Product development can be considered as some kind of art. Combining the vision of the company, productivity, and functionality is hard and complicated. But, if all the ingredients are added in the right amount, the final result can be amazing. Everyone can learn how to create a product, better.
However, there’s one magic word the art of product design needs to revolve around – users. All the aspects of the product development process, from idea generation to product launch, need to be user-centered.
A great product is the company’s greatest asset. No marketing or PR can help you if your product is simply bad. You can create the best stories in the world and put in as much funding as you can, it just won’t do it.
So, what is it that you should have in mind in order to get a great final result?
1. Simplicity first
In the sea of similar products, users don’t have the time to figure out how your product works. It has to be obvious. A simple design will do. Normally, there will always be people who will struggle, but the product mustn’t be complicated to understand.
If figuring out how a product works take too long, customers will leave it. There are simply too many alternatives and you need to understand that no customer is that faithful anymore. You need to be able to see your product from a perspective of someone who’s never seen it before.
Before adding all those features to your product, ask yourself: Do you really need ALL of them? Must they all be here to solve one problem for your customers? Probably not. The simpler – the better.
“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook” – William James, the father of American depth psychology.
Sometimes, you can have the same product as your competition, but making it simple can make your product leading. For example, Uber basically delivers the same service as taxi companies. But the simple and convenient way of getting it makes all the difference.
2. Solve real problems
Every new product must come after deep research. No researching means not knowing what the needs of consumers consist of. Not knowing the needs of consumers literally means throwing your company in a fire. There’s no point in releasing a product if it doesn’t solve a real problem. The problem is the reason why your product exists.
Another way is to remind people of a problem that they didn’t know they had. Take Facebook, for instance. Did we have a need for social networks before? No. Do we have it now? Yes. Facebook basically created the need for us.
This is much more complicated than solving an already-existing problem. The risk is bigger when you don’t know whether people will agree to your “imaginary problem”. However, taking this risk is worth it when you do your research right and you create a need your customers will adopt as real.
Efficient problem-solving can’t happen without functionality. Functionality means the product must be useful. However, this doesn’t refer only to the purpose of the product as a whole. This refers to every aspect of its design. There shouldn’t be a part of a feature of the product that doesn’t have a purpose.
Next, the functionality of all features should contribute to the functionality of the product. There’s no use of a functional feature if it bugs the working of the entire product. Too many features that work separately can change the point of the product’s existence. It might look good to you, but users might get confused.
Testing a product before releasing any part of it is crucial. Otherwise, your product will be doomed. Why would you launch something that no one will use?
Again, you are not the customer. You need to put yourself into the customer’s shoes and look at the problem and its solution from that perspective. Don’t just rely on your own opinion. If you test the product only on yourself, you’ll probably miss out some functionality flaws that others could notice.
Not every good idea can be a good product. Many products sound good when as ideas, but they don’t become successful as products. Sometimes, a good idea can’t even be executed.
Experienced managers claim they have business intuition, which often turns out to be justified. But, it’s never enough. Intuition needs to be followed by data that confirms the need for the product. You can’t just release a product based on your intuition.
How to know if an idea can turn into a successful product?
One of the methods you could use to make sure your idea takes the right direction is co-creation. Co-creation is a process of collaboration of the company with potential customers, in order to create a product that will give an answer to their particular problem.
By using co-creation you can significantly reduce costs by finding out what is it that your customers want exactly. You can also get better market insights and make the decision-making process easier for yourself. Finally, you’ll get a better and user-friendly design that will address your customer’s needs.
Design thinking is an effective way to co-create. Including design thinking in your product design can help you understand the needs of your customers and make your products more user-friendly. This approach basically combines different user-centered design techniques in a single process. Instead of just design, design thinking is focused on the entire product development process.
The methodology puts users in a creative setting and leads them through the process of empathy, definition, creation, prototype, and testing. The empathy of the users is used as a guiding statement that leads to the best solution to the problem they’re having. This means that it can be used no matter the size of the company or the industry where it operates. The only thing that matters is the user.
Apple, IBM, Nike, Tesla, Uber, and Google, are only some of the companies that have embraced this innovative methodology, using it to create user-centered products.
Engaging with users during the product development process will give your product exactly those features that they need. Simplicity, meaning, durability, productivity, and entertainment.