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Product feature prioritization and life cycle

Working with talented product designers always keeps you on your toes. They are constantly dreaming up new solutions to improve our products making it a challenge to keep everyone on track and focused on the prioritized initiatives.

Our product managers work very hard when it comes to prioritizing the teams initiatives and roadmap by collaborating with stakeholders and executive team. Our team initiatives always start with a problem.

Always start with a problem

We never start with proposing a new feature, we only start by bringing up a problem. For example, users aren’t watching videos in category “Z”. It seems like we are fishing for problems on our app but we are actually making sure we are asking the right questions. Questions are an entry way to discovery. Once we have a list of problems we begin to define them.

Questions are an entry way to discovery.

Defining the problem involves a lot of questions and hypothesis. Once we have each problem clearly defined we prioritize them on our quarterly roadmap.

Our prioritization cycle goes as follows:

  1. Problems that affect customer money or peventing users from or accessing the site.
  2. Problems that is affect customers workflow like watching videos, navigations.
  3. Problems that we notice but don’t require immediate attention.
  4. Nice to haves

Ideation

Once our designers have the problems they are trying to solve defined and prioritized then they start having fun 🤘. This is where we throw every idea out there. We are looking for the quickest and easiest way to solve this problem. We never try to figure out the long term solution. This allows us to think big inside a small box. Thinking “outside the box” is overrated 👎.

Once we have a potential solution, we poke holes in it and ask more questions. We don’t expect the solution to be perfect but we do have a goal in mind. This is all done on paper through user flows and sketches. Most people would rely heavily on research here but we typically use research to help define the problem or after we ship the feature depending on the scenario.

Wireframing

Once we have a potential solution defined we get ready to present to stakeholders. This is done very informally since our entire team sits in the same room but there are requirements before pitching a concept.

We typically present using a low fidelity prototype. The goal here is to allow everyone to play with the concept and ask more questions. At this point we have mostly ironed out the major kinks so we move pretty fast through this process.

UI & Visual design

Once the prototype feels good enough, we start designing the interface. We have a large pattern library where we can pull or add elements. We then quickly piece the feature together and since we also have a brand library we quickly fill in the brand styles then “ship it”, to engineering that is.

Tools we use:

Slack (Chat)

Invision (Critique)

Principle (Prototype)

Framer (Prototype)

Sketch (Design tool)

Baymard (Research)

Forrester (Research)

Lingo (UI library)

Airtable (Product management)

Conclusion

This process might seem really intense and slow but most features are completed in one day or sometimes multiple features a day for design. The heavy lifting is done by product managers. Defining the problem is the most time consuming part but we know that putting in the work at the beginning allows our design team to move very quickly.

What are some principles you and your team follow in your process?