NEXT TIME, GO FROM IDEA TO PROTOTYPE
In the summer of 2015, after coming back from a paid internship at Waterloo Blackberry, a place where I witnessed and participated in hackathons run by Google and Communitech. I was ready to start my own startup, I did do that with my friend Julio. Unfortunately, we made a huge mistake! We decided to build an MVP[Minimum Viable Product] without ever doing product design. Once we presented the MVP to a local group called Silicon Halton, gee! good thing that was a small group we know and not investors! We were unprepared for the questions they gave us and miserably failed at certain areas of our product. Had we prototyped and did more planning we would have been better prepared. Simply, what we learned as developers and a startup team, was to start with “product design” before building the software.
WHY START WITH PRODUCT DESIGN?
Well, let’s first define design then product design. “Design is a plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is built or made”. Design then to me, is about solving a problem for a group of people by building a prototype based on listening to the group of peoples problems you are building the prototype for.
Product design has many meanings to different people, in this article, it is defined as “the process of taking your product from idea to reality, and then building a business around it”.
HOW DOES PRODUCT DESIGN WORK?
To start off, product design has many components to it. They are in general:
Ideation and Validation
- This stage, a team goes through the process of User Research in order to find a product/market-fit.
- In simple terms, it is about finding people who share the same problems and building a product that makes the user’s life easier.
UI(User Interface)/UX)(User Experience)
- Now, at this stage, it goes from creating the user flow and user interfaces, that will help the users achieve their tasks.
- It is about asking what do they need?, what do they want?, and will the product or feature being built solve their problems?
- A concept being advocated by the Google Design team, it is about teams seeking to design, prototype, and test their ideas with customers, within time constraints.
- A moment where data is turned into insights for improved product features and better customer engagements.
- Simply, it is identifying metrics to what works and what doesn’t, and what can the team improve.
HOW DO I BECOME A PRODUCT DESIGNER?
After, receiving good and bad feedback from the people of Silicon Halton, Julio and I had a post-mortem, and what came out of it was that we needed a designer. We were able to recruit at different times, designers who were keen to help us, unfortunately, both of them were not a good fit with our team, and were more concerned about getting a part-time job, or could not handle the amount of stress that starting a startup , on top of school would entail. So in the end, I said to Julio that I would become not only a full stack developer, but a product designer as well. Now, with skipping some of my classes and teaching myself product design with various online resources, I can do product design because I can keep myself out my head and replace it with users in mind. If I can do it so can you!
“I can do product design because I can keep myself out my head and replace it with users in mind”
THERE ARE NO RESOURCES FOR PRODUCT DESIGN IN THIS ARTICLE! WHERE DO I START?
This article was to encourage you to start with design before coding, and to simplify a general overview of product design from a newbie’s perspective. Now, I would recommend the article, Intro To Product Design, by Stephanie Engle, a facebook product design intern. Her article is intended to help you follow some general steps from an idea to prototype drawn from her own experiences at Facebook.
ABOUT THIS ARTICLE:
This article was an inspiration from Stephanie Engle’s article called Intro To Product Design, as well as it was intended for the participants for the upcoming hackathon we are organizing for our school CodeBeyond club(which I cofounded :) ), in partnership with Tech Under 20, Silicon Halton, and hopefully, the Town of Oakville, and our beloved Sheridan College.