Steve Jobs on working backwards from customer experience

“The hardest thing is, how do [those features] fit into a cohesive vision? … One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.


You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it. And I’ve made this mistake more than probably anybody else in this room, and I’ve got the scar tissue to prove it. And I know that its the case.


And as we have tried to come up with a strategy and a vision for Apple, it started with, “What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer?” Not starting with “Let’s sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have, and then how are we going to market that?”

Steve Jobs – at the World Wide Developer Conference, 1997

4 Replies to “Steve Jobs on working backwards from customer experience”

  1. I’m a great admirer of Steve Jobs. It took me a long time to get an iPad, then an iPhone, and they aren’t cheap, but I have no regrets. Even the box is a work of art! Although I enjoy playing around with Windows and customising it to work as I would like it to, and am sometimes frustrated that I can’t do this with IOS, the Apple products are amazing in doing most things you really need in a very simple way. Like passwords, for example, with Windows you have to type them in then press Enter, but with Apple you simply type them and the device guesses out that you want to enter them and does it for you.

  2. The idea of working backwards from customer experience is so important. This was behind some of my most successful choices in the Indonesian Theological Books Project: publishing books that students need because they are studying courses on the subject and there are few or no resources available. Some less successful books were on topics that seemed important to the authors and editors but there were few people interested in reading them.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...