Borne Curious Series: Why You Shouldn’t Develop Your Product

by Jennifer Green, March 11th, 2021

Business Strategy, Development, Digital Transformation

At Borne, our focus is on building products that are not just beautiful products to look at. Our team also strive to build the right things, at the right time and for the right reasons. So let us take a step back and imagine this experience, although you may have experienced this already.

You are proud of your business and your online presence, spending your budget on design and development when an idea creeps into your mind. Maybe you were influenced by your team or the idea came from reading tech news. Wherever the thought came from, you now have the idea in your head…

We need a digital product for our business!

We are here to tell you that unless you have really taken the time to think this thought through, you are probably wrong.

Yeah, we said it.

Don’t get us wrong, we love digital products. We create them. And we want to share our observations so you do not waste your time building an app that does not advance your business goals and could hurt them in the process.

So what are some of the challenges and the lessons we could learn from them?

A cheap product can damage your brand

Whenever we slow down to think about an example of a cheap product that performs poorly and frustrates the user every time they use it, a few apps may come to mind. It is important to note that these apps may not just be in the Fortune 500, but also in the top 50. When you consider this, it is not like they did not have the money to build it right the first time. If you were asked for a recommendation, it is highly unlikely that you would recommend this product to your friends and family. This is anti-marketing and you do not and cannot afford that.

If you cannot or will not spend the money to do it properly, do not build the product. Spending the money upfront on building your MVP with feature updates on the horizon is key to success, however, it is not a guarantee.

Just a side note, if you work for one of these Fortune 500 companies and feel like we are referring to your product, get in touch with our team at Borne. We can help you.

Useless products do not grow your brand awareness

This topic is a little bit trickier to discuss. Let us use the scenario: you have come to Borne Agency and we build you a product that is beautiful and easy to use, however, it is also useless. This sounds a bit harsh, but what we mean by this is that the functions that it provides are not the ones that users need or will want to take on their mobile devices.

What would be a real-life example of this?

Maybe your business wants to sell fitness equipment. You approach an agency that builds an amazing fitness-themes app to buy your fitness equipment. The animations are fluid, the designs are on point, and when you use it, you feel like you are a fitness pro and purchasing some fitness equipment would be a good idea.

That should be the definition of success right? Wrong.

Because no one ever says, “I want to buy fitness equipment” and in the same breath say, “I really hope there is a digital product for this so I can complete this transaction while I’m on my morning commute.”

So what can we learn from this? If you cannot come up with a compelling use case that shouts, “You have to do this on a mobile device!” chances are you should not build a product for it. 

Overly-saturated product market

One of the final questions we will come across and collaborate on when building your product is,

“Who am I competing against?”

The answer is not the companies that are in your product market. The answer is every other digital product. Every digital product usage is a zero-sum game. If someone is using another app on their mobile device, they are not using yours. So your competitors will be Instagram, Facebook and Youtube, or whatever the hottest game is this month. On average, a person spends around 3-4 hours on their mobiles every day. So right there is where your competition lies. From the user’s perspective, they are likely looking to:

– Engage on social media platforms

– Communication

– Entertainment like watching a movie or play a game

– Kill time

– Completing a very specific task ie. banking

That is what you have to fight against. If your product is not the reason the user is pulling out their device, then your product is never going to be opened, and eventually, it will get removed. If you cannot come up with a solid proposal and reason why a user would choose to open your product instead of something else, do not build a digital product.

Winning them over

We can only speak from our own experience at Borne Agency and usage reports on clients we have worked in the past. People make really hasty decisions about whether to keep a product on their phone or reinstall it. The reasons can range from “I did not like the colours” to the more technical, “It crashed when I launched it”. Once a user has classified your product as a waste of space on their device, no amount of new features or fixes will bring them back.

In short, if your plans do not include an approach for winning over users quickly, do not build an app. So it sounds like we are trying to put you off approaching us at Borne Agency and not go ahead with your product build.

But, that’s not the final lesson! So let’s summarise what we know:

1. A quality product will cost more than you might expect. Be prepared to spend some money and commit to doing it right.

2. An app will only get used if it does something truly useful. Validate your ideas with our team at Borne before we start to build. We use product design sprints to achieve this!

3. Your product will only get used if users want to use it above all other apps.

And the final lesson, understand the challenges, question your assumptions always and only pursue a product build if you can answer why you’re building it, how your customers will use it and why they will want to launch it and enjoy the product experience.

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