You are part of a well-established business with a significant user base. Having conquered the realm of physical product or service offering, it has been decided the brand will enrich consumer experience with a layer of digital.
The management has already approved a sizable budget for the design and development of an app, and it’s time to prepare a brief for the software agency specifying what you want to build.
Let’s freeze this frame for a moment and examine three common mistakes companies make at this stage.
Competing with the heavyweights
Suppose your marketing or product team is trying to brainstorm a direction in which to digitize. They believe users of your product could benefit from the possibility of real-time communication with each other and suggest building a chat system within the app. What a great idea, right?
Not really. The greatest part of the world uses only a handful of chat apps – Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber.
Those companies have invested millions of dollars in development and marketing which has enabled them to build a massive user base and reap the benefits of the network effect. It’s safe to say that any chat functionality you can build within the approved budget will have a hard time competing with those platforms.
That’s not to say you can’t add chat functionality but maybe start by using a 3rd party solution and validating that your use case is unique enough to draw users from the most popular app to your app.
Disregarding the M in MVP
Repeat after me – the M in MVP stands for minimum viable product or the minimal functionality that can succeed.
Designing a complex digital product is very tricky because you never know how users are going to use it until you give them the real thing.
We can spend months writing up personas, imagining their user journeys and how they might feel in every step of the process. We can find a nice representative sample of our target audience and test the mock-ups on them.
But none of those will give us answers with certainty, not like observing real user behavior using the real product. Only when we get the app in the users’ hands will we know for certain how they use our digital product, what their favorite features are, what needs improvement, and what is missing.
Not only will building out a huge and complex digital product in the very first release delay critical feedback from real users for too long but you’ll also miss out on the wealth of information that could further drive the product road map and give your competition room to launch a small MVP in the meantime.
Never investing in product growth
You’ve built the MVP of your digital product, but the work is far from over. Now comes the critical part – user acquisition and retention.
You are encouraged to use all the analytics tools at your disposal to gather valuable data about user behavior to drive your product road map. With that insight, you need to iterate your product to perfection.
This is exactly why one of our clients likes to call software living tissue. You have to take care of it so it can be healthy and grow stronger.
This means promptly fixing issues, providing excellent customer support, and always monitoring the vital stats in order to plan your next actions.
Do this instead – Work smart and hard
The old adage says you should work smart, not hard.
When it comes to building a successful digital product in today's crowded market, you need to work both smart and hard.
The smart part is recognizing where the room for user experience improvement is and responding to it with an adequate offering.
The hard part is making as few critical mistakes along the way as possible. Being aware of the most common mistakes gives you a head start over the design & development of your next digital product.
When in doubt about the right direction, go in the direction of neon colors like designer Marijana Šimag.