By answering these questions & following the steps, you’ll learn a simple way to build a digital product:
Who will use this product?
(eg. who is the customer, who are the admins, etc?)
[jargon: stakeholders, end users, provisional personas]
What is the main goal the user wants to achieve with it? Talk to actual people, watch them solve the problem they’re currently solving the usual way. Meanwhile, be sure to look at the competition, direct and indirect.
(eg. share photos, upload videos, order a cab, etc.)
[jargon: IA — Information Architecture, user stories, positioning, user behavior, assumptions, outcomes]
Once you’ve identified the key experience that would solve the user’s main problem, decide what key tools they’ll need to achieve the goal?
(eg. dynamic map, calendar, photo filters, etc.)
[jargon: features, feature focus map]
What are the steps the user needs to take to get to the goal?
Don’t get “click happy” here, the fewer steps, the better.
(eg. sign up / demo / upload first photo etc.)
[jargon: Happy Flow, User Flow, Workflow]
Keeping the (1) users, (2) the goals/outcomes, and (3) the tools in mind, sketch out boxes with text to visualize step 4. This ain’t your opportunity to say “I can’t draw”, everyone can draw a box & most of the world is catching up to literacy.
[jargon: low fidelity wireframes]
Now go to https://whimsical.co and create a digital version of step 5. Don’t worry, Whimsical will “hold your hand”, it’s the simplest way to really start thinking about what your product will look like with 0 knowledge of visual design. Or if you’re feeling risque, try https://marvelapp.com
[jargon: mid-level fidelity wireframing, prototyping]
This one time, you can skip this step. Normally, we’d take the screens created in step 6 and activate the buttons so they are clickable. This way, you can get a feel for how the information flows & make quick changes while the product is still in this low fidelity format. Once this is done, does it still feel like we’re focused on the goal or are we getting distracted? If yes, go back to step 6. This is essentially meant to check your work and the easiest way to do it is to share it with friends, ask their opinions. Walking others (just ask friends)through your work is the fastest way to clarify the initial vision for yourself as well.
(ie. use https://www.invisionapp.com/ or simply share step 6 with friends)
[jargon: Prototyping, UX Strategy — User Experience game plan]
Take feedback received in step 7 and make adjustments until the idea is validated to your liking. Now is the time to decide on what colors and fonts to use and where to place the buttons so the user can find them to get to his/her goal and have fun doing it. We need to create a visual hierarchy. Darker areas are usually looked at first and the user’s cursor movement pattern is a zig-zag from top left to bottom right. The best versions of this have little text and familiar/intuitive menu option locations (don’t reinvent the wheel, home is top left, the search is top right, etc.). Don’t overthink it, keep it black and white at first if you’re using a design tool, but better yet (if you’re not a designer or are not familiar with pro design tools), jump to https://www.wix.com/ or https://www.squarespace.com/ and skip design and code altogether.
[jargon: UI — User Interface]
If you didn’t jump to Wix or Squarespace in step 8, we’d normally prototype at this stage again (with a high fidelity design, don’t you touch that code yet!) to improve the feel of things (UX). (ie. is the text big enough and legible, are the buttons comfortable enough size to be clicked, are they placed in familiar enough spots? Are we staying on our goal in the shortest number of steps? etc.)
[jargon: UX— User Experience, UR — User Reaserch]
At this stage, rethink the whole thing to be “one step ahead” of the user and prototype those elements as well.
(ie. Gmail’s “you used the word attachment in your email, but you didn’t attach anything. send anyway?”)
Global: The entire team, including engineers, marketers, sales, support, etc should follow along the entire time to implement constructive feedback, feasibility and just for team spirit. Now that you’ve green flagged feasibility, market signals/interest and polished the experience with the whole team onboard, begin coding. Engineers will drive the deadlines for the big launch of your first product.
[jargon: MVP — Minimum Viable Product]
If this helped you build a product or quickly explain an extra high-level product building process to a colleague, give it a clap. If you need further help, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org