The Mom Test

Steph Hay wrote a great post over at A List Apart on The Mom Test and keeping it real:

For me, no one on earth is better at calling me on my crap than my mom. She worked hard to birth me, raise me even when I was incredibly annoying, and guide me as I struggled through all my melodramatic “Who am I?” crises. All while deftly managing millions of dollars for an entire school system in Ohio.

So whenever I write content, I apply the Mom Test to ferret out hidden marketing or business jargon. Here’s how it works: I write content, then read it out loud while imagining my mom is listening. (Sometimes she actually is. Call your mom; she misses you.)

If at any point I envision my mom saying, “That sounds nice, Steph,” then I know it’s not real enough. The goal of this technique is always to elicit an actual reaction from her, like “Oooh, can I use it?” or “When is this event happening, again?” These substantive “What next?” responses indicate that she really understood.

I’ve been working on a product description for the new app forever, trying to refine it and make it more down-to-earth. It is so hard to do. I love The Mom Test. I had a chance to apply it this past week with an uncle of mine. He is a very smart man but generally doesn’t understand technology. I’ve spent years explaining to him what I do and he never seems to get it, always saying the best he can do is a text message and email. It’s always hard to tell but I get the impression he understood the new product, at least at a high level. We’ll see the next time I speak with him.