If you’re considering building a digital product, here are some foundational things to consider to set you on the best path towards ROI.
A Valuable Experience
Start with asking yourself what the genuine problem is that you’re solving. Then identify your user’s top 3 goals - what are they going to use your product to do that is genuinely going to add value to their lives? Now ask yourself how those goals align with your business goals: will helping the user to achieve those things show the returns that you and your shareholders need?
Then do the user research and validate your concept. It’s easy to fall so in-love with your idea that you lose perspective on it, so take it to your potential customers and ask them if it would create the value that you believe it would. Don’t be shy to ask them how much they’d be prepared to pay to use it. Be careful of asking leading questions that bias their answers, listen carefully and stay open to adapting your thinking.
MINIMUM Viable (Valuable) Product
You’ll hear this term a lot: MVP. Make it your north star. Build the leanest-possible product to test its viability and value in the market.
There are three good reasons to take this approach.
Firstly, you’ll want to keep your costs as low as possible before you start earning revenue.
Secondly, you need to test your core value and hypothesis to find Product Market Fit. If you have to keep building secondary features to get them to use your product, you’re in for an uphill battle.
Thirdly, you want to learn from your users and iterate fast. It’s far easier to manoeuvre a speed boat than a tanker.
Simplicity is key. If your feature list is cluttered with bells and whistles, park them for the backlog.
Make the User’s Experience your Top Priority
Users have high expectations and low attention spans. They are increasingly exposed to slick, seamless, simple experiences (think Uber, Airbnb, SnapScan), and they expect the same from you. Give your product’s user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design the necessary attention to make sure your users love it and continue using it. If you let your cousin’s-friend’s-roomate design it, you’ll probably end up paying for it twice.
Your users will remember the way that your brand’s experience made them feel, so it’s critical that your design leaves a positive and lasting impression.
Your design will always need iteration, but development is generally three times the cost of design. There are powerful low-code, no-code and design prototyping tools available that allow you to test your product with your users before you plunge fully into pro-code. So wherever possible, do it!
Users will never stop surprising you. If you’re open to learning from them, they will help you build a far better digital business.
Solid Product Ownership and a Great Team
A Digital Product is never done. With data being so accessible, you’re more empowered than ever to learn about your customers, their needs and behaviours, and how to better shape your solution. The more you’re able to learn, iterate and optimise your product, the better positioned you’ll be for long-term success.
But this takes focus and attention, so make sure you have a strong and empowered Product Owner in the driver’s seat. They’ll need to establish your measurement frameworks, make key decisions about your roadmap, keep design and development aligned, manage your long-term ROI, coordinate stakeholders and build a great team long-term.
You’ll also need to have the right people in place for sales and marketing, as well as ongoing support. Your end-to-end customer experience (CX) needs to be on point for your product to be a success.
Building a great team of people who really understand this space is critical. Maybe you’ll be able to grow this capability internally down the line, but don’t shy away from working with outsourced teams who can drastically improve your speed-to-market and chance of success in the early stages.
A Quick Check-In
We’ve touched on a lot, so here’s a summary of the key considerations to get you started on your Product Design journey.
- Understand the problem you’re solving
- Identify your top 3 user goals
- Assess the user goals against your business goals
- Validate the concept with your potential users
- Be tough on your MVP scope
- Design your experience with your user top-of-mind
- Empower an experienced team for the short and long-term
- Design, learn, iterate.
If you fulfil a genuine need, if your customers love using your product, and if you have a strong team with a long-term view, you’re on the right track. Go for it!