Imagine this: You've poured your heart and soul into a new product idea. You're convinced it's the next big thing. You share it with your friends, family, and even strangers, expecting a shower of praise and validation. But instead, you're met with polite nods and vague comments like, "That's nice."
If this scenario feels all too familiar, then the "Mom Test" might just be the solution you've been seeking.
But first, you might be wondering, "Why on earth is it called the 'Mom Test'?" Well, it's not about assessing your product through your mother's eyes, as the name might suggest.
The term "Mom Test" originates from the idea that your mom, being the loving and supportive person she is, will often tell you what you want to hear, rather than providing the candid feedback you need.
The "Mom Test," as introduced in the book by Rob Fitzpatrick, is designed to counteract this tendency. It encourages us to ask questions that avoid the trap of politeness and get sincere, honest feedback. It's all about getting information that helps you make smart decisions, instead of just seeking compliments or approval.
Talk about the customer’s life. Don’t talk about your idea.
Talk about specifics and past experiences. Don’t talk about generics or hypotheticals in the future.
Talk less. Listen more.
Now, let's explore some examples of good and bad questions to understand the essence of the Mom Test better:
Bad Question: "Do you like my idea for a new app?"
This question only leads to a simple "yes" or "no" answer and doesn't provide any depth or useful insights.
Good Question: "Can you tell me about the last time you faced a similar challenge? How did you handle it?"
This well-crafted question encourages the user to share their experiences, giving you real-life context and actionable information.
Bad Question: "Is our app user-friendly?"
This question is vague and may not yield detailed insights into usability issues.
Good Question: "As you used our app, were there any moments where you felt confused or encountered difficulties in accomplishing a task? Please describe those instances."
This question prompts participants to recall specific usability challenges they encountered.
Bad Question: "Do you think our mobile app is better than our competitors'?"
This question is likely to lead to biased answers influenced by user loyalty or preference.
Good Question: "What features or aspects of our mobile app do you believe set it apart from competitors? Are there areas where you think we could improve to be more competitive?"
This question encourages users to provide specific feedback about your product's strengths and areas that need improvement.
To truly grasp the power of the Mom Test, let's dive into a hypothetical case study. Picture this: You're working on a brand-new dating app and eager to gather user feedback.
Bad Question: "Do you think our dating app is a good idea?"
Improved: "Can you recall the biggest challenge you encountered while using dating apps? How did it affect you, and what could have improved the experience?"
The first question is merely seeking approval and doesn't go beyond the surface. In contrast, the second question delves into the user's experiences, emotions, and potential pain points - where the real insights reside.
Imagine a user sharing a frustrating encounter with ghosting on dating apps. Equipped with this valuable insight, you can tailor your product to address this issue, perhaps by implementing features to reduce ghosting and enhance overall user satisfaction.
Some other examples;
Hypothetical Approval-Seeking: "Would you think our dating app is a good idea if it had a feature that matched people based on their horoscopes?"
This question is hypothetical and seeks approval for an unimplemented feature, which doesn't provide real insights.
Assumptive Hypothetical: "If we added a video chat feature to our app, would you love it?"
This question assumes user preferences and doesn't explore actual user experiences or needs.
Binary Hypothetical: "Do you believe our dating app would be better if it had 10 times more users?"
This question provides only a binary "yes" or "no" response and lacks depth.
User-Focused: "Can you tell me about the biggest problem you faced while using dating apps? How did it affect you, and how can we make it better?"
This question is user-centered, inviting the participant to share their real experiences and challenges.
Specific Feedback: "What things do you like most in a dating app? And what parts do you think we could make better?"
This question encourages participants to provide specific feedback on what works and what needs improvement.
Actionable Insights: "Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the number of profiles on dating apps? How do you think we could simplify the process for users like you?"
This question not only identifies a potential issue but also seeks suggestions for improvement.
So, when should we apply the Mom Test Rules? Well, it can be applied in several stages of product and user research, such as:
Early Validation: Rather than seeking approval, ask users about their pain points and experiences related to your concept. This will help validate your assumptions and pinpoint areas for improvement.
Feature Prioritization: When deciding which features to focus on, consult users about their most significant pain points and preferred solutions. This ensures your product addresses real user needs.
Iterative Design: Throughout the design and development phases, consistently request user feedback with open-ended questions. This iterative approach ensures your product aligns closely with user expectations.
User Interviews: During user interviews, avoid questions that might lead to biased responses. Concentrate on extracting unbiased insights to drive meaningful improvements.
Beta Testing: Encourage beta testers to openly share their experiences and pain points. This invaluable feedback will enable you to make necessary adjustments before the official launch.
Now that you've uncovered the transformative potential of the Mom Test, it's time to put this invaluable tool into action. Imagine the difference it could make for your product, your users, and your success.
Don't just seek validation; seek understanding. Don't rely on assumptions; gather actionable insights. The Mom Test empowers you to create products that truly resonate with your audience, products that people can't help but need and love.