What does it really take to build great products that delight users? How does one go about accomplishing that without going overboard with developing features?
How do you get to that fundamental point that is crucial for every business — making something that people want.
Most companies die simply because they are not able to crack this.
The truth is — Building great consumer products is always hard. That’s why I am writing this.
In my past six years of experience of building products for startups across three continents, my biggest learning has been this — you need to ‘WOW’ your users.
Because if one person has that delightful first-time experience, they’re going to tell someone else about it! There is simply no better way to grow and companies must leverage this human-centric growth approach in the initial days.
And while this may sound simple, very few companies follow this approach while building their MVP. I have seen barely usable products pushed into the hands of the users to gather feedback.
Or sometimes, the feature that could make the real difference in the overall experience for the users was missing!
I will give you an example.
While building multiple consumer social apps with Spangle, we missed out a basic point — setting up a content tone by seeding the platform with the kind of content we want our users to create internally.
But we realised that if that tone is not set, people come and create any type of content and spam community! Since they won’t get the basic idea of what the platform is all about, it will lead to a confusing and broken experience.
This was just one example.
It’s usually something like this that people miss out while pushing out the first version of their product.
Many people have written around building products. There are thousands of articles but nobody talk about basic fundamentals.
As for me, I believe in one simple thing — making incredible product experiences.
When I started building Marsplay, this belief was at the core of everything. The team spent countless hours to build the tool that allowed users to tag the exact product that they were wearing, without having to go on any third party shopping platform to fetch the link.
While this was a big challenge, we knew that making the content creation process as simple and delightful as possible is the only way to make our users say ‘Wow’!
After more than 500 personal DMs and hundred of questions, I am writing my learnings from building Minimum Delightable product rather than just MVP.
And these are the few strategies that I follow to get there —
Talk to customers
This is the step where you gather most of your learnings to shape your product. Some of your assumptions might turn out wrong.
But, you will understand who exactly will use your product and why.
You will understand the biggest pain points and how you can solve them. If you do this well, you will know who your first 100 potential customers are going to be.
And all of this will help you understand what product features you need to prioritise.
Before building Marsplay, we scheduled meetings with over 50 fashion bloggers and people who were frequent online shoppers. Our most insightful and the best learnings came from those conversations.
For example, we learnt which shopping platforms were most widely used through talking to people and integrated them in our APL. We might have ended up choosing the wrong platforms had we just gone our way without any user research.
Build audience before launch
A lot of people think that they can only start talking to people once they have the first version of product in hand. But my thinking is quite the opposite.
Once you know you are building something people want, it’s time to start building audience and getting to those first 100 customers.
Building audience is all about relationship building — engage with them and make them a part of your community.
You can do this through events, collaborations, etc so that they become the first people to spread the word about you once you launch and also to give you honest feedback about the product.
At Marsplay, we launched a Creator Studio and made it accessible to our community for free. This simple step helped us create connection with over 100 fashion bloggers in two months.
Iterate with your community
I can not emphasise enough on the importance of this. While building Toymail, through user feedback, we got to know that people want more than just sending voice messages
They wanted access to features that let them have fun and they were not getting that experience! So, we launched Toymail Cloud that gave them access to multiple apps that were entertaining and fun.
Other thing we discovered was that there was a lack of trust around storing voice messages. A lot of hacking happened during that time around voice messaging of kids toys.
To build trust, we launched a customer reviews page where we curated a lot of customer reviews. And, that worked like a charm!
Provide Unique Value to your users
You need to give something to your customers that no one else does. Or in a way that no one does. That will be your delta WOW. That’s what people will remember about you.
Otherwise, you will be lost in all the noise.
The best example for this is HQ Trivia. They introduced a unique feature called Cameo that went even one step beyond live broadcasting. It allowed the audience to actually participate in the process.
That was unprecedented. That was their ‘WOW’ factor. Unsurprisingly, their biggest growth channel became word of mouth and in 3 days it had set a record of 1.2 million concurrent players!
The unique value doesn’t always have to a mind-blowing feature. For you it could be an amazing humanised on-boarding experience that makes your users feel special. Or it could be the content you seed your platform with.
For instance, we spent two months created high quality meaningful content for our app so that when users first come to the app, they see how all the best fashion bloggers are regularly using the app and sharing useful content!
Launch your critical feature as a by-product
Launching your critical feature as a by-product allows you to iterate as you learn from your mistakes without having to depend completely on its success for the survival of your product.
This is what we did at Marsplay. Our APL was our critical feature but we ensured that our app was a complete product in itself. Even if our APL didn’t work upto our expectations for some reason (which it didn’t), we would still have a playground to test the feature.
This helped us immensely. Through our app, we were able to gather content from our users on the app. That helped us build huge database which helped in experimenting and improvising our APL tool.
Had we launched it as a stand-alone product we wouldn’t have had the freedom to re-build it various times till we were satisfied with the final product that would ‘wow’ our users.
While building great products always takes immense time and patience, knowing that the end goal is to delight users ensures that we take steps in that direction. Ultimately, it’s the people that we are building our product for. Hence, we are always striving to increase the ‘delta wow’.
And as Steve always said