Involve your audience in the development of the product; not just as a marketing stunt, but really make them a part of your design process. Emily Weiss from the beautyblog Glossier is putting this into practice and this has resulted in great effects in connecting with their audience. She explains at The Next Web conference about the approach to intimately involve het loyal blog-fans in the development of their products.
The beta releases of the product are sent to the early adopters and the fan-feedback really helps to improve the product even further. This allows the company to match the quality level of the product with the expectations of their follows. An additional benefit is that a lively communication around the design process can inform the public about the specifications and design choices. Knowledge on why and how the product evolved on beforehand, resulted in a greater acceptation rate because of the close involvement in the process. The audience understands the choices being made and even defend any possible imperfections because they truly feel like they added something to the product.
By the way, this is in no way an argument for “Design by committee”! That would be a disaster! What it does show is that the involvement of users, or at least the communication with them, can be a very smart on-boarding idea; smart move Glossier!https://intothegloss.com/author/emilyweiss/