Every great product started with an awesome idea and people who were skilled and motivated enough to see it through. There are ideas and products everywhere, but only a handful survive or thrive in the market. Some of them are just lucky. However, a great deal of those survivors are there because they combined many or all of the ingredients for a successful product.
A problem to solve
Products are created to meet specific customer needs. It could be the parents who want a better way to communicate with their college student, the college student that needs to order cheaper books or the marketing guru that needs to reach a broader audience. Some problems we didn’t even know existed until there was a solution. We never knew we wanted the ability to call a ride through an app on our phones until Uber came along. Start by finding a specific problem to solve, and focus entirely on that.
The right product
Once you have the problem, you can create the solution. If we know people are looking for a better way to keep track of and share notes, we’ll create something like Evernote. Once you have the right problem in mind, the solution will become clearer, and you’ll have a stronger method of development. Make sure you have the right vision, test it out and use data that supports it. Then you can decide which ideas are outstanding and which ones won’t work.
Clearly defined customers
Now that you have a problem to solve and your solution, who is it for, and why? We all what our products to be for everyone, but it’s important to focus on the particular person who will be using your product, those are the people you are going to trust to give you all the information you need to improve your product and features until it’s ready for launch.
A dream team
Just as important as having the right product, is having the right team. Gather a group of people that are passionate about your product and their role in developing it. You don’t just want people who will work well together; you want people who will challenge each other, won’t settle for standard and genuinely want to build something great. This dream team will be easy to motivate because they are already coming into the project with the know-how and the determination to see it through.
Imagine those top four on this list as the dry ingredients, your base. Start with those and from there you can mix-in your development strategy and roll out your product roadmap. Talk to your customer base about that problem you want to solve, decide on the most important features, and brainstorm with your team. Put everything together, and you’ll have a solid foundation going into development.
Now that you have a clear plan use it to develop something that will have mass appeal among your defined customer. Give it features that at least 80% of the people in your target segment would love to use. Support this claim with the right data, support everything you do with some data as much as possible. And ensure build something a lot of people want because it will make their lives easier and better.
Take those concepts that have mass appeal and mold them into something unique. Give your product an edge, (keep it simple). Maybe it’s the design or image of your product that stands out, a unique take on a simple feature, something that makes the product be able to survive on its own.
“You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace.” – David Ogilvy
Don’t forget to bring on the passion throughout your project. If it’s something you care about, you’ll have no problems finding others who feel the same way. If it’s something you don’t care about, well, don’t even make it. Which of course, you wouldn’t.
Here’s where your design team shines. Looks do matter. People love products that are beautifully built (and of course functional). Like Apple, Snapchat, Uber and Flipboard, which are all visually pleasing and engaging, that’s why they work so well. Beautiful products also increase user retention.
People don’t need to get everything from one app; they need one product that works well for the one thing it’s supposed to do. Get feedback on your prototype, then remove something. Do this a few times. Breaking it down until you only keep what you need, it’s sleek and ready to share with the world.
Get out there. Talk to bloggers, leaders on Facebook and Twitter; people that other people follow for great reasons. Don’t shy away from asking for their feedback, getting them involved in what you are building and take what they have to say into account. They’ll be more invested in the product later and want to share their involvement and contribution with their audiences.
Don’t bake it for too long. A good product manager knows when to say no, when to stop adding features, when what you have is ready and when to just launch.
“Done is better than perfect.” – Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
That goes without saying, make sure the product is done. Don’t launch too early. It’s not a failure if you need to delay launch, it’s a failure if you press the green button and it fails to catch on in the market.
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