Turning your idea into a product

How to turn your next great idea into a prototype and then into a product.

How many times, while you are walking down the street or on public transportation, or while you are at home during these times of pandemic, have you seen a new product and said: “I thought about it before… aghhh! I would be a millionaire!!!”

Maybe many! And that is why the difference between the ideas that come true and those that do not are people and their capacity for action and execution. Throughout my professional experience, I have seen great pitches that described great ideas. Still, in the end, they ended up filed in some Google Drive folder… ideas are important, and having the ability to generate them in quantity and quality is also important, but the execution is everything! (Here is my webinar on how to design digital products in 5 days)

This is why I have always believed (and applied) that making digital products is about following a methodological process (How to build and validate a digital product?) That allows you to investigate quickly, meet users, design, and launch, confirming or discarding hypotheses that lead to what started as an idea, most likely on paper, becoming a product that solves a real pain in a specific customer segment.

This process consists of 5 stages that end up forming an iterative learning cycle that allows the product to evolve and keep it in a "beta state" of continuous improvement:

1. Define the problem to solve
2. Validate client archetype
3. Define the value proposition
4. Design an initial prototype
5. Launch the MVP - minimum viable product

DEFINE THE PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED

The first thing we must understand is what is going to be solved. The products should not be built from technology or design only; it is necessary to define the customer segments and identify which are their main jobs, their needs, what are those things that hurt them in their day to day and not only concerning the idea you have but in general ... we must go from seeing people only as customers and seeing them as human beings who adopt products to solve their problems.

This is how several methodologies have been developed to "decipher" people (or personas hypotheses) that use our product. The two that I use the most are the Customer profile canvas and the Empathy Map, which are absolutely complimentary. They allow us to deepen our understanding of the pains and problems to be solved with our idea.

VALIDATE YOUR PERSONAS

Once the segment and the problem to be solved have been defined, a moment of validation comes (the first of many ...), it is time to sit down to talk with potential clients or users, receive feedback and validate the hypotheses about the pains raised.

There are several ways to validate the customer archetype and its characteristics, from face-to-face, one-to-one interviews to virtual surveys on social networks; here is a list of possible tools:

1. 1:1 face-to-face interviews
2. Virtual interviews such as Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, Skype.
3. Virtual Surveys, Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, among others.
4. Linkedin Polls
5. Twitter Polls
6. Instagram Polls

DEFINE THE VALUE PROPOSITION

We already have some certainty of the problem that we will solve and to whom we will solve it; now is the time to understand how we will solve it! And for this, I use the methodology of Value Proposition Canvas, developed by Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur, that allows us to design a value proposition understanding the products and services that are going to be offered, which characteristics of that products solve the pains of the client, and what are the differentials or value-added generators towards them.

The definition of the value proposition must be accompanied by more validation; building a product is, in my concept, a totally iterative exercise that requires constant feedback from the client, who ends up is the one who decides whether or not to adopt the product. At this point, there is no better validation than putting a prototype in their hands and starting to evolve!

PROTOTYPE YOUR PRODUCT

Now is the moment to design and build ... based on the validated value proposition, it is time to make the first version of your product. A prototype represents what we want from the product; it can be built on paper, or designed in some digital tool, in an explanatory video, or even in 3D models when it comes about tangible products. The objective is to have something so that the user with whom we will validate the value proposition and product functionalities can interact and give us feedback.

Having an initial prototype allows us to validate the value proposition and the functionalities that add the most value to customers before starting technological developments or product production, allocating resources within a project more efficiently. Entrepreneurship or launch of a new product.

In general, I usually go through 3 phases to design a prototype (Attend my webinar on Design Digital Products in 5 days clicking here):

  1. Write the product flows; it means to draw a step by step storyboard of the experience that the client will live within the product, how he finds me, how he registers, how he interacts with the main functionalities, etc.…

  2. Drawing or designing each of the product flow steps digitally is known as designing the wireframes, a low fidelity design but one that allows the product to be outlined.

  3. Finally, more validation!

LAUNCH A MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT

We have already built a prototype and validated it; what remains? Continue to evolve the product, collect the insights and suggestions of the validations, and build the minimum version of the functional product and deliver value to customers. The objective is to do it quickly, develop or produce a product with the basic characteristics; remember that there is no better validation than putting something in the client's hands and that it is he who helps us evolve and strengthen the product.

From now on, it will be a constant learning exercise of keeping the product in a “beta state” and adding new functionalities or changing features that add even more value for customers.