
  • Why wouldn’t it be helpful?

The seek no approach to user validation gives people permission to provide negative feedback. It also demonstrates and communicates your dedication to solving problems and delivering value by building a product for the user instead of for yourself. Positively framed questions reinforce to users that the product is being built in your image.

This approach also enables you to prove or disprove that your product solves a problem users care about. A typical, positive approach to validation almost always serves to mistakenly prove the problem and product hypothesis.

Validation and user feedback are key components of the product creation process you must understand and master to ensure you are solving a high-value problem people care about. Using the seek no approach will make you better at validation and provide you with more accurate feedback.

Ryan Frederick
Ryan Frederick has had the privilege of being part of several startups and growth companies. He has helped companies grow from inception, to viability, through to sustainability. During the evolution of these companies, Ryan as served on company boards and been instrumental in capitalization activities. He has also helped companies to expand to international markets. Ryan brings a unique blend of business acumen and technical knowledge to help companies and clients achieve their objectives. He enjoys the process and challenge of starting and growing a company. Ryan (@ryanfrederick) is a Principal at AWH (@awhnet), Director for Startup Grind (@startupgrind | @startupgrindcmh), Chairman i.c.stars|*COLUMBUS (@icstarscolumbus), Co-founder (@black_hack) and leader ProductCamp & ProductTank Columbus.


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