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Start By Asking The Right Questions
Before any product design work begins, you have to be sure you have clear answers to three key questions:
1. What problem am I solving?
2. Who has this problem?
3. What, specifically, do I want to achieve for my audience?
Without precise answers to these questions, product design can easily get derailed. You could end up with a product that solves a problem almost no one has, build a product that doesn’t fully meet the needs of your target users or over-build the product, resulting in wasted resources.
Once you’ve thought through these questions and have done enough research to validate your conclusions, you’re ready to move forward.
1. A User-Focused Approach
Too often, startups make assumptions about their users and focus solely on the product itself. User-focused design puts the target audience front and center. It focuses on users throughout the entire process through a variety of research and design techniques. It helps ensure the product is accessible and adoptable by the target users, making success much more likely.
Two critical elements to user-focused design are user stories and user journeys. A user story describes who the user is (persona), what it is they wish to accomplish (goal) and why it’s important to them (need). User stories are referred to throughout the product design process to help define and describe specific features.
The user journey is a step-by-step account of the process a user will go through when interacting with your product. A user journey helps to illustrate needs and identify any potential pain points.
2. No-Limits Brainstorming
You should give your team total freedom during this stage of design. Don’t go with the first idea you come up with — there may be a better one. Asking what-if questions and welcoming any and all ideas will help to make unexpected connections and ensure you come up with as many creative solutions as possible.
There are many ways to approach brainstorming. Some of the more popular methods used in product design include:
• Visual Mapping: This is a way of taking an idea or concept and illustrating it visually in order to better understand. By starting with a general idea that branches into more specific ones, a visual map allows you to see the way ideas are formed from one another and where connections are made.
• Reverse Thinking: This technique helps to change your perspective and look at an idea from a completely different angle. For example, reverse thinking can employ rephrasing questions as statements, reframing a negative as a positive or defining what something is not, as opposed to what it is.
• Speedstorming: Working in pairs or small groups, team members are given a small window of time to come up with a certain number of ideas. For example, a 3-3-5 speedstorm would involve three people coming up with three ideas in five minutes. By employing multiple rounds of speedstorminhg, a small team can generate many ideas in a short amount of time.
3. A Well-Defined Product Vision and Strategy
Now that all the creative ideas are on the table, it’s time to sift through them, with a clear focus on the answers to your three questions of what problem you’re solving, who you’re solving it for and what outcomes need to be achieved.
Create concise goals for your product that are based on user needs and insights. Your product vision must clearly articulate what you’re trying to create and why. This will help inform what you’re designing and, just as important, what you are not designing.
Your product strategy is the combination of the vision and a set of defined, achievable goals that work together to direct the design team throughout the process. Simply put, the product vision is the “why” and the product strategy is the “how.”
When crafting your product vision and strategy, ensure that you can say yes to these questions:
• Is it functional? Does your product solve a specific problem?
• Is it usable? Will your users find the product to be intuitive, accessible and easily understood?
• Is it desirable? Will people seek your product out and choose its experience over others?
4. Prototype, Review and Refine
Creating a prototype (or a more-robust minimum viable product [MVP]) helps confirm that the design is on the right track and helps identify areas for improvement.
Prototyping can start small. It’s often more efficient to focus on a few key components first, reviewing and then refining those aspects before proceeding with prototyping the entire product.
The process can happen in several forms. You can prototype using anything from rough sketches all the way to robust interactive simulations. Choose the prototyping technique that both requires the least amount of work and provides the most opportunity for learning to keep the design process efficient.
5. Test and Validate
The learning is not over when your prototype is built! Testing your design concept to confirm it works as intended (and that users find it as enticing as you thought they would) validates your product vision and design approach and leads to valuable insights that make your product more valuable to users. Employing both in-house testing and user testing during the design process will give you a spectrum of information and learning opportunities.
To design great products, you must deliver the right features, with the right user experience, to the right people. These elements will give you confidence that your product will successfully meet the needs of your users, in turn resulting in your startup’s success.
July 5, 2019 at 09:05AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs