Working on a million-or-billion-dollar idea is cool. Working with the latest technologies is also cool. Getting things working for yourself is also cool. Unfortunately all these things mean nothing to the users of our products. What matters to them is whether the product (or service) is actually usable. To promote to that level, our cool projects need to be productized. And this part is very boring, nevertheless very important. Here are some key steps I jotted down while productizing in last few months…
Managing workflows – This involves thinking about all the possible scenarios that can happen while using the product. Even very simple products can have very complicated workflows. Scenarios and the use cases for these can vary depending on the kind of product, but these are typical workflows –
1. How do users reach you to buy the product?
2. How do they buy your product or subscribe to your services?
3. How do they start using it and go about using various features?
4. How do they unsubscribe?
Testing – Product can have tens of cool features and hundreds of workflows to manage these cool features. But all these need to be thoroughly validated before the product can be made usable. Testing can be the most frustrating and time-consuming part in the product design process. Catch all the bugs / gaps in your product or else your customers will (and that wont do good to your business).
User Interface / User Guide – Although user interface deserves a whole book, and there are a lot of good ones available (my fav one – The Design of Everyday Things), the simple point here is to make sure that the product is self-explanatory. Of course, we can provide a 50 page user guide on how to use the product but take that risk only if you are doing a big favor to users for using the product. When was the last time you read a product user guide?
Packaging – The whole productizing process can be called packaging, however here what I mean by packaging is the way product is presented to the customers. Does it have consistent brand identity? Does it look and feel good to gain enough credibility before user actually try out your products. Packaging becomes all the more important if you don’t have too many reference customers to talk about your product.
Pricing / Versioning – Lets say you want to buy an iPhone. Here you go – http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_iphone/family/iphone
16GB is $199, 32GB is $299 (as of today)
Thats it. There are also older versions and unlocked versions but the pricing is very well laid out.
Support – No matter how you streamline your workflows. Or no matter how much robust your products are. Problems are bound to occur. There would always be cases where users find it difficult to use your products. So the last thing, but very important thing is to put a support system before launching the product or service.