Once upon a time, I re-tweeted a tweet that said: “People don't buy products; they buy better versions of themselves” (by UserOnboard).
Also during those times, people needed reminders to stop building so many digital products just because they could, and start thinking about solving more human problems through these technologies. And because I'm actually talking about nowadays -2016- and “once upon a time” just sounds like a beginning of a beautiful story (and friendship, I hope ^^ ), let's talk a bit about this idea. Are we building stuff (apps and such I mean) for the sake of stuff? Are we focusing on cool features instead of benefits to people?
I know many have noble and great app ideas. However in the process of shaping that idea, they become seduced by all the cool features the app can have, all the possibilities of parallax-ing, animations and geeky technologies. And they lose the main focus – how to make someone's life better.
“One of the biggest traps in product planning is focusing on outputs over outcomes — that is, discussing what to build before clearly defining its purpose.[..] Despite the increase in design awareness, many apps and websites fail because they solve problems that nobody cares for. Before you decide on specific products and features, you should know the problem you need to address. Otherwise, you’re taking huge risks in building the wrong things.”
And this is where the magic word comes in (drum-rolls, please...): User eXperience. UX is an approach that includes the end-to-end experience the customer has with a business, online or offline. And UX gives us a plan to get started. Define together with your team:
1. WHY are you doing this
Write down the reason why you are building the product – the problem it solves- and get a shared understanding of it. Focus on outcomes that support user goals (eg. time saved, satisfaction etc) and your business goals (eg. increased conversion or acquisition). This will help you design a better solution because it narrows your focus on what matters to you and your potential customers.
2. WHO are you doing this for
Gather data on the people (users) and stakeholders who will benefit from this, and what they will expect to happen as a result of launching or designing this product. Nielsen Group considers:
“Don’t make major product decisions based on your gut because cognitive biases work against you. They can easily cause you to make costly mistakes. You might think that your latest idea is amazing,but your customers might not. Veto a candidate solution by making sure that it addresses a real user need and not an imaginary one.
Look at existing data from field studies, competitive analysis, analytics, and customer support. Analyze the information, spot any gaps, and perform any additional research required to help you verify the answers to questions in the previous step.”
3. WHAT value will it provide
Think about your “unique” value for your users, the experiences that will be most valuable for them, and also the value that it will have for you, as a business owner. Combine this with your core competency that creates that value, namely your company's strategic strength : know who you stand for and what do you do best. This helps you focus on building the right features.
4. HOW will you measure success
Set concrete goals and success criteria to help you recognize when you achieved success.
5. WHAT can you realistically do
Ask yourself what is possible given your skills and knowledge. You can brainstorm different ideas on how to approach a goal, however don't overdo it. Think about the fact that some successful apps (Twitter for example) don't have a complicated technology behind it – rather a way to “hook” users into using them => PURPOSE first approach.
Start your project strategically - it helps you build focus on the important things to do, while building a valuable product for your customers.