Product Design Good Enough Won’t Win You The Race

Good Enough Won’t Win You The Race

Getting a new digital product off the ground is never easy. Digital change and transformation is hard to understand for a lot of people and every projects need advocates at every level of an organisation.

“Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once and you’ll suck forever.” – Brian Wilson

What can we do to explain what our project is all about? How do we get a buy-in from all stakeholders?

We visualise our idea and test our concept at the earliest possible stage.

We want it now and we want it all

It is amazing how fast creative people are able to come up with visual design concepts. With today’s technologies it is possible to create mockups which are so close to a real application experience that you will always hear some people ask: “Can we use this right away?”

And that’s the buy-in we want. We need users to participate in the creation process of our new digital world. We want them to give feedback, deliver usage data, help us detect logic flaws. That’s why we want a minimum viable product (the MVP) up and running as soon as possible.

Let’s get out something fast

At this point a lot of projects fail miserably. If you want to get it wrong for sure, look at your design prototype, take a red marker and cross out everything that is too complex, resource intense or not cool enough to impress the project sponsor.

Usually that kind of MVP still takes a few weeks to build. People start to get impatient. Finally the first release is out. And joyful anticipation turns into unpleasant frustration. Your red marker sucked the life out of your product.

Today users are not impressed by the fact we can create applications. They are impressed by the value digital products can add to their everyday life and work experience.

Faster, faster

A common misconception with “being agile” in application development is that the first version of a product will always be unsatisfactory. That the only important thing is to be able to iterate on it. To be able to show progress. Look how fast we are heading towards something that “works”!

The value for the user? Well, we know how cool the product will be one day! And if people lack phantasy they still can refer to the design prototype. After all we tackled quite some nifty backend challenges…

We call this the “Good Enough Approach”. Agile development teams like to go by the rule: 1) make it work, 2) make it better. What does “it works” actually mean? Software “works” if people love to use it.

So what to do instead?

Hold it. And take one step back

Value is key. Your product has a ton of features? Hard to tell what’s the most important in it? Keep iterating on the design concept. And once you discovered the true core value of your product, never let it go!

The acronym MVP should stand for “minimum value proposition”. And Lawrence McCahill even suggests to forget about the MVP altogether. Instead build the MLP, the “minimum lovable product”.

It’s so tempting to start implementing right away once you got all your stakeholders on board, but don’t. Instead create a fork of your design which resembles the core of the value of your product.

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At the heart of things

Make this version of your product as small as possible, but don’t exaggerate. To deliver true value, you probably cannot skip the most challenging parts. Instead strip away all the low hanging fruits.

If you build a food delivery service for example, don’t start with a huge menu and the message “online ordering available soon”. Instead start with five or even less dishes and make sure that ordering and delivery works flawlessly.

To kick off implementation successfully you’ll need the buy-in of every stakeholder on both: Your design prototype which stands for the vision behind the product and it’s small sibling, your design MVP.

Make sure your users love your piece.

As much as you and your team love building it.


This article was co-authored with Stefanie Fleisch, based on many of our conversations. Check out her UX strategy, design and development company.


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