How to stand a better chance of success
In this article, I will be bringing forward several ways that would allow people who are building digital products to stand a better chance of success. We’ll explore some basic methods to define a successful product, design its architecture, and develop a strategy to build and launch it.
When we start building products, we are not so sure about how they are going to be used. We can only hope that they will work the way we want them to, but most importantly, we strive to have a product that will do the job our customers need them to do.
Teams that don’t have a working product strategy won’t really know when is the right time to find out whether or not they meet the requirements of the customer and the business. I can tell you for sure what would be the worst time to find out: when you actually put a product out into the market.
My responsibility, as a designer, is to make sure that the products we put on the market stand the greatest chance of success. To achieve that, I have to move the product design strategy in a position that allows the team to react to the feedback loop as quickly as possible.
How long do we wait before launching a product? How do we define the right requirements? How do we determine success? What signals are we looking for from the market? There are several tools that we can use in order to obtain reliable answers to all of these inevitable questions.
From my experience, the tools derived from Lean UX and Design Thinking have been the most useful ones.
When striving to build a successful product and a sustainable business, these two mindsets should be used by the entire team. Designers will usually act as enablers of this tools, getting everyone involved, looking for a different perspective about the hypotheses they are testing.
These tools will give you a thorough analysis on the feasibility, usability, and business objectives your product should excel at. By involving everyone on the team, you will bring new perspectives to the product definition process, from all disciplines.
Your teammates will also have the opportunity to empathize with people who are going to use the product and understand the business reasons behind key decisions.
About Design Thinking
Design Thinking has been described as a framework that paves the way for innovation, a tool for simplified results, a humanizing approach to building digital products. It is a term generally used to unify a multi-disciplinary set of practices that focus on research, rapid ideation, monitoring user behaviour, and measuring success.
I think we should consider Design Thinking a human-centered MINDSET, rather than a set of practical steps to achieve a palpable product. We would need other systems to implement this mindset, other tools that we should use for specific work to be done.
I would introduce Design Thinking as a philosophy, then describe the process (through Lean UX), and afterwards list a series of tools to be used for maximizing the potential of a digital product.
About Lean UX
Inspired by Lean Startup and Agile Development theories, it’s the practice of harvesting the true power of design in a collaborative way, at a much faster pace. It puts less emphasis on deliverables and brings greater focus on the actual experience being designed.
You said something about Agile Development. What’s that?
To put it in a nutshell, the Agile values would be:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
You said something about Lean Startup. What’s that?
Yes, the Lean Startup philosophy describes every startup product as a grand experiment striving to find an answer to a question.
It’s very important to properly define this question, putting less emphasis on whether the product CAN be built, and make more effort in finding out if the product SHOULD be built. To be more precise, the challenge is to find out if the team can build a SUSTAINABLE business around a certain set of products or services.
OK. Cool. We can move on.
A new product will always take the form of an experiment: the requirements are still mere assumptions in this incipient phase, while the product roadmap is just a list of questions, rather than a list of features.
If traditional product design methods aim to fulfill the designer’s own vision, a Lean UX approach brings fundamental changes in the way products are brought to life: by validating hypotheses. Instead of reviewing a series of features to be built, the product is seen as a set of hypotheses to be validated.
This process allows a product designer to figure out which metrics will drive the business, what can be done to improve them by solving customer’s problems, then validating the solutions to find out if their product is the correct answer to the problem.
Therefore, your team will experience a shift in thinking: in order to determine success, they will no longer measure the stuff that was produced, but actually switch to measuring the value of what was produced. By focusing on outcomes, teams would make decisions based on objective observations, rather than subjective opinions of individuals.
This was the first part of an article series. To continue reading about user experience research and design tips, click this link: READ PART II.
Photo credits: Joshua Earle
George is a UX designer and a digital strategist who loves to build purposeful and human-centered products.