Why Product Thinking is the only way to see your product?

Are you super busy in building a great app? Stop and think again!

The essentials of any product thinking.

Are you focused on delivering the exciting features back to back? Do you measure the quality of your work by how many features you have launched based on the customer demand?

You are not alone.

When we think about designing or building a product, we think about the features that our customers are asking for. And then we think about how fast we can deliver them.

The successful apps don’t work that way.

What often missing in this scenario is the core product thinking. When we create something, we often focus on the set of features and tiny little things that we think delight the user experience. But we forget the more important part which is the actual reason people will use that product.

Instagram is one of the most successful social media platform. Over 800 million people use their app and the most interesting thing is that instagram is not a competitor of the biggest social media platform on earth, which is Facebook.

Why?

What if Instagram started thinking the same way our most of the product teams do? They will start following what their customers have been asking for. They will start adding more features.

They could introduce ‘Pages’. They could introduce ‘Private Groups’. They could launch the ‘Events’. They could allow text-only posts so people don’t really need to attach photo or video with every post.

But they didn’t add any such thing.

Instead of focusing on what people are asking for, they started focusing on what people really need and what their product actually is.

Instagram doesn’t want to compete with facebook or any other social media platform. They are creating their own space and they are defining their own product which is very different from all other big players.

That is their strategy. And that is the product thinking.

But remember.

There is no one process of making great products.

You cannot make something great in one cycle. You have to keep checking what your product is doing, how people are reacting and what can your product actually do?

There are some defined questions that can help you answer most important parts but they are not the only one.

Great products always go through an evolutionary process. Some startups create an MVP and launch within a few weeks and then see how they can improve that app. But some startups work for month (or years in some cases) and then they launch the product.

The process can be different for every company.

Whether you are a UX designer or a product manager, your main focus should be building a right product for the problem of your target audience. You cannot build everything for them.

Some teams focus on the target audience and they follow blindly what their target audience is asking for.

Some teams focus on the problem and they start creating a ‘good’ solution.

But only few teams actually focus on understanding the problem of the target audience, think how they can solve that problem and define why they are doing this? Only these teams become successful.

Any product guy must know the following:

  • Who are the people you are focusing on? (Target audience)
  • What are their problems? (Problem statements)
  • What you want to do and why? (A clear vision)
  • What you want to achieve? (Business Objectives)
  • How you will achieve these goals? (Business strategy)
  • What exactly you will be delivering? (Features)
“Design” comes later.

Most people think that product thinking is about designing a great User Experience. But that’s not true. It is actually understanding and defining what you want to build and why? Not just focusing on the user experience but also crafting a business model.

Product thinking is a core skill that I cannot find in most of designers and product managers I have interviewed so far. All other skills can be taught easily. But you need time and a lot of energy to understand, think and practice the real approach.

So stop creating the features and start thinking about what your product can actually do for the people.


Ali Raza is a product guy who is managing the products and growth teams of IslamicFinder.org, which is the world’s largest online platform for Muslims. He also helps product managers, designers and developers to learn the skills they really need in their career like Product Thinking and Marketing. To talk to him, shoot an email to hello@aliraza.me