Is my idea solving any real problem? Can I turn it into a valuable Digital Product?
Digital products are a modern term to name products or services provided in a digital manner (computer-based) or a combination of physical and digital space. They don't sit still, and they aren't individual items; they morph continuously to meet users' needs by solving a problem in a particular way (having their own value proposition).
You might not know if your idea solves any real problem, and therefore, if it will turn into a great product user will use. That's why you need to validate your idea in the first place.
Talk to people, collect feedback, understand if the problem you are proposing to solve really exists. And even better, improve your idea taking into account what people say to you.
And don't forget: problems tend to evolve or change over time, as people's needs are constantly changing as well — that's why it must have an adaptable and agile mindset.
Now that I validated my idea, how do I materialize it?
Quick exercise. Look at your mobile phone or computer screen. In the last few days, how many apps did you use to turn your life easier? Apps that help you solve a specific need.
I need to send money to a friend.
I need to control my monthly expenses.
I need to talk to my friends and family.
Web and mobile apps are created to solve a need digitally, even though they can act physically.
I need someone to drive me to the bar.
Uber is one of the thousand examples out there. They use a Mobile App to provide a marketplace where riders and drivers can communicate, coordinate and negotiate rides, under an ecosystem of the ready-made infrastructure of roads, car finance, and payment services.
Nowadays, consumers are looking to solve their problems through digital technologies, effortless — and that's when the hurry begins in the companies' world.
Shaping the path to success
First things first, you need to find the right folks to work alongside you. People who understand your business goals understand where your product fits in the market, but above all, someone that is there to shape a product foremost based on users' needs and expectations. Someone flexible and creative enough to make sure your product grows organically, iteratively, and in an aesthetically pleasing way, always with an eye on the users' reactions.
And ta-da — just find myself describing a Product Designer.
“Our role [as Product Designers] is to imagine products that don’t exist and guide them to life.”
— Christopher Stringer, Apple Designer
When good design becomes good business
It's important to clarify that UI/UX is not the same as being a Product Designer — not the same role, neither the same responsibilities.
Product designers are problem solvers in charge of the entire process of creating products and usable experiences, who can go beyond production to work at a holistic level. Product designers are not someone who merely executes - they should be involved in the process at an early stage to help you go the extra mile. The more involved a designer is, the more powerful the solution will be.
As Bob Greenberg, Founder & Executive Chairman of R/G, said — "it’s all about one thing: creative problem-solving to get the story out.”
Product Designer: The Role
So how we, as Product Designers, will help you progress and, ultimately, succeed?
We'll work alongside you to:
- Create your product iteratively (MVP-oriented) based on users' feedback, not based on assumptions: we'll focus on the users' needs, making a useful product. Good design is much more than “making it pretty” (hun, but we are also good on that front!);
- Reflect your business goals, brand, and values on your product, in an innovative manner — always balanced with the users' needs;
- Create the best user experience solutions for a given feature — conservative enough so users can easily experience them, but also innovative to be remembered;
- Understand when to prototype and test with the right users before jumping into development without any validation — wireframes are very welcome in this phase;
- Define the best approach together with the product management team to deal with new ideas and how to prioritize features — always aiming to get more value with less effort;
- Analyze the usage and product operations, based on pre-defined success goals and test-and-learn cycles with customers — propose improvements and new functionalities based on that;
- Work hand in hand with development teams to ensure the final result matches the design and provides the desired quality experience.
Product Designer: The mindset
And, of course, the mindset is core when shaping a product. It's not only about how to get it done but how to communicate and think strategically.
Here are some principles we have on the back of our minds that we always aim to transmit:
- Don't be afraid of failure. Embrace it and react to it — It's all part of the learning process. Prototype → Test → Learn → Iterate continuously;
- Everyone has a voice, so be empathetic — People first. If you want to build the right product, consider what people truly want. Don't rely exclusively on business stakeholders, listen to your team and find new perspectives;
- Think strategically — Identify problems and understand their importance. Being capable of prioritizing is one of the most valuable skills for any designer;
- Communicate clearly — Don't keep your thoughts to yourself. Take everyone on the journey behind a solution to increase understanding around the possibilities;
- Seek knowledge over assumption — Focus on when to get proof (qualitative and quantitative). It's not enough to think we know. A product is usually far bigger than our beliefs;
- Embrace the unknown — Don't be afraid to think outside the box. A problem can have different angles and, therefore, several ways to be solved. An iterative process will drive you to certainty;
- Create confidently — Once you respect the defined methodology, start trusting the process by instilling confidence, by implementing a plan to certainty.
Partnering with Pixelmatters
Given the current global moment we are facing, digital transformation is here to stay. Now more than ever, companies seek for digital presence with a good experience to keep users fulfilled.
At Pixelmatters, we have fully dedicated product teams ready to help you get your product off the ground. Not only our team of experienced Product Designers but also the most strategic Product Owners and a team of pixel-perfect Developers.
"Pixelmatters is by far the best design talent of any team we've worked with, which pairs with a rigorous project management and development process. We're thrilled with the results."
— Peter Lundquist, Chief Operating Officer at Village Capital
✨ This article was co-written by Luísa Ferreira, Product Designer @Pixelmatters. ✨