Our family loves games produced by a Massachusetts-based company named Gamewright. The copmany's hit products include Sleeping Queens, There's a Moose in Your House, and Rat-a-Tat-Cat. Our latest favorite is Qwixx, a simple dice game that all ages can enjoy. When we first purchased the game, though, we were frustrated with the fact that we were using up the colored scoring sheets rather quickly. You could order additional sheets. However, to save money, we simply laminated the scoring sheets, used dry-erase markers, and wiped them clean after each game. As it turns out, other customers did the same. Amazon customer reviewers apparently noted the same thing online. Recently, we purchased Qwixx Deluxe, a new and more complex version of the game. Immediately, I noticed a change to the scoring sheets. Gamewright now makes them out of a dry-erase board that can wiped clean after each game.
What's the lesson of this story? Designers can learn a great deal from workarounds - i.e. adaptations invented by customers to address a pain point or unmet need (think tennis balls on the bottom of an elderly person's walker). I don't know for sure, but it seems that Gamewright learned from the customer workaround (laminated score sheets), and they adapted their product based on observing that adaptation. Well done!
What workarounds do your customers employ? What pain points or unmet needs do these adaptations address? How can you modify your product or service to alleviate these pain points?