Create a Product Your Users Love
When you're creating a product, if you want your development team to have a great Sprint, understanding who your building for becomes key.
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"Success Is Not a Matter of Chance but Choice!"
Creating a product that users love simply requires you to connect the dots and ensure that nothing in the product development process is overlooked.
At the outset, the way to great startup ideas is to try not to think of start-up ideas! However ironic it may sound, you actually need to look for pain points and problems of your core customer segment.
There’s actually no hard and fast rule on how to create a great product, but if you ask the right questions, follow important principles and use the right tools, you could very well be looking at a great product idea. So, whether you plan to create a digital product, or a mobile or web application to make life easier for users, here’s a 9-point checklist to help you accelerate your product development and create a product that users love. The checklist covers the entire stage, from ideation to creating an MVP and beta-testing, right up to executing the launch of the product. However, these are not linear stages and there are a lot of feedback loops between each stage as you work to improve the idea during the product development process.
Step 1 - Understanding the Market Requirements
“We Will Truly Understand Their Needs Better Than Any Other Company.”
The first line in the famous “Apple Marketing Philosophy” drafted by Mike Markkula and Steve Jobs is probably the secret behind the cult-like following of Steve Jobs and Apple. Users love and reward products that solve their pain points first. Successful products have two big things in common: they’re something that those who built them would actually want and they're based on a simple idea that can make a big impact.
Building a product is like constructing a building, you need to get the blueprint, foundation, and structure right. You need to know what people want, the value proposition of your product, and determine whether your product is valuable, usable and, feasible. How can you use new technology to better serve the existing needs or solve the pain-points of the consumers? Do competitor analysis to know how you can fill the gap in the market, or, better still, apply the ‘Blue Ocean’ Strategic move. Start with a SWOT analysis or simple Google search and keep tabs on your competitors. Use various online and offline market and user research tools to analyze your data and create user personas.
Step 2 – Identify Your Buyer Persona
Begin with identifying your buyer persona and ask yourself: who wants this right now? Who would want this so much that they'll use it even when it is a beta version? Establishing buyer personas will help you learn about your TG, understand their world, step into their shoes to empathize and notice their pain points. You do this by:
- Conducting in-depth and incisive consumer behavior and user research. Who are the users using this product or service and what are their pain points? What’s the future growth projection?
- Analyzing the user data and defining your users: What is their usage and consumption pattern? How do they use existing products and what are the distinct segments within the user base?
- Apply insights and decipher pattern gleaned from big data by identifying critical insights and characteristics in users based on their demographics, goals, and organization size.
Yet another important aspect is about validating the idea to ensure that it is feasible and offers long-term growth potential rather than some random fancy startup idea. Essentially, you’re not selling a product, you are selling a solution that helps your TG solve a problem. Thus, it’s about understanding the market and the buyer persona.
Step 3 - Clear Vision and Concept
Whether it’s getting your $1 billion or your first dollar, it is all about having a clear vision where you can eliminate all unimportant ideas. The theme at this stage is to set a clear vision and measurable milestones. This stage is similar to setting up a base camp before making the climb up a mountain. Since it requires careful thinking and thoughtful planning, it is important that you and your team be on the same page at this stage. It is a great opportunity to organize your project and set product roadmaps. This stage also includes producing these deliverables:
- Product concept description and its USP.
- Re-assessment of the market opportunity.
- Technical feasibility assessment.
- Preliminary financial analysis.
Thus, this phase is where you outline the product’s target segment, market, technology, and cost, and where pricing is determined and defined. The ideation phase also includes the drafting of the product concept which involves packaging (if it is a physical product) or setting up subscription channels and options (if it’s an online service).
Step 4 - UX/UI Can Make or Break Product Success
No matter the type of product you're designing, UX and UI are critical because they influence the utility and usability of the product, which eventually determines its success. Design, branding, and aesthetics help form an emotional connection.
Wireframes are literally the skeleton of your mobile app or web application and a key link to ensuring your product’s success. It is also the best way to know whether the entire team is in unison in terms of vision, concept, and deliverables. Most UX designers proceed with wireframing using tools like Balsamiq, Photoshop, Sketch or Justinmind because these offer more speed and visual accuracy.
Step 5 - Launch Minimal Viable Product (MVP) Prototype
Before your product can take off, it is important for it to walk and that’s why the ‘Prototype’ stage is essential. This is where you test your ideas and assess how the product will work in real life. There are different types of prototypes, from basic mockups to fully functioning models, or MVPs, to test the form, style, and functionality, of your end product. However, the type of prototype depends on the end goal of the product idea.
An MVP comes with just the core features that address the most important problems that you are trying to solve for your customers. The objective is primarily to learn about the customers and their needs. An MVP allows you to think through product features or potential functionalities that your product may have and then strip it down to the most essential features. Apart from building an MVP, Smoke Tests are another viable tactic to validate your product idea and gauge people’s reaction. Some of the major brands, applications, and eCommerce websites started out as MVPs or as smoke tests to test the waters and eventually respond the demand they found in the market.
Step 6 - Beta Testing Your MVP
Once your MVP or Smoke Test has helped you validate your assumptions and the value proposition of your product, it’s time to beta test your MVP to help you evaluate the customers' experience prior to the release. It is advisable to choose influencers as beta-testers. Using influencers as beta-testers only gives you access to a pool of engaged experts, who are tech-savvy and aware of the trends in the market.
To effectively pursue beta testing, ensure you have unique goals and everyone involved understands what needs to be accomplished. While choosing private beta testing has its benefits because it does not compromise the product’s security and it’s easy to manage tests within a small, private beta group, it is advisable to pursue both private and public beta testing. Collecting and evaluating feedback is an equally critical part of beta testing. Ensure that the feedback is around the set goals and is collected quickly through different means, including bug reports, surveys, testimonials, suggestions, and quotes, and that these are evaluated to gather insights.
Step 7 - Product Promotion
Launching a product or promoting one isn’t what it used to be. Innovative tactics are required to grab the attention and get a share of the customer’s attention.
Building a buzz around your product requires that you start early and pursue it across digital channels. You will need to rise above the noise in the crowded marketplace and play to your strengths. You’ll need to differentiate your product to instantly strike an emotional chord and make the most of the audience's limited attention span. Here are some successful ways you can promote your product:
Get a head start! Start your outreach early, even if you are still preparing for the launch, this can add steam to brand conversations well before the official launch date.
Tap Influencers and Industry Analysts
Reach out to multiple influencers and analysts in your industry via email, social media, or through references. You can offer them various incentives, from invites to exclusive events, early access, discounts, priority services or even free trials to motivate these influencers to act. With their clout and authentic WoM marketing, they sure help to spread the good word around and build trust.
Create an aura of mystery and intrigue to build an interest with series of staged leaks that entice the customers. The recent OnePlus5 and usual rollout of Apple products are great examples. Not only does this help your product create a buzz, the leaks through Tweets, photos, etc. create immense traction online.
Step 8 - Launching A Staggered Rollout of Your Product
Don’t have a big bang release, instead choose a staggered rollout of your product.
Whether the product is intended to be a direct revenue generator and to be positioned for sale or is a new platform for B2B business transactions (in which case the objective is rapid user adoption), a well chalked out product launch strategy can really accelerate its acceptance rate.
Choosing a staggered rollout is less risky and gives you time to make improvements, evaluate the market viability, and allows for ongoing modifications and regular upgrades and integrations with changing requirements. With staged rollouts, bugs and UI issues can be easily dealt with in a phased manner without affecting the productivity of your team.
Step 9 - Customer Service and Delight
Post-launch keeps the momentum going and encourages more brand interactions and conversions through compelling incentives like free trials or downloads. Also, offer online DIY demos and product videos so that users can get their hands dirty.
Simply put, know why your product exists and have some market awareness in order to stay agile! Once you have planned your product development process and set milestones, constantly measure them to assess your growth in the run up to the launch for it to be successful.
Groundbreaking products are built from the ground up with users in the center. Stop the guessing game and start making amazing products. This checklist may help you successfully identify and seize new opportunities to develop trailblazing products.
Published at DZone with permission of Manmay Mehta. See the original article here.
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