Solve the real problem

You can’t have a baby without the birth pains. Something my old boss used to say

I’m going to level with you. A lotta the time you won’t get to solve the real problem. Why not?

  • Your product team would rather solve a lookalike problem that they’ve already scoped out because it feels” right.
  • Management is married to a solution they dreamed up last year and announced on a marketing call.
  • The real problem feels too hard (。>﹏<) and your PM wants to ship something in two weeks.
  • It’s easier or cheaper (or perceived as such) to ship a subpar experience and write documentation guiding users through it, than actually fix what’s broken

And most difficult of all:

  • The user can’t always articulate The Real Problem and often they themselves don’t know what it is.
  • Here’s an interesting story about vanilla ice cream that demonstrates this phenomenon well.

Cue training montage

If you want to solve the real problem you might have to fight for the privilege.

You have to learn to uncover the user’s real world desires. You have read between the lines and think beyond the immediate solution space.

You’ll start to question the work on your plate and think about the bigger picture. You’ll learn to push back on band-aid solutions. You’ll start to think like the user and feel their pain. It’s hard work solving the real problem, but it’s worth it.

Other principles of content design

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