How To Create A Kick-Ass Product: Tips for shipping cheap & fast

This is the last article in a series about how to create kick-ass software products. You should probably read part 1: Use an Inter-disciplinary process.

I went into some of the details of creating a kick-ass product in the last few articles. Many of the principles can be called intuitive. The hard part is following those rules all the time. This article is a summary of everything I’ve mentioned before, and you can use it as a checklist maintain your focus.

Let’s review, what kind of product are we making? A product that takes minimal resources to build while satisfying your user and business needs.

Here are the major points you should focus on:

1. Define your goal & scope accordingly

Who is your target audience? What is most important to them? Scope the product to include features that are essential for your goal, and nothing else.

Is your goal to pitch to investors? Focus building a prototype that tells the ideal user story. Don’t worry about edge cases and reliability.

Is your goal to determine if an innovative feature will be well-received? Focus on assets and functionality required to test that feature’s user flow. You might not even need software for these user tests. Paper or InVision prototypes may suffice.

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel

For any part of your product that isn’t your main distinguisher, copy what has been done.

Need a landing page? Buy one from Creative Market.

Need a color scheme for your control panel? Copy your favorite from Dribbble.

Need some animation pizzazz in your app? Use a library.

3. Work in parallel

Structure your process so teams work in parallel as much as possible. I described this in part 1. Developers can start laying out the groundwork without design mockups. Designers can QA and triage while developers are still coding.

4. Ship as soon as your product is “barely” acceptable

Don’t wait until your product is perfect to ship it. It’s a little blurry what is the difference between “barely acceptable” and “unacceptable.” And it’s totally subjective depending on the philosophy of the product owner. The idea is to release as soon as your features are usable enough to provide significant value to the user, but don’t wait until your product is Apple-level polished (because you don’t have Apple-level funding).

This was the last part in a series about how to create kick-ass products. Have you read the other parts?

Part 1: Use an Inter-disciplinary process

Part 2: Cull your MVP ruthlessly

Part 3: User studies are cheap and easy

Part 4: Great UX balances emotion, efficiency, power, and simplicity

This series exists thanks to the encouragement and feedback from my friends:
Janet Chang — fellow entrepreneur and writer — who meticulously edited and made sense of my drafts
Matt Delaney— my cofounder at Konsult and builder of robots — who is my war buddy and kept me sane during all of the projects I’ve mentioned
Kyungmin Kim — fellow product designer and medium writer — without whom this would have been a super-long 1-part article instead of a digestible 5-part series
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