We’ve been clear from the outset of this project that we’re going to put our users first. Of course, when you’re running product development it’s easy to get carried away with the build and to lose touch with what your users actually need it to do. The team – and the people around us – have also been spending too much time arguging the merits of different product names! So for a change of scenery we spent an afternoon on Princes Street talking to people about how charities, good causes and the internet touch their lives.

This exercise was far from scientific, and the next time we’ll use properly structured conversations to help get a better understanding of the market we want to operate in and how best to meet our users’ needs.

In the meantime, here’s what we learned.

1. Pretty much everyone uses the internet

We talked to about fifty people, and about forty of them said they used the internet on a regular basis. This isn’t surprising – we know that the vast majority of people are online. SCVO’s digital participation programme is focused on the one in five adults in Scotland who don’t have the basic digital skills to get things done online, and there will be plenty of links between this work and what we’re building.

2. People who have the internet use it to compare things

With the people who said they used the internet regularly, we talked to them about the sorts of things they do online. About 9 in 10 said they used it to look at things like ratings and reviews – for everything from researching holidays or restaurants to choosing between different products and finding the best prices. Several people were surprised there isn’t a go-to service for doing this for charities and good causes.

3. Straightforward product names beat out clever ones

If you spend your life working in an organisation like ours then it’s easy to come up with product names that are clever plays on third-sector jargon. It turns out these go down like a lead balloon with the general public (usually met with bemusement, meh, or a combination of the two). This has reminded us – again – of the importance of keeping things clear and simple. We’ll talk more about branding in a future post.