Validating a product idea without talking to users

29 December 2023

Previously, I mentioned that our first idea is paused, and that we’ve started to build something else.

Are we jumping into building without validating the product idea? Not quite.

Our idea is simple: replace the WooCommerce order management dashboard with something that’s more like Shopify, which is more intuitive and has more features.

We validated the idea in two ways, both of which were quick and didn’t require finding people to interview.

First is my personal experience working with WordPress and WooCommerce. I’ve been working on WordPress sites for nearly 7 years now, so I’m familiar with the typical workflows and shortcomings, and I know there are a lot of problems to be solved.

Next, I Google as if I’m looking for what we’re building.

Screenshot of Reddit post where someone is asking something that is exactly our product idea

They’re asking for exactly what we’re building and not getting any answers. Although it’s just one person, it’s likely others have had the same thought but didn’t bother to ask in a public online forum, or they are not thinking about alleviating their struggles. Having been building in WooCommerce for almost 4 years, I agree with this person. The order management screens are janky and not friendly to a broader audience, which is concerning, as WooCommerce is ranked by some measures as the first or second largest ecommerce platform out there.

Another sign of demand from searching the web is that there are countless tutorials and videos on how to make WooCommerce more like Shopify. There are also plugins, mostly those that make the checkout more like Shopify, which thousands of merchants use.

Screenshot of CheckoutWC’s home page, where they say CheckoutWC is a plugin for WooCommerce that replaces your checkout page with a Shopify style cart and checkout page, and that the WooCommerce checkout page sucks.

It’s not necessarily that people just want to look at a cleaner UI—they’re also looking for a better UX and more features, and the easiest way to express that is by asking for a Shopify-like thing.

Lastly, there is another successful product with thousands of users called Metorik which is essentially a standalone reporting dashboard for WooCommerce, and more recently Shopify. They’re focused on reporting and automations, leaving room for our product to improve the actual user interface and experience of managing orders.

Of course, we’ve also searched for similar solutions, but could find none.

And that’s how, in just an hour, we validated our new product idea.

I admit though, perhaps that one hour was several years in the making—which can be a lesson for you. Want to start a business? Start it in something you’re familiar with. It may not be as fresh and exciting, but it’s more likely to succeed.