An issue we come across regularly at Borne with larger organisations and founders is the idea that customers will become obsessed with their products. Of course, this makes sense. When you are an early-stage founder thinking about your product day-in and day-out about what your product will be, it is highly likely that you will transfer your obsession to your hypothetical users. After all, your idea is a great one, so of course someone will see its value!
For larger organisations, it is likely that a product a year or so post launch, may eventually reach an adoption plateau. In this situation, an organisation may try to grow products laterally to gain new users. The thinking with this strategy is that that existing users will be excited to have a familiar tool present in a new part of their lives.
The downsides of this approach and this kind of aspirational thinking can work against you. We tend to frequently forget that our users are people, and people are complicated. Their days are full of multiple competing and overlapping demands, and your product is just one touchpoint. Here’s the thing we need to remember when it comes to product development. People forget experiences that are easy and intuitive but remember ones that don’t. Think about it, we bet you can remember the last bad product experience you had a lot quicker than the last exceptional experience. Maybe this is a glass half empty approach but you need to keep this in mind in preventing your product from being susceptible to this problem?
The more pervasive you try to make your product, the more its purpose gets diluted. You want to identify what makes your product great, and then capitalise on that to the extreme. Here’s some points on how our team at Borne can achieve this for your product:
1. Identifying what your users really like, not what we think they like
What you think and what you know are two very separate things. If you’re going to spend time, money, and energy on refinement, make sure you’re refining the right things. Talk to your customers to learn what resonates with them. Run analytics to verify what they tell you is true. For example, maybe don’t implement all your user’s feature requests.
2. Investigating features post launch
Features can be frequently released and are never revisited post launch. We fail to investigate how they are holding up as other factors of the product evolve. We also neglect to check what their introduction does to the overall ecosystem that is a product.
We need to revisit old features and look at them with a beginner’s mind. Or better yet, interview some people and ask them what they think.
3. Go through your customer support
We look for patterns in what people are complaining about, as well as what they’re asking for. So, we ask the question: Are there opportunities where fixing the former addresses the current issue?
4. Breathing new life into the stagnant
Make usability and aesthetic improvements to the less-exciting parts of your product. Your Terms of Service page? I bet it could use a little typographic love. Your user account management area? Maybe spend time adding some great micro interactions. Do you have a systems status page? No? Maybe you should make one (and host it on a separate service).
All these tweaks will combine to make your product feel maintained and of the highest quality.
5. Addressing technical debt
Lowering the technical debt, you’ve accumulated allows you to improve the stability and reliability of your product. It’s largely invisible work, but it allows you to more quickly and cheaply iterate on new features.
6. Don’t be boring, try something new
Refined products are stable and predictable, and enjoy a great deal of word-of-mouth success. With product velocity slows down in a healthy way (functional and profitable), you are free to explore other product opportunities and diversify your offerings. Sometimes this means leaving your comfort zone.
It can be a humbling and sobering experience to understand and work through all of this. But always keep the end goal in mind: building a successful product that meets a person’s actual needs. If you’d like help clarifying the focus of your product with our team, get in touch with us.
There is a reason to be excited for your product idea and development, it is awesome after all. However, we understand that as an early-stage founder, you need to remember what makes your product great and highlight the features that are unique to your organisations and we at Borne can help you in achieving that go.