Figuring it out and Fighting Back

In my daily browsing of the web, I came across a great article from the Mozilla Firefox team called "Why People Don't Install Firefox – Part III."  Most people who have ever built any publicly available software (commercial or Open Source) have asked the same question:

"What makes potential customers/users choose the alternatives?"

By introducing a user survey, the Firefox team was able to accumulate some answers.  And they boil it down with the chart to the right.  As you can see, 83% of their problems come from two classes of issues.  Stop and think on that:

They lose over 80% of their potential users for two classes of issues.

I've worked with numerous projects, groups, etc that didn't track bug report, didn't talk to their users, and didn't ask the simple question of "why?"  To be polite, I think this is a bad idea… to be blunt, I think this is just plain stupid.

Do you even know which of your bugs are the most important?

What bugs are causing the most problems?

What happens to your organization's growth (prominence or revenue), direction, etc if you had more users using your product, talking about your product, and generally thinking of ways to make it better?

Even more important: what would this do to your workload?  Would you need less support staff? Would you be able to focus on more important things that drive the project forward instead of housekeeping that just keeps the project stable?

Or maybe you can just take a day off once in a while… 😉