Almost every business I know struggles with one major problem: How to build better products.
Building products that fit your customers is a sure way of making your sales department’s life easier and increasing your revenue.
Your sales and marking divisions don’t need to pull teeth to make a sale and customers actually buy a product that solves their problem.
After all things are a lot better when your products fly off the shelf!
At Inverted Software we provide product planning and management for our customers and often times are asked the question: “How do I know that this product or feature are needed and will help my business?”
Well if you ever asked yourself the same question, or if you ever wondered about the process that takes place in order to influence product design, keep on reading.
The products that are easiest to sell are products that solve your customer’s problem without creating any new overhead.
For Example: Let’s say you sell products online. You probably need an online store.
You can solve your problem by hiring a developer to set up a Magento store and buy some servers to host it.
This will solve your problem, but, will create new overhead.
What if your store goes offline? Who will keep it secure? Is the programmer available for work at any time? And so on.
It is much easier and cheaper to simply get a ready hosted store such as ShopSnap.
A store that is always available hosted in the cloud and does not require you to perform any maintenance.
A ShopSnap store has solved your problem without creating new overhead.
Your customers think exactly like you.
The key to designing better products for your customers is learning more about them.
Who are they? What problem are they trying to solve? How do they use your existing products? How does it answer their needs?
All of the above are important questions and in order to get helpful answers, we need to know how ask the right questions and use the correct tools to accurately measure the results.
There are three main methods of collecting data that will help us plan for a better product:
A/B Testing with Usage Data
In A/B testing, we prepare different versions of the same product, and then test the users’ usage of each version.
We can collect heat maps, navigation data and usage trends and deduct which version was more effective.
In which version was the user more productive? What parts of the product seem to work and what parts need tuning?
We then eliminate the less successful version; prepare a new version that will be derived from our more successful version and repeat the process as many iterations as we need.
The end result will be the version that has tested best with our users.
Focus Groups Super Users
This is the most misused method of planning a product.
One of the biggest myths in UX is that people can tell you what they need.
Well people can tell you what they like or don’t like when you present them with several options.
They can also tell you what they would like to see, however, your customers are not UX experts and if you put ten of them in a room, you might get twelve opinions.
I was once in a user group with farmers that were asked about a new farming exchange application.
They wanted a big picture of a wall safe on the front page to explain to them their data files are secure!
Off course this feature did not go into production 🙂
So what should you take away from user groups?
First impression and feature list.
Your product might live or die by its first impression.
If a user has a positive first impression of your product, they will continue on with evaluating its functionality.
If a user doesn’t like what they see, they will move on to your competitor in a matter of minutes!
Users are also capable of telling you what they need your product to do.
This is called a User Story.
From your User Stories you can extrapolate the feature list they might need to solve their problem.
For the two reasons above, users groups are an important tool in gathering product design data.
Social Media Integration Data
As social media is imbedded into every aspect of our lives, it can give you an accurate picture of your customers.
For example: Integrating a Facebook application into your product can give you access to your customer’s hobbies, friends, work schedule, what they love to read and where they love to spend their time.
This information is important if you are trying to make a sale, but, is often overlooked for improving your product to retain your existing customers.
If you sell diving suits you can pretty much tell most of your customers are divers and like to hang out in diving spots, but, did you also know that most divers choose diving because they like to get away from their stressful daily lives?
They might be busy in the office so helping them relax and think about the ocean while they take a break at the office might solve their problem.
Use social media to learn what helps them relax and you might be able to transition from an online store that sells diving gear to an online hangout they turn to on breaks, increasing brand loyalty and sales.
At Inverted Software we help companies design exceptional products.
We do it by using time tested methods and tools and replicate our success time and time again.
Contact us and let us know how we can help design your next product.