Produktionize (Disco Remix).mp3
Clashing together perspectives, styles and frameworks to give Product a fresh, yet familiar sound.
Let’s rewind two decades to 2002. It wasn’t a great fashion year for me - it was all Lonsdale vests and Le Coq Sportif three quarter lengths from Sports Direct. Despite the tragedy that was my outfit collection, I’d argue it was one of the greatest years for music progression.
Whilst the Billboard was topped with pop giants such as Nickelback and Nelly (dropping bangers that made my legs jelly), there was an undercurrent of experimental artists that grew in confidence to mix sounds of old and new.
DJ Sammy did this, slicing a segment of the 80’s hit “Heaven” by Brian Adams, and regenerating it into the mammoth of a floor filler we know and love today.
In a similar fashion, the Product world is riddled with content, guidelines and frameworks that have been old favourites. But could we take our craft further by combining it with things not so familiar?
Today, let’s talk about mixing things to guide us on our quest for user ecstasy.
No matter what I do, all I think about is you
We care about customer needs more than anything, right? But often we discover these periodically, sometimes almost entirely in the greenfield stages of the product life cycle.
Customer needs become an input into our committed OKRs, and once those have been manifested, we take our Google Sheet as gospel. Our pulse on whether we’re doing right by our users is reduced to staring at frozen rows and conditionally formatted cells.
But it’s been 40 weeks since you released your product to the market, and you’re now looking at column AW, and thinking to yourself: what do users want?
Not even Mel Gibson can answer that question.
Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?
- Avril Lavigne
This was a problem for a client I worked with who wanted to understand whether their existing customers still wanted the same thing since way back when, and if so, how well those needs were being met.
Tell me what you want, what you really really want
Just like Black Friday at Walmart, the team burst into the problem space, fanning out and running multiple research methods simultaneously. Here’s some of the stuff we did, and a note on why it was useful:
Customer interviews: Not just hearing what your users say, but observing the emotional highs and lows when recounting their experiences were invaluable.
SME interviews: Talking to a cohort of experts internally gave us good context on why things were the way they were, what was coming, and everything in between.
Survey reviews: What upset or delighted customers so much they had to write it down. It gave really good clues to continue our investigation through the other methods.
Competitor Analysis: It’s not stealing, it’s inspiration. What would the market define as good, bad and ugly.
Web analytics: Shortcut to sizing the biggest holes in the funnel and quantifying the emerging trends we were uncovering.
Experience Audit: Spending time really getting familiar with the site ourselves gave us a first person perspective on the good bits, and the not so good bits.
Unmoderated testing: This was helpful for validating some of the emerging hypotheses coming out of the other methodologies.
Running in parallel, then sharing and digesting with the team frequently led to an almost perfect synthesis of insights onto a mega Experience Map. Through this exercise, we were able to derive the core jobs that users wanted to complete, and under each a collection of the most powerful data points and insights from across our research.
So we now had a list of what users wanted, and a bank of data and insights on the highs and lows of each need, but how would we create a standardised score and still keep it meaningful?
Zoom zoom zoom zoom, I want you in my room
We tossed and turned between frameworks and ideas like you would do sleeping on a waterbed mattress. But then, in a magical moment that involved a booth, A4 paper and scribbles, the team decided to clash two ancient artefacts together: Our experience map, and the UX pyramid framework.
Extreme rays of blinding lights started splitting through from the cracks and, like the fervid eyes of X-men's Cyclops, ripped through our office, cutting walls and scorching colleagues’ eyebrows.
FYI, The UX pyramid (fig 1.1) parallels Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s used first and foremost for challenging the way a product is designed, laddering up from the core functional characteristics of design to those that evoke more visceral responses from users - like when your local barista remembers your name and order.
The general rule of thumb here is, if you don’t do the bottom three well, which you could call the brilliant basics, there’s no way in which you’ll achieve the higher, more pleasurable experiences. Talking about coffee again, don’t think too much about the latte art if your cups have holes in them.
Cutting a rug? More like cutting a RAG!
This beautiful triangle gave us a way to work through our needs, using the prompts below to scalp through our miro and give judgement to whether each layer was Red, Amber or Green.
Does it do what it says it’s going to do?
Not yet, your appointment booking service doesn’t load. Functional = Red.
Is it available and accurate?
Info is there, but all your sales channels are saying different things about refund policy, and 40% of your survey responses are complaining about it. Reliable = Amber
Can it be used without difficulty?
Your pop-ups get in the way of the Call to action. Not great. Usability = Amber
So on, so forth.
Each of our needs were then able to be categorised into: Not served, underserved, served, exceeding expectations, and set us up for generating hypotheses, experiments and prioritising actions. Beautiful.
Wait for the drop…
This article is all about testing our craft, experimenting, giving things that have a good chance of failing a try.
We are pioneers, adventurers. We draw from established patterns that smart people have suggested, but we are not bound by them.
Product is desperately in need of more artists. Get mixing. Get mastering.
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