“Canvasing” Canvas: A Value Proposition Design Approach

For most if not all HKS students Canvas is a double-edged sword. While this application at its core allows both students and teachers to share content, and interact as a community, it is not a perfect solution. As with most value added services, there are some things it does pretty well (i.e. one stop shop for course content), and some it does rather poorly (i.e. the smartphone app). However, solitarily evaluating it from a value proposition design approach gave me some insight into why this may be the case.

1. It is tough to comprehensively identify what a specific customer segment wants in the absence of discussion with a larger sample size. Though I am a student my needs may be different from another student’s. For example while some may like Canvas’s auto generated assignment/exam tracker, others — including myself — would find it more useful if it could be easily integrated with their Gmail calendar (sidebar: this may already be the case but I have yet to figure it out!). Such nuances are difficult to address, and likely get even more complicated as designers try to create solutions for more diverse segments.

2. Developing best fit value propositions will be maximized if the product/service undergoes a continuously iterative process. In addition to getting customer jobs, pains and gains “right” it is important to also understand their relative ranking of these issues as these ultimately determine how valuable a solution truly is. It will be hard to get a clear sense of this and ensure that value creation is both accurate and maximized until developers can test some version (quick and dirty works!) of their solution with customers and build on this as needed based on feedback. Thus evaluation cannot be mutually exclusive from the design/test/launch stage, and should happen continuously.