Why do you need a team to make a great digital product?

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So what makes a great product? Everyone has their own definition, you have yours, I have mine. But what matters most is your markets, and what they think makes a great product — after all, you are making the product for them. So, with that in mind, it’s safe to say that a good product:

  • solves a real problem or need, and
  • is used in reality as a solution by those who have this problem or need.

Now, how do you build such a product? You probably want to start by spending some time with potential users, exploring the problem and how to shape a solution.This also prevents you from spending resources on false assumptions. Even if you are designing a not-so-complex, perfectly non-digital tool, like a snow shovel let’s say — you need to know your market and the problem you are solving so you can make the usage intuitive.

Do you have the skills it takes?

Okay, let’s sit down, grab a pen and put together a list of what skills you need to create that great product.

First, you need the skill of understanding your market and how your idea fits in, revealing potential market gaps, crafting a strategy — let’s call it strategic consultancy skills.

Building the concept, you will need to perform user experience research and design, for which you will need some serious research, conceptualization and validation skills: interview and understand your potential users, create wireframes, mockups or even a clickable prototype, get user feedback, measure their behaviour and learn from it for the next round.

Of course, you need the technological skills to build your product itself. So that’s frontend and backend development along with mobile and hardware considerations.

You also need some top notch design skills to create a refined user interface that lets users navigate your tool in an intuitive way. This skill set stretches to branding and tone of voice too which is all part of creating a user interface with serious wow factor.

Finally you need quality assurance skills. Putting into practice all of these other skills (which by the way needs project management skills) means nothing unless you are confident that you have created something free from flaws, hacks, blue screens or typos.

Oh, and let’s not forget to mention marketing skills, to let your customers know about your product, and build and maintain a fruitful relationship between them and your product.

Whoa! So many. Each superpower above is a profession by itself, with its own science, set of tools, methods and best practices — and your product needs all of them.

You may want to cover some of them yourself. But even if you feel experienced at each, there are only so many hours in the day, so you are going to need some help.

Without a team

Do you always need a team to cover the skills above? No. You might argue that you only need developers and you may be right. Maybe you have your business plan, or a working product that only needs a little facelift. At this point, you know your project better than I do.

However, we experienced that even in these cases, you are better off with a team — with a twist. We believe in implementing the right skills at the right time, throughout the project, all managed seamlessly by a project manager. It’s a bit like sheet music — the PM is the conductor and the professionals are the musicians. The smallest team we work with is three people and one of those would be you. But it is much more common to have a pool of experts, and as we move towards completion, you will work with each discipline as required.

A simple sheet music

You might also say that you could project manage the work yourself and that you don’t need things like UX. Well, we would advise that you research these professions carefully and talk to your developing team because there are lots of common misconceptions that might catch you out.

If you are concerned about cost, compare their hourly rate to yours and take a good look at your diary — do you have time to commit to the product in order to make it a success? Will you lose money elsewhere by trying to save money here?

The last thing to note — be wary of those who promise they can deliver all disciplines. Could a bricklayer build an entire house from start to finish?

Here is the list of scenarios you can choose from, from best to worst:

  • You hire a team of experts — one for each role, working together under the same roof
  • You hire experts who don’t know each other yet (if they will work together remotely, worse)
  • You hire a non-expert (e.g. your developer will do UX, or even worse: yourself)
  • You wait for your customers to point out the bits you missed or did badly — by ignoring your product

But enough of this gloom and doom — let’s see the plus side now.

So what are the main advantages of hiring a team for your project?

We saw the above team renting model work in multiple cases — yours will probably be one of them. Here are some advantages for consideration:

First up, experience. It definitely pays to hire someone with up-to-date experience. More experience also means routine and effectiveness and that is a money-saver.

Second, brain power. How does that saying go — two heads are better than one? So a whole team would be great! Team members share feedback, ideas and inspiration, deliver great brainstorms and clarify the blurry points.

Third, you. Your knowledge is essential for the team to deliver your product, but that is all you need to contribute. Don’t take on extra roles and stick to what you know best — your vision for the product.

Takeaways

  • If you build a digital product, you will have many more aspects to cover besides development
  • You cannot play a team sport alone, you had better learn to pass the ball
  • You can save a lot of money and frustration if you hire a team of experts, who preferably already know each other and work together
  • You are a member of this team, and as a member, only contribute your strengths

If you ever question whether you need an expert for a particular role, always ask yourself — is good enough really good enough?