Product Management: Key Points of User-centered Design

Many companies spend resources focused on developing a product they know will work better than anything else on the market. They work hard to develop that end product zeroed in on what features it will offer and how it will stand out from the competition.

But, what about the customer?

In every industry, it’s essential to design a product based on the pain points and needs of the end customer. Doing so ensures a better long-term outcome. To do this, focus on these ten areas.

#1: Become the User

By far the most effective method of understanding the user experience is to take on the role of the user. Use products already on the market as a starting point. What are the frustrations the user experiences? Now, this means more than just using your product. Define who the user is. Where are they using the product? Why are they using it? Why are they in need of the product. This insight provides incredible, actionable information you can use.

#2: Target a Specific Pain Point

What is the most common cause of difficulty by a user right now? If they are using a competitor’s product, define which area they are most overwhelmed by. For example, this could be the product’s layout. Focus first on addressing just one – the largest – pain point.

#3: Ask the Customer

Market research is always an important part of any product development. Yet, often, the designer doesn’t get involved in the process. Why not do so? Gather a group of your most likely customers. Talk with them one-on-one. What do they say about the product?

#4: Zero in on How Your Customer Uses the Product

This may seem simple. For example, if you have a product management program, you assume people are using it in their office, overseeing a group of people. But, are they mobile? Would they benefit from an application designed for a specific industry or sector of their business? Step into their office to gather this information.

#5: Contact Existing Customers

For those working to develop a new version or extension of their existing product, your current customer base is by far the best asset you have. Design a product based on your existing customers’ needs, concerns, and input.

#6: Define the Tangible, Bottom-line Profits

When creating a solution to a problem, your goal is to solve the problem. But, other products may already do this. In this situation, aim instead to create real benefit. Generally speaking, this means bottom-line savings and a dollar-and-cent savings opportunity for the user. If you want them to make a switch to your product, you need to make the benefits clear. Design the product to focus on this benefit.

#7: Develop Real-Life Functionality and Benefits

Again, going into the space of the user is important. But, this isn’t something to do just in the development phase. Instead, test and troubleshoot your product in real life scenarios. If you are working on a product for the construction industry, take your prototype to the job site. See how it functions in real situations.

#8: Design for the User Based on Their Goals

When designing for millennials, for example, you’ll find they are more likely to choose a product over another product if they can get behind the company. Perhaps you are working to develop an app. No matter the features or the incredible tools it offers – be sure to pay attention to what will help the audience to react. For example, donate some profits to a charity. Discuss your eco-friendly business methods.

#9: Gather Intense Feedback

No developer wants to hear the bad about their product. You’ve put a lot of hard work into it – not to mention the time and money. But, listening to the feedback you’re given, from real-world users, is going to help you develop a better solution. If your customer says there’s too much lag, don’t blame it on their connection. Instead, use this as a tool to help you find a workaround or solution for them.

#10: Value Your Team and Their Insight

Many times, product developers focus solely on the end user. However, their team – the people working to develop the product with them right now, is already using the product. They know the industry. They know your customer. Always include the team in the overall design of the product. It provides more viewpoints and outstanding support.

In nearly every situation, product design must focus on the end user’s experience and needs. Yet, companies simply cannot assume they know what the customer’s experiences, needs, pain points, or goals are. Step into their shoes to gather this information. Every user-based experience you can have positions your product better.