The Iteration to Our Madness: Building a Product Your Customers Actually Use

by Jennifer Green, November 26th, 2020

Agile, Development, Product Design

At Borne, we pride ourselves into making products that people actually use. To accomplish this, we have adopted a design process that is human-centric which embraces all the uncertainties and iteration that comes with it. We know that as an agency, it is impossible to have all the answers upfront because that is what our processes are for in guiding your product to success. While each member at Borne has an individual design process, each of our team members shares the same general trajectory. This ensures that we maintain consistency in our approach to building your product without stifling individual innovation and creativity from our team members.

Defining the Key Jobs

Coming up with the solution that your product addresses is exciting, but we cannot forget to identify the problem. We need to take a step back and ask the important question: “What problem is someone really trying to solve when they use my product?”. In other words, what job to be done is someone hiring my product to solve?

In most cases, this will not always be clear from the start. We need to consider the following examples of jobs-to-be-done that requires some thought:

– Action: Grabbing a cup of coffee
– Possible job: Satisfying your caffeine craving
– Actual job: Taking a break from work

When you focus the design of your product on solving a surface-level job rather than a root job, you will increase your odds of creating the wrong product. Let’s look at our coffee example. If you have identified supplying people’s caffeine fix on their morning commute, you may decide to create an innovative caffeine pill as a solution. But if the problem you need to address is people getting bored on their morning commute, a caffeine pill will not be a solution. To create the right product, we need to identify the root of the issue in your solution. It is during this phase you can conduct user research interviews with potential users of your product or other product stakeholders. These interviews could deepen your understanding of your prospective users. For example:

– When you come across a specific issue, how do you solve it?
– Tell me how you came to the solution that you did? What steps led you to this?
– Can you walk us through how you use solution Y to problem X?

Avoid closed-ended and leading questions that lead to a specific bias. These kinds of questions lead. They can lead you to believe you are designing something useful when you are not. Conversely, open-ended questions provide a window into how people think, and the insight derived from their responses can help you design a useful product.

Run a Product Design Sprint

Now that you understand the root problem that your product will address and solve, you are ready to run the Product Design Sprint. A Product Design Sprint is a process that enables us to hone in on a product’s potential features and create a prototype for user testing. Our article on Defining Your MVP is a good resource for more details on how we run our product sprints at Borne.

Building Your Prototype

Now that we have gone through with the Product Design Sprint, it is time to build the prototype. Prototypes will be used to you for two reasons:

1. Prototypes enable you to iterate your design for a quick turnaround.
2. Usability tests require a prototype

The fidelity of your prototype should be based on your timeframe and the quality of interaction required to test your product idea. There are two approaches to building a prototype, namely Figma prototypes or a prototype made in code. The primary benefit of a Figma approach is that it’s quick to produce and easy to update through iterations. However, a product made through code (HTMS & CSS and React) which will take longer to produce, will look and feel more like a real product and provide a more realistic user interaction.

Usability Tests

Fantastic, you now have your prototype in hand you can test your solution with real customers. Usability testing can help highlight the flaws in your design and uncover opportunities for improvement.

The general flow of a Usability Test is to ask a user to accomplish a task with your product and take note of where they become stuck, confused, or frustrated.
For example, imagine your product helps your user discover local events happening in their area. You may ask your subject to:

1. Find an event the user finds appealing.
2. Add tickets of the event to their cart
3. Checkout on the platform

Perhaps the user is struggling to find an event they are drawn to or they can’t figure out how to navigate the shopping cart. Perhaps they are struggling with the checkout flow. If this is the case then great! You have discovered a flaw in the design which you can fix in the next round of iteration.

Iterate

Now that you’ve uncovered the issues with your design through Usability Testing, you can iterate on your idea:

– Did you identify your root problem you need to address? Go to step one.
– You think you’re onto something but need to re-think the overall user-flow? Go back to step 2 and run another PDS.
– Maybe your prototype needs additional tweaks? Go back to step 3.

Wherever you decide to go with your product from here, the important thing is that you continue to increase your confidence in your solution with each iteration.
Have an idea for a digital product? Our experienced designers and developers would love to help you succeed.

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