11 Oct 8 Rules for Developing Great Products
We live in an age of unparalleled opportunity for innovation. We’re building more products than ever before, but most of them fail – not because we can’t complete what we set out to build, but because we waste time, money and effort building a product that not enough people or businesses want.
“Building great products requires a mix of vision, customer feedback and continuous iteration. I’ve found this to be true regardless of what your product is — software, professional services, physical goods or anything else.
Since I started my first company in 2001, I’ve tried to learn as much as I can about what makes great products. While I’m still learning, there are 8 “rules” I keep coming back to when I start, advise or invest in a new company — and I wanted to share them with you here.
This acronym stands for (B)uild (F)or your (B)est (C)ustomers. Simply put, it means you give a higher weighting to product feedback from your best customers — the ones who spend the most money with you over time.
Cost (Create & Sustain)
When you build anything new, it’s tempting to just think about the initial cost to build, source or manufacture the product. What trips most founders up, though, is the ongoing cost to sustain that product once it’s live.
When you’re building a new product, it’s tempting to wait until it’s perfect and “fully featured” before you put it in front of customers. Turns out, this is the absolute wrong way to build a product.
Instead, you should build the simplest version that solves a single problem and put that in front of customers for feedback ASAP — even if it’s not your best work.
Solve (Tier 1) Problems
The best products solve tier 1 problems. I’ve written about that here in extreme detail, but it bears repeating — your product should solve a tier 1 (or top 3) problem for your potential customers.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so it’s critical to determine what your top 3 metrics are and make sure 1) your product, website, etc is instrumented to track them and 2) you have a way to see them on some sort of dashboard every day.
It doesn’t matter what you sell — design is your most important “feature”. Even if you sell professional services, the experience a potential clients gets when they visit your web site or arrive at your office is all part of their user experience, which will help them form an opinion of you even before they get your advice.
Never sacrifice user experience and always opt for simplicity and ease of understanding over a more “fully featured” product or service offering. If you can’t easily explain your products or services to the average person, then they’re probably too complicated.
Aim to improve a specific part of your product with a single release, instead of putting out tiny improvements to many different parts of it.
In 2016 there’s no reason to do your own payroll, web design, social media updates, internal IT, telephony, etc. Startups have a better shot at winning when they are extremely focused on a single mission — and anything that gets in the way should be delegated.”
For much more on each of these 8 rules, check out the complete source article.