Remember the Big Picture

When developing a product, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. You think your product is perfect and that everyone is going to love it. You’ve spent months tweaking your design, and you finally give it to focus groups to test before you send it off to manufacturing. However, when you get the feedback from user testing, you are shocked. They can’t figure out how to use it. It’s useless. They hate it. Shaking your head, you can’t believe you got it so wrong. Don’t worry, there’s an easy way to avoid this problem, and an even better way to make sure your product is a hit.

The Crucial Question

Most likely, your design team has made a fatal mistake by forgetting to ask a crucial question: Is this a product that people actually want?

You may think this is obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies forget this step. They think that they know what their users want based on prior experience, but they’re wrong. Take Microsoft’s Zune MP3 player or Google’s Nexus Q social media stereo. No focus group is going to say that a state of the art product isn’t cool, but if they don’t want or need it in the first place, they won’t buy it. Unless you’re the next Steve Jobs with an uncanny ability to determine what your customers want before they do, you’re probably going to need a different plan.

While many successful products are developed from one golden idea, we all know that coming up with ideas is challenging, and coming up with good ideas is nearly impossible. Instead of spending money developing a product that no one wants or spending hours brainstorming, try developing a surefire product before spending any money at all.

Ensuring Your Product’s Success

Impossible, you say? Not so. The Stanford University d.school has an innovative 5-step process for design thinking that will change how you develop products. Instead of starting with an idea, they start with people, simply by asking them what they want. In just 90 minutes, you can completely change your team’s way of thinking and come up with a truly great idea.

The Crash Course is done in pairs or groups, where each group designs the ideal gift for the other entity. The gift can be replaced with many concepts, such as the ideal breakfast experience or the ideal shopping bag. The key to the crash course is that it takes a real person’s experiences and creates a product based on their needs. By asking questions, coming up with ideas, asking for feedback and quickly prototyping a concept, the 5-step process is a reliable way to ensure that your product is something that your user wants. And chances are, if that group finds your product useful, then someone else in the same demographic might want it, too. Check out the crash course here and start changing the way you think.

Featured image courtesy Stanford d.school (source).