Notes on Tomer Sharon’s Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research

(The first of a two-part summary of Chapter 5 of Tomer Sharon’s new book,  Validating Product Ideas Through Lean User Research. Posted online at, link here.)

This post covers the first part of Chapter 5 of Tomer’s book (do people want or need this product?). Here’s a link to the second part.

Answering the question “Do people want or need the product” is key to making you more aware of the current pain points and needs of your potential customers

You must continually ask the question throughout the product development lifecycle–learning more early on is much cheaper than learning it after you’ve devoted time, resources, energy and money to developing something

You can’t effectively survey people about what they want and need—they think they know what they want, and they want to be helpful, but they really can’t conceptualize something that doesn’t exist

Tomer has a figure which plots when this question should be asked throughout the product dev process. The bigger the circle, the more important to ask the question at that point in the process:


Remember, an MVP is the process of creating “a version of a new product that allows the team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least amount of effort” (—Eric Ries).

An MVP is a series of experiments and research activities with the sole goal of learning

An MVP is not version 1 of a product—it may not even be a product, it might just be a contract you ask people to sign to gauge interest, etc

An MVP is not a cheaper product, or one with the minimal feature set


Here are some techniques for finding answers

Concierge MVP

  • Manually provides the functionality of a potential product to the customer
  • Example: Zappos was originally a relatively simple website people ordered shoes from. The founder then when out, bought the shoes at a brick and mortar store and shipped them to the customer. They didn’t create an elaborate backend or get a fully-stocked warehouse

Fake Doors MVP

  • This experiment is usually a website that pretends to provide a product, feature or service to site visitors. It allows you to gauge potential user interest in your idea. (If someone signs up, they usually get an email response saying that this was a test and if enough people are interested, the product will be created)
  • Example: a grocery store is considering building a shopping app. They add a Download App button to their website and see how many people click it

The experiments work since they:

  • Measure how potential customers perceive the value of an offering
  • Are great at evaluating everything from single small features to entire product suites
  • Reduce risk of wasted time, money and effort
  • Force you to start communicating with users in language the resonates with them, giving you time to develop and perfect this communication

These experiments answer the questions:

  •  Which words should I use to describe my product?
  • What will persuade people to want it?
  • What are people’s initial responses to the product?
  • Would people pay for it?
  • How much would they pay for it?
  • Do people find this product can solve one of their problems?
  • Who is my audience?


About Tomer Sharon (from

Tomer is H​ead of U​ser E​xperience at WeWork in New York City leading a team that designs work and living spaces, communities, and services around the world. Formerly a senior user experience researcher at Google Search, Tomer is the author of the book, “Validating Product Ideas through Lean User Research” (2016) and author of, “It’s Our Research: Getting stakeholder buy-in for user experience research projects” (2012). He founded and led The Israeli Chapter of the User Experience Professionals’ Association and has been preaching and teaching UX  at Google’s LaunchPad program, a bootcamp for early-stage startups around the world, in conferences, and at Treehouse and General Assembly. Tomer holds a master’s degree in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University in Waltham, MA. He is @tsharon on Twitter and Instagram.




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