The path between vision and execution
If you’ve ever done a business course in college you’re probably familiar with the name Michael Porter, who is famous for profoundly stating — The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. Now that, for a young startup, is extremely hard to do. As there’s always so much work to be done… And yet like most things in life Product Strategy should be divided into 3 parts:
- Experience and UX strategy
- Navigation and Approach
- Assessment and intervention
Experience and UX Strategy
“What do you think of our design?” is by far the most popular question I get asked immediately when I start working as a mentor or consultant with a startup. My answer: “I don’t give a sh*t and neither should you! Not now at least”.
Entrepreneurs must keep in mind that the product will ALWAYS be a mean and not an end. It can be ugly. It can be slow. It can be full of bugs. And it doesn’t even have to be kept simple (stupid!). All that matters is the user’s experience and their perceived value!
Shall I challenge you with a few examples? Facebook, Twitter, eBay, YouTube, Amazon and my personal favorite Craigslist. Lousy products — great value and innovation.
Don’t agree?! Maybe that’s because you’re envisioning these products in their present state. But I’m talking about their look, feel and usability when they were initially launched. That’s when they had their market explosion and that’s when they became ‘hits’ (see how they looked back in the days).
These products were innovative, they either drew a ton of curiosity or made their users feel they’re getting value by the buckets.
You might say these examples are from too far in the past and that today’s standards are much more rigorous. But I don’t agree. Need a more recent example? Ever hear of Pokemon Go?
Back in the days when it was breaking installs and revenue records, the app was very slow to load, had horrible onboarding, crashed ALL of the time, had a very basic store monetization model, didn’t have any virality, share or invite a friend features and did not even support push notifications. All this coming from an experienced gaming app developer (Niantic) and under Nintendo’s supervising. And still, like it or not, no one can argue with the Pokemon’s success.
The common character in all these products is a unique and innovative experience. That’s what made them takeoff. It definitely wasn’t the tactics — it was the strategy!
Q. So, what’s the one goal for an early stage startup?
A. Reach Product/Market Fit before your time=money runs out!
If you’re a not familiar with the term I strongly suggest you start by reading Marc Andreessen’s pivotal article from 2007 and the many more articles written on this subject.
So what must you do to reach product/market fit quickly? Well, that demands an article by itself… But in order for that to happen you need to truly identified your target audience and understood their needs/pains. The experience you provide them needs to first and foremost be based on a unique value proposition. That in turn, dictates the feature set. And only then does UX and later UI come into play.
Now look back at the successful examples we discussed before. Can you identify their PMF? Think of how disappointed their users would have be in the case any of these products went offline a few months after launch. So when you build your next/current product, think of its core value proposition. How disappointed will your users be if you take it away from them? If the answer is not very much, then I would recommend considering changing the value proposition or the product as a whole.
Before we hurry to conclude, we must realize the difference between design, UI, UX and the experience strategyץ
In the next to come: Navigation and reassessment, and what’s that got to do with Yoda…