When it comes to creating user experience, we often believe it has to be simple, pleasing to the eye, easy to use – it needs to make a user’s life simple. However, when you dive deeper into the domain, you will realize that features are a small fragment of the overall package. After all, there is so much of a user’s problem that the product can aim to solve. When you think of a product, you look for a solution that solves a specific user problem, in terms of tasks that need to accomplished but ensuring that it is profitable for the developer/company as well

When thinking of a product, the set of features you put in the application is not the real user experience, the user experience comes from the problem the product sets out to solve. Take Uber for instance, the core functionality of the application lies in providing user a convenient way of travel by accessing different cabs on their radar when they want. However, take for example the feature that informs the user about the details of the driver. This feature is there to expand the overall user experience but it not something that can be a standalone problem to a solution. The product can survive without this feature not vice versa. The feature cannot work without the product, this shows a one-way interrelation between the two. This is primarily the reason why designers should focus on the product first.

Consider the problems the product looks to solve

There is a core user experience in every product; the main reason of its existence. The problem the product solves gives it meaning and a value. If the problem doesn’t exist or the solution proposed it too complex or doesn’t fit, the product has little, if not no value at all, leading to low or no use of the product; leading to the downfall of the product. If the solution is incorrect or too complex, there are still ways of going back and fixing it however, if the problem is non-existent, then no adjustment can be made & failure is inevitable. The question is, how do we know what the real problem is and are we tackling it right? To be honest, there is no single correct answer and you never be 100% sure that the right problem is being addressed with the right solution. However, the risk of failure can be reduced by a huge percentage by being observant and discussing with people. This can help uncover the real problem and you can build a solution the customer really desire.

Claire, for example, tried improving the overall sales of lemonade. She tried to add more lime, offered a mix of flavors, increase the size of the cup – but to no avail. The sales didn’t improve, till she decided to observe the people who bought the lemonade. She realized that most of her customers purchased lemonade on-the-go. The biggest benefit of lemonade is that it keeps you hydrated and makes you feel fresh compared to any other drink. She realized this as the problem, something her customers didn’t even know. She decided to introduce on-the-go cups, that offered no spill, this not only made it easier for customers to consume it but also increased the overall sales.

Right features for the right products

When it comes to building features you should focus on the product. Start off by defining the problem you aim the product to address. The next but perhaps one of the pivotal ones is defining the target audience. Finally, you need to define the type of solution being offered. These three key areas should provide you a way forward for every new feature you aim to create.

In order to measure the success of the feature, setup goals against each feature.

The Problem-Solution-Fit

The only way a product becomes meaningful is when the solution it provides fits the problem that is discovered. The solution offered describes the way the problem will be solved. The problem-solution-fit aims to define the core user experience of the product. The core features that are included in the product provide the experience and support the core functions.  These features cannot be replaced. Interactive & visual design make the product visually appealing, easy to use and standout amongst the competition; but they do not add much meaning to the product. The core area of a product is the problem-solution-fit that is offered.

Defining the product

When working on a product, the UX designers should focus on the following:

  • Vision
  • Target Audience
  • User problem
  • Strategy
  • Goal

The strength of Product Thinking

Thinking about the product before you develop it give the designer a concrete direction and they can envision the right features for the right people. This not only helps in understanding the visual elements and interaction of the product but more importantly it helps them visualize the product as a whole. This also helps designers tackle the real problem and thus reduce the risk of building a failed product. This gives the designers the power to take the right decisions when it comes to building features.

Product thinking allows the UX designers to ask the right set of question, which leads to building the right set of features for the stakeholders in an efficient manner. This helps the designer understand the complexities and usability of a new feature if it is requested. The can have a rationale for saying ‘no’ to a particular feature. This helps in keeping the product smooth, effective and efficient!

Conclusion

Product thinking ensures designers build the right features, targeted at the right people that can tackle the actual problem faced. Empowering the designers to take the right decisions is pivotal if you want to develop a product that is successful. Thinking about the product creates a relation that is healthy for the product manager and UX designer, thus creating a product that is strong and address the core problem.