Kickstarter Lesson #251: Why I Sometimes Use the Guest Bathroom

26 July 2018 | 14 Comments

Once a month, I use my guest bathroom. When I recently did this, I realized that it ties directly into something I’ve been trying to do at Stonemaier Games.

This will make more sense in a moment.

I have 2 bathrooms in my home/office. I have a “master bath” that I primarily use, while guests (mostly attendees at my weekly game night) use the second bathroom. I try to check into that bathroom from time to time to make sure it’s clean, empty the trash, wash the towels, etc.

But I’ve found that checking in on something is quite different than actually using it. Like, the other day I washed my hands in that bathroom. When I did, I noticed the foaming soap was running low, that there water stains on the mirror, and the hand towel smelled a little weird. These are things I only noticed when I put myself in position of an actual user.

That’s what made me think about something I’ve been trying to do at Stonemaier Games: Periodically use and browse our various platforms as a random person.

For example, when we launched the Champions program a few months ago, I noticed an odd pattern of user errors. The information was where it needed to be. So I decided to sign up as a Champion myself to see through the eyes of a random person. Right away I found the source of the confusion.

But I’m not always so lucky to have a pattern of user errors to look into. When a potential backer doesn’t pledge to your campaign, you rarely hear from them, right? That’s why I’ve found it incredibly helpful to proactively use our webstore, website, social media, etc as if I’m a random person trying to do something or learn something about Stonemaier Games.

I’ve talked about this concept in the past–putting yourself in someone else’s shoes–but it’s one of those things that’s conceptually easy to understand and realistically more difficult to remember to do on a consistent basis. That’s why I now have a monthly reminder on my calendar to both use the guest bathroom AND the Stonemaier webstore, website, etc!

Have you found any techniques that help you improve your platform’s user experience?

Also read: Kickstarter Lesson #103: There Is No Perfect Pickle and Kickstarter Lesson #205: One Simple Way to Significantly Improve Your Website Today

If you gain value from the 100 articles Jamey publishes on his blog each year, please consider championing this content!

14 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #251: Why I Sometimes Use the Guest Bathroom

  1. One of the things we do internally is we have a varied group of testers whenever we plan to launch a significant platform change on PM. One of these specific groups we use are intentionally not familiar with Kickstarter or are even tech savvy. One of our best testers is 70 years old. She finds quirks or confusing bits in the user flow that I wouldn’t have even considered. This has helped tremendously because so much of the familiarity and jargon we take for granted is lost on folks who are not familiar with crowdfunding or post-campaign tools. Once we started doing this, that’s cut down on the support tickets we see for clients and us.

    If you’re testing something on your platform have at least a couple testers to help test that have no idea what it is you’re doing. Sit quietly with them and watch them go through it. You might be surprised the questions they ask or merely answer for you by watching them get hung up on something they don’t even realize they’re stuck on. It pays off in spades.

    1. I really like that, Adam. It’s one thing to ask people to use your Kickstarter page or website, but it’s a whole other level to *watch* people use those things and learn from their experience.

      1. Exactly! You’ll get a chance to observe things they might be embarrassed to admit they were stuck on. You can even do this with a screen-share with remote folks. Just have them screen share then give them the information on the call. It’s wonderfully insightful.

    2. Ages ago while working for the Navy, we had a piece of equipment deployed at different locations. One location periodically would have a total system failure and we would have to send out replacement parts. Finally, after hours of time on the phone, we sent a technician to WATCH the users for a day. They dutifully watched all day long and the system worked flawlessly. At the end of the day, the user pulled the floppy disc (yes this was ages ago) out of the computer and used a magnet to stick it to the filing cabinet next to the computer!!! (Which of course then scrambled the disc “breaking” the system.)

      So yes, watching users can be quite important :-)

  2. Absolutely, great advice. As a software developer that’s done work for a company that did lots of tactical (I.e. ad-hoc) development projects for customers, we knew that it was critical to have profiles that emulated the permissions levels of average users in order to test out updates. So many times a customer would encounter issues and complain to us about things we thought were working fine (or worse – not complain and either stop using that feature or stop using the product entirely).

    It’s really alarming how many people will encounter an issue and simply walk away instead of letting you know about it, so it’s critical to know what their experience is so that you can be proactive about addressing it, because being reactive isn’t always an option.

  3. Great post, and good pro-active reminders to do that which we know we should.
    Thank you for taking the time to write about this.

  4. That’s a fantastic practice to start for anyone! After 20+ years of business consulting, one of the things that many companies struggle with is putting themselves in the shoes of a customer. One of the simplest (but often most effective) things a consultant does for their clients is to look at things from an objective point of view and often that involves trying to see things from their customers’ perspective. It’s easy for a business to lose sight of reality by not regularly practicing the guest bathroom activity you wrote about. Over time, a business tends to focus on what’s better and easier for the business as opposed to what’s better and easier for the customer. When you focus on the latter, you’re almost certainly going to provide a better experience for your customers which will both make (through repeat business) and save (through reduced need for support) money for your business.

  5. in the software world (my day job) we have dedicated testers to find these problems, for the very reasons you mentioned. it’s hard to find problems unless someone assumes the role of a “user”.

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