Product Development For Non-Technical Founders

Most non-technical entrepreneurs tend to defer testing their product in the market until they find a technical co-founder to build it out. It’s not uncommon for people to think that in order to iterate on a product rapidly, someone with technical chops needs to be on board full-time. However, with the ubiquity of third-party tools, it’s easier than ever to get validation through a simple MVP without even writing a single line of code.

These tools prove to be invaluable in getting feedback on a product idea quickly and can confirm active interest from users right before resources are put in place to actually develop the product. Here are a few ways one can use already existing tools to go about early prototyping, getting validation and testing an idea.

1. Early Prototyping

It’s no secret that great design is the center of the best user experiences. With that in mind, the lack of an engineering or design background should not stop you from putting preliminary designs together to make an MVP.

While your MVP may not look exactly like what you wanted, it’s definitely enough to start showing people what your product does. Being able to put together prototypes quickly is a great way to get feedback on your product without actually putting in major resources to build it.

Tools for execution:

One particular resource that let’s you use existing design templates and also let’s you run A/B tests with those resulting pages is Unbounce. They do a great job of setting up landing pages and helping you track how different users respond to your A/B tests.

You can find more information about prototyping tools here.

2. Getting ‘Unbiased’ Validation

Most investors will tell you that talking to your potential customers is the most important thing. It’s no secret that listening to your users and iterating your product based on their feedback is imperative if you want to succeed.

However more often than not, some founders can’t bring themselves to ask strangers for opinions on their website/app or end up asking people they know which may lead to biased answers that don’t really give you real feedback.

Tools for execution:

A tool called Peek by UserTesting has made it incredibly simple to see how users work with your prototype in an unbiased way for free. Signing up with your email and app lets you see how random people interact with your product. People with the Peek app within UserTesting’s network record themselves using the prototype and verbally narrate what their initial reaction on the product is.

You get three Peek sessions with each email signup which can push you through significant iterations. This proves to be a great way to get unbiased feedback in order to keep iterating on features that optimize the main functionality of the product.

3. Testing Before Building

Given the intensive time and resources it takes to iterate on products, some companies have employed ways to get customer validation even before the product is actually built. An example of this is shown in Gabriel Weinberg’s book, Traction where he interviews Matthew Monahan, CEO and Co-founder of Inflection, the company behind, a genealogy site that was eventually sold to for $100 million.

In the interview, Monahan talks about using search engine marketing through Google AdWords to drive traffic to landing pages in order to decide what product they should make. Each landing page was made to gauge interest in a specific product approach. For example, titles of ads leading to landing pages read “discover as many of your ancestors,” “trace your family tree as far back as possible” or “find out if you’re related to a celebrity.” By measuring the click-through-rate for each of these ads leading to landing pages, they were able to gauge the users’ interest in a specific product approach that would define going forward.

This way, they knew they would be building something people actually wanted with data backing their assumptions. More so, they were able to consolidate their resources and focus on the validated product idea. This method proves to be a great way to hone in on a potential product that users would be interested in before putting in the resources to build it out.

Tools for execution:

Although Google AdWords campaigns might not yield a lot of data since people currently don’t click on search engine ads as much, other platforms like Facebook prove to be an even better way to execute on this. With Facebook, you’re able to hone in on specific demographics and target ads more effectively.

Using this in a similar way to the example above, you could measure the click-through-rate for each specific product approach you might think off. Each ad would lead to a landing page outlining some information on what the product could be. You could also add an email capture so you can gather an email list to send your final product to when it actually launches.

These and many other tools prove to be very valuable in validating your idea and helping you get closer to finding product/market fit. It also helps you build out the rest of your team by giving them confidence, given that you have actual data on what users think of the product.

If you end up with a product that users resonate with and want to to see how you can build it out further, feel free to get in touch with Dorm Room Fund. We’d love to help in any way we can!