Product decisions: The difference between “Telling people what to do” and “giving them the data to figure out themselves”
It can feel quite different even though the result is going to be the same. Giving people of your app all the data to make their own decisions compared to crunching the data and predicting how your user might like to have the decision delivered.
The biggest reason why you should give the data to the user first and foremost is that if you decide to tell the user they can maybe miss it or not understand it. It can be that it is not the right time and place for that decision or for it to be dealt with or understood. It can also be that the user does not understand why he or she is getting it if the data is not there to support it.
A lot of people like to be notified about a decision that they have to make as many people have a busy day, but everybody like to be in control of their own decisions. Notifications are really good but should come second.
Examples can be dentists that notify you that it is time to get an appointment. A lot of people forget that because they may not see the point or understand why they need it. If you had the data about why you needed it, it would be much easier to take the decision. If you knew exactly how much your teeth needed to cleaned and the chance of getting a hole in your tooth, you would not mind going to the workshop.
It can be your car workshop is telling you by sending you a notification or a letter that your car needs to go and get service. That is required by law that your car is serviced by specific interval, because it is known to keep that car safe to drive. A lot of people still forget and many people often go so far past that they need to have done two service checks at the same time. If you knew that your disc-brakes were more susceptible to error and poor performance and maybe even by how much, you would not think about missing a service interval.
If you had the data and about why you needed it and by when, you would look at it more carefully and take decisions yourself. A lot of companies are getting started right now with the idea of getting that data to take better decisions because there is a lot of value in it.
But are you allowing you the user to be proactive with their data by showing it to them or are you letting them be reactive to your decisions and intuition?
But what about those people that are not interested in the data and the information?
There is always the people that don’t care and the question is do you want to create something for the people that are the most interested or the people that don’t care. The people that are the most interested are the ones that give the best feedback.