Will my Digital Product be Successful?

21 August, 2019
Product Success

How to test your product’s perceived value before investing time and money.

In the earlier stages of Station Five, we had a prospect who, for the purposes of this article, we shall call Jamie. Jamie approached Station Five because he had built the first iteration of his digital product, through which he was looking to disrupt an industry he had worked in for over two decades. We started by running through the product’s features, and the overall success of the business since the product’s completion. He had acquired two clients, with each paying $50 per month, and this was the validation he believed warranted investing more of his own savings into the next phase of the software.

Does this sound familiar to you? Perhaps you have a client, friend, or colleague who has been here before. It is extremely common.

The issue was that the product solved a problem that hadn’t been properly validated. In digital product development, this is generally solved for through extensive testing and interviewing processes.

User Experience – Testing

The field of user experience (UX) has brought an innovative approach to testing that gathers additional information about the product and how it is used. Ideally, UX specialists are involved in thinking about the testing phase before your product is built. This includes a number of data driven steps including: building user personas, interviewing potential users to validate assumptions, and building low-fidelity wireframes that ensure the product is built with the potential users in mind from the beginning. Following these steps, the development is more targeted and allows the testing phase to be executed more smoothly because there are frameworks in place around the target audience.

For the testing phase, potential users can be incentivised with a Coles or JB Hifi gift card to share their feedback on the product. This allows the developer and founder a greater understanding the journey that the user actually takes to complete these tasks. This helps determine how closely the actual journey resembled the projected journey, what changes are required, and how different people think and behave.

While this testing might seem like a difficult task, Neilson’s research has demonstrated that only five testers are required to discover 85% of the problems with a piece of software. Especially if each of these users represents different personas, they will each bring their unique profile and needs to the software experience to provide valuable feedback.

Following this initial round of changes and updates, testing with an additional five users should catch the majority of the remaining improvements required to go live with at least a beta version.

t is important to mention that testing does not end when launching a product. Constantly gathering user feedback (and system errors) to make updates that not only fix bugs, but build a variety of features will surely enhance the user experience moving forward.

Software Development – Testing

While to an outsider, testing might seem like a luxury, it is an essential phase of the software development cycle. Even with the best development team, when different users with various backgrounds, degrees of technical knowledge, and circumstances use the product, there are always bugs that require fixing. By planning testing processes during product development, there is the opportunity to understand these unique perspectives and resolve the bugs before the product release. These tests include unit and functional tests, performance tests, and penetration tests, which all target problems that could arise.

Founders as Industry Experts

While it might seem counterintuitive, startups with industry expert founders are less likely to succeed. People embedded in a field are likely to view themselves as experts and therefore rely heavily on personal feedback when scoping and testing their product. However, founders outside the industry can be more critical of it, and therefore challenge it from a higher level lens. This means that thinking like an “outsider” brings a greater degree of curiosity and openness to feedback, which leads to a better product.

The key takeaway here is don’t be a Jamie. Ensure that:

  1. The market needs your product before investing your time, money and effort
  2. Your platform reflects how customers want to use it following user experience testing
  3. You plan effective testing processes during product development, and after.

By focusing adequately on these tasks, you’ll avoid the common mistakes we see from many failed platforms.

Lambros Photios

Lambros Photios

I'm the founder and CEO of Station Five, one of Australia's fastest growing technology businesses. I specialise in idea conceptualisation and go to market, and work to provide startups with valuable information as host of The Venture Podcast.

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