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Why you should gather feedback at all stages of product development

It’s easy to build things right if you have good product and technology teams but building right things require more than just good teams. One of the major issue with first-time entrepreneurs or even well-established product divisions in companies is that they rely heavily on their vision and sometimes vision + gut feeling and not on collected information. Feedback, in the form of specific information — not just some random data, is important at each stage of product development — ideation, prototyping, implementation.

Ideation Stage

When you want to build something new, it’s better to do some customer (prospects) interviews and experience first hand whether your vision is in sync with what the audience needs. Unless you are making something which will “wow” almost all people you interview or “go off the roof” for most people, there is a high chance that you will get a good amount of constructive feedback even before you start building. And this feedback is going be very useful in setting up the product roadmap. And if you can rope in Design Thinking in addition to customer interviews, even better.

Design Thinking

Go do some Empathy Interviews (Immerse, Observe, Engage).

Be Human. Seek Stories. Talk About Feelings

Image Source: D School Stanford — Wiki

In the age of Big Data, all product decisions should be based on information and not just intuition or fancy visions. Customer interview(s) is a great tool to collect the needed information.Doing customer interviews saves time and money. And if you have done it correctly, it may help in your early-stage VC pitch. And the most important benefit is that you will build a better product.

If there are a lot of gaps between what the vision was and the feedback was, do more iterations . Else, we can take all constructive feedback and move to the next stage.

The earlier we know whether our idea will work or not, the better.

Prototyping Stage

Next step, after validating your “vision” with prospective customers or a set of people is to go and create mockups, brainstorm on how everything should work.There are many tools available for doing this. Here’s some of them

  1. Mocking Bot
  2. Balsamiq
  3. Marvel
  4. Invision

You can sign up beta users at this stage. Get them involved, ask them for design feedback. A good prototype can be converted into an actual app that runs on a device and showcased to potential users for feedback.

You can work on a quick and dirty implementation of the product and create a working prototype and let users actually try it.

Go ahead and look for Angel Investment at this stage if you have a really good prototype.

It’s very important to get things right at this stage. The feedback that you get at this stage will help you reduce cost during development and also ensure that you prioritize product development well.

Implementation Stage

It’s important to gather data related to user and application behavior. In fact, the most important thing is your analytics metrics. Make sure analytics is baked in from Day 1 in your product.

You should have beta testers ready to test the app right from its first development release. There is no need to get many beta testers. A bigger audience is not necessarily the best audience. Carefully selected 20–30 beta testers will give much better feedback than randomly picked up 100s of beta testers. Beta users must cover a major population of your potential users (think age group, geography, device type, familiarity with technology).

Right feedback for important releases will help you determine whether you are building what you intended to and if what you build will be widely adopted or not. Change, of course, is not that easy — it’s always to break up product releases into small milestones and get feedback regularly.

Finding the right beta users is not an easy task.If you are building a B2B product, you can rope in interested team members from your company. If you are building a B2C product, rope in interested members from friends & family and also allow other interested users to sign up for early access. If you can come up with ways to incentivize beta users that always helps.

If you are building an app, you can find your beta testers online on several platforms:

  1. Beta Family
  2. Beta List
  3. User Testing

Keep your beta users engaged.You can also create email lists, Facebook groups, Reddit, public Slack channels — there are many other ways.

Your product should also have easy ways of reporting a bug or submitting feedback. That helps in the long run and even during beta testing.

Feedback from beta users or early adopters guides future development efforts and can uncover critical flaws that even the best product managers would not have considered when building the product roadmap.

If you already have a live product in the market and are looking at getting some new features tested by some users, you should implement feature flags. Feature toggle/flag is very good for rolling out a feature to selected users, getting back feedback & then incorporating it before rolling out to all users. All major internet companies use this technique often.

Feedback is the key to building better products.Go out and start the process for your product.

About Author

Arpit is a seasoned technologist with vast experience in leading large cross-functional and cross-geography teams. Arpit also consults clients on competitive market analysis, defining MVPs, product ideation, product monetization and go live strategies.

Arpit believes we should all contribute back to society. He has set his goals for social work in five broad areas. You can read more about the same in his blog post “Do Good, Together” on Tumblr. Arpit is interested in working with people who want to contribute towards the same goals.

You can follow Arpit on Linkedin or on Twitter

ABC. Always be clappin’.




Emerging Technologies, Software Development & More

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Arpit Goliya

Arpit Goliya

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