Beyond landing pages: Five ways to find out if your idea is stupid

Laura Klein author of Lean UX for startups.

So you have an idea … you should probably find out if it’s stupid. We all think all of our ideas our wonderful. The trick is finding out if your idea is one of the good ones or stupid ones.

Have you tried building a landing page? (If not you get your #lean card revoked) BUT they are great for telling you if people want to give you your email address.

Landing pages aren’t really good for much more than getting email addresses. You need to think beyond landing pages.

What else is there?

- Audience building (through content) eg 37 signals, groupon, mint, seomoz
“One of the first things you can do is find customers for your product” (almost so simple, it’s stupid). all created customers before a product – they all blogged about it and created an audience before a product. Can be an email list, facebook, twitter stream need not be a blog. Not just gathering email you’re gathering humans (and ones you can use for early market research). Good for products that rely on community.
Give away expertise for free, establish yourself as an experts, CONNECT! (not about you, not ads – they are about helping people).

- Concierge eg Airbnb
Airbnb thought ppl would hire more places with professional photography. Concierge is good for learning what is required for you product before committing to it. Not scalable. Provide service manually, figure out what problem need the most help with. Good for B2B products. Keyword for concierge is HELPING. Whatever you think is helpful do it manually first

- Wizard of oz eg Stripe, cark, polyvore
You hide all the bits being done by humans. EG Polyvore thought there users might like daily deals. They created a page that faked the process and showed that it worked. Guess what? Use humans until you can’t. Do things that can’t scale. PRETEND.

-Fake door eg IMVU, polyvore. Industrial logic
Industrial logic has an elearning project and thought about implementing group chat. They put a button on the page (rather than creating one). fake doors allow you to see who works through them (risk you may piss of suers). Add the first iteration with an interface. Provide a good experience even if it’s not an experience they expect. Using them judiciously you can learn a tremendous amount. The key here is MEASURE! What % of users need to go through the door?

-Crowdfunding eg OUYA, pebble
The single best way to see if users want your product is to sell it to them. Entertainers are the best at doing this. Learn whether users will pay for your product. Ask for credit card and ask for pre-payment. SELL your product.

Know what you want to learn. You are going to be wrong. Try until you learn what you want.

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