In the past, projects involving new product development were typically allocated resources towards the complete project that “sounded great” and were therefore given time, people, and budget to explore. Sadly, and as many can attest, this was proven to be a waste of precious resources and time. We had earlier wasted so much money in our industry due to these poor project management practices. This included not having enough upfront planning or research done before starting work.
Their main drawback was that they were based on intuition rather than data. Intuition often leads us astray when making decisions about what products should exist and which ones shouldn’t. We need more evidence-based decision making if we want to make sure we’re building something useful and valuable.
Luckily, we have a better way to approach this today: Design thinking. This methodology was first developed by IDEO in the late 1970s and has been used successfully across industries such as consumer electronics, healthcare, automotive, fashion, food & beverage, retail, education, and more. The goal of design thinking is to develop something valuable and understand why users want what they do. By doing so, you can build products that meet customer expectations while simultaneously improving your company’s bottom line.
Design thinking is a powerful tool for startups and small businesses because it allows them to develop new ideas and test their hypotheses quickly. In this article, I will explain how design thinking can lead to better MVPs.
Benefits of Design Thinking Approach in Developing MVP
1) Faster Time to Market
When developing an idea into a working prototype, there are two ways to go about it:
1) Start from scratch
2) Use an existing framework/toolkit.
If you choose option 2, then you’ll likely end up spending weeks trying to figure out how to integrate all the pieces. Design thinking eliminates the need to integrate anything at all! You simply create a set of user personas, conduct interviews, observe customers using your product, and iterate until you find something that works well. Once you’ve found something that works, you can move onto the next step to further refine your solution.
2) More Valuable Products
Listening to your target audience is the key to discovering who they are, what problems they face, and their preferred solutions. When designing a product, you must first ask yourself, “what does my ideal customer look like?” Then, once you know that, you can begin to answer questions like “how could I help him solve his challenge?“ It may seem evident at first glance, but most companies fail to realize the importance of listening to a potential customer.
3) Less Waste
One thing that makes design thinking unique compared to other methods is its focus on understanding human behaviour instead of just solving technical issues. It is not uncommon for designers to spend a lot of time figuring out how to implement new features without considering whether those features matter to anyone. For example, let’s say you were tasked with creating a feature that allowed people to share photos online. How can we best provide this information? How might someone use this feature? Would sharing photos online improve or hinder their experience? It’s hard to answer these types of questions without talking to real people. But since interviewing people isn’t always feasible, design thinking provides another alternative – observing actual usage patterns.
4) Increased Customer Loyalty & Retention
As mentioned above, design thinking focuses heavily on learning more about your target market by talking directly to them or by observing them. By doing so, you gain valuable insights that allow you to understand better why certain products succeed. From these findings, you can make decisions regarding future iterations based on feedback received from previous versions. This means that when you release new versions of your app, you won’t need to worry as much about losing current customers because they already had a chance to try out your latest iteration.
How Design thinking Leads to Better MVPs
A minimum viable product (MVP) is essentially a minimum product version that solves a specific problem. Since it doesn’t include everything needed to launch a full-fledged product, it forces developers to prioritize which parts of the application should receive priority attention. This allows them to build only the functionality required for users to achieve their goals while still providing enough value to justify continued development. In short, if you’re looking to develop a high-quality product in less than six months, design thinking will save you tons of time and money.
Identifying the target audience is the first step in any design thinking project. You need to know who you’re trying to reach before you start designing anything. Once you’ve identified the problem or opportunity, you’ll then move onto defining the solution. Next comes ideating — brainstorming all possible ways to address the issue at hand. Finally, there’s prototyping — creating low-cost prototypes that allow you to validate whether your idea solves the problem.
Your goal here is to get user feedback on your initial concept. If you don’t receive positive responses, you may need to change your prototype until you find one that works well enough to continue moving forward.
When developing your MVP, you should keep these three points in mind:
1) Understand the Problem – Before starting any design work, you must define the problem you wish to solve. What is the pain point that you are attempting to address? How would someone use your product if it didn’t exist yet? Why did they choose to buy your competitor’s version instead? These questions will help you get a deeper understanding of your customer and guide you through every stage of your design thinking journey.
2) Define Potential Solutions – After identifying the problem, you now need to determine which core features you’d like to include in your MVP. Do you plan to add social media sharing capabilities? Maybe an analytics dashboard? Or perhaps even some sort of gamification mechanics? Whatever feature you decide on, ensure that each element serves its purpose within the context of solving the original problem.
3) Prototype It! – Prototyping is where most designers spend 80%+ of their time. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Instead, focus on building out just 1–2 screens worth of functionality. Use wireframes, mockups, paper prototypes, etc., whatever method best suits your needs. Just remember to test early and often throughout development. The critical thing to note about this step is that you shouldn’t be afraid to fail. As long as you learn from your mistakes, you won’t end up wasting too much time and resources.
Once you have a working MVP, you can begin testing with real customers.
In summary, design thinking helps us understand our problems better by asking ourselves what we want to accomplish and why. We then go ahead and create solutions based on those answers. Design thinking also gives us the freedom to iterate over multiple ideas without worrying about spending thousands of dollars upfront. Lastly, design thinking provides us with a framework to evaluate potential products to avoid making costly mistakes along the way. If you follow the steps discussed in this article, you’ll end up with a much stronger MVP than you started with. And once you launch, you’ll see how quickly your user base grows because of it.