Building a great product is not easy. More often than not (almost 90%, statistically), companies fail at making a truly remarkable product that consumers would’ve love using. In this age, where entrepreneurship is over glorified, getting your product right is the single most crucial part in your entrepreneurial journey. Sure, you’ll find people on the internet swearing by the latest growth hacks that tripled their revenue in 3 months or the marketeers that emphasize on the right PR launch to be the key to success. There’s no denying that growth, marketing, PR, strong core team etc are essential to your product’s success, but only if your product truly resonates with your users. Until recently, raising capital was portrayed like a ‘win’ but how many of those ‘next unicorns’ do you see in business today.
The bottomline for a successful company is building a great product that users love, and there are no two ways about it. What makes conceptualizing a product really tricky, and sometimes the hardest part is that there is no formal training or education behind this. Most of the great innovators of the last decade have used a combination of experience, gut and knowledge to create products that have built billion dollar companies.
While there is no textbook in this world that can teach you how to build great products, there are certain points than can help you minimize risk and maximise your chances of shipping something your users will love. Putting together a framework of sorts using learnings of other successful entrepreneurs and your own experience makes for a good reference point in times of hard decisions, and should absolutely be followed in times of the easier decisions.
Focus on Shipping the Right Product
Reid Hoffman, the founder of Linkedin said very famously, “if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” This statement wonderfully puts into focus, what is necessary. We’ve seen founders and entrepreneurs waste way too much time on brainstorming for the right tech stack, spend nights discussing which features to ship in the first version or fretting over the smallest of glitches, without even knowing whether their product is something that their users will use.
While trying to launch your product the first thing an entrepreneur should focus is on getting the right product-market fit. Marc Andeerssen defines this term as, “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy the market”. While ‘being in a good market’ is mostly concerned with pre-development research, once you’ve identified the market – you should single mindedly focus on getting the right product. It’s okay if your tech stack cannot scale at the moment, a button being slightly out of position will not hurt you much – what will really hurt you is spending way too much time and money on something that your users don’t really need.
A good marker of the product/market fit is having over 40% of your users claiming that they’ll be highly disappointed if you discontinue your product.
Build on Feedback not Hunch
Larry Wall, the creator of Perl programming language once said, “When they built The University of California at Irvine they just put the buildings in. They did not put any sidewalks; they just planted grass. The next year, they came back and put the sidewalks where the trails were in the grass.” This anecdote has a very powerful message, something that every consumer facing product developer can learn from.
Listening to your initial users can make a world of difference. Every successful entrepreneur will tell you this. You don’t have to go out and personally talk to your users, though that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but make sure that your users can reach you. While developing your first version, ensure that you implement enough feedback systems, including direct communication channels like email and in-app analytics. Measuring and collecting data of your application’s usage is a very powerful indicator of how your users are responding. This data will help you create patterns, answer most of your difficult questions, thus empowering you to build features that your users actually want.
Focus on Simplicity
It’s quite easy to build a feature rich product that reeks of complexity, what is hard is to build a simple product that gets the job done. Over complicating things can get frustrating for your users. One too many options on the navigation bar, ten actions your users can perform on a tiny mobile view – even though being ‘feature rich’ might sound attractive enough to draw in a user, the complexity will persuade them to look for simpler alternatives. The human mind craves simplicity, that’s where the beauty lies.
When iterating and chalking out specifications for your subsequent versions, think like an editor. This means removing redundancy, adding a bit of grace to the process and make sure there is nothing these that takes space but does not value. Don’t be afraid of removing a feature that your numbers indicate is not working. Even though the main idea of iterations is to build upon previous versions, ensure that your app does not get over complicated. If you’re in two minds about a certain feature, it’s better to shelve it for a later version.
Like I mentioned earlier, there is no single path to a successful product. And that is what makes the journey so attractive. At Codebrahma, we live to create products that people would love to use. An app for us is more than just a bunch of features put together, it’s an elaborate solution to a problem people face. If you are looking to solve a certain problem that people in general face, and are looking for software help for the same, we’d love to have a sit down with you!