User Experience Design and Product Thinking
Life’s too short to build something nobody wants…
When thinking of UX, we usually think of a simple, beautiful, and easy to use feature-kit of a product, that makes the user’s life lucid. But factually, features are merely a small, intangible part of the product. They are only a few of many plausible solutions for a user’s problem the product tries to resolve. Thinking in products means ideating in specific user’s problems, in tasks to be executed, in output, and in revenues.
The core user experience is not a feature set; in fact, it is the job users buy the product for. Uber’s core UX is to get a taxi easily at any time. The countdown, portraying when exactly the taxi will arrive, is a suitable feature that assimilates this experience. But Uber’s product works sans this feature. The countdown, in contrast, cannot live without the product (the certainty to get a taxi easily at any time). There is a one-way relationship between feature and product: Features don’t work without the product. This is why designers ought to think in products first.
“Think in products, not in features”
Build relevant features for the right people
Thinking in products helps creating successful features. By defining the problems the product proposes to solve, it answers the question “why do we build this particular product?” Setting up a goal will help to evaluate the success of this feature. Defining the target group, “who has these problems?” and defining the solution, “how are we doing this?” will give appropriate guidance to create a new feature.
Products become relevant when the provided solution fits the uncovered problem. This solution elaborates the way how a problem will be solved. Thus, the problem-solution-fit defines the core UX of a product. The concrete features are augmenting this experience and back the core experience, but they cannot eliminate it. Interaction Design and Visual Design can make the end product beautiful, easy-to-use, delightful or make it stand out in the competition, though it can’t make the product relevant. This is the reason a proper problem-solution-fit is so crucial for the success of a product.
The power of Product Thinking
Thinking in products gives designers the benefit of building the appropriate features for the right people. It helps comprehend the user experience of a product on a broader; not purely as Interaction- and Visual- Design of features. It makes sure designers manouvre real user problems and herewith reducing the danger of building something nobody wishes to have. It gives the power to make the relevant and precise decisions when it comes to building features.
Product Thinking empowers UX designers to ask the right questions, to build the right features and to communicate with stakeholders more efficiently. It enables designers to say ‘no’ and to be reluctant before including new features. Whenever a new feature is in demand or somebody has an idea for a new product, designers are able to ask the appropriate questions, before drawing wireframes or crafting fancy layouts: “Does it fit into the product?”–“Does it serve a real user problem?” –“Do people want or need it?–Let’s find out first!” This will keep the product precise and effective.
“Building features is easy, building the appropriate features for the right people is the challenge”
Thinking in products enables designers build the appropriate features for the right people and handle real problems people have. It empowers to make the right choices and is the foundation of building successful products users want. Product Thinking establishes a coherent relationship between Product Management and UX Design and therefore, leads to better and stronger products. This is why Product Thinking is going to be the next major trend in UX Design.
By Gaurang Athalye.