Why Product Thinking is the next big thing in UX Design
When thinking of User Experience, we often think of a simple, beautiful, and easy to use feature-set of a product, that makes the user’s life easier. But as a matter of fact, features are merely a small, fragile part of the product. They are only a few of many thinkable solutions for a user’s problem the product tries to solve. Thinking in products means thinking in specific user’s problems, in jobs to be done, in goals, and in revenues.
Think in products, not in features
The core user experience is not a set of features; in fact, it is the job users hire the product for. Uber’s core user experience is to get a taxi easily at any time. The countdown, displaying when exactly the taxi will arrive, is a suitable feature that expands this experience. But Uber’s product works regardless of this feature. The countdown, on the other hand, cannot live without the product (the certainty to get a taxi easily at any time). There is a one-way interrelationship between feature and product: Features don’t work without the product. This is why designers should think in products first.
Uncover the jobs the product is hired for
A product has a core user experience, which is basically the reason the product exists. It fulfills a need or solves a problem people have. By that, it becomes meaningful and provides a certain value. If the problem is
„It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want“ — Steve Jobs
Clay Christensen, for instance, once tried to improve the sales of milkshakes. He tried to make them sweeter, offered them in different tastes, and slightly increased the size of the cups. Nothing worked
Think in products and build the right features for the right people
Thinking in products helps building successful features. By defining the problems the product tackles, it answers the question “why do we build this product?”. Defining the target audience “who has these problems?” and defining the solution “how are we doing this?” will give enough guidance to create a new feature. Setting up a goal will help to measure the success of this feature.
Products become meaningful when the provided solution fits the uncovered problem. This solution describes the way how a problem will be solved. Thus, the problem-solution-fit defines the core user experience of a product. The concrete features are extending this experience and support the core experience, but they cannot replace it. Interaction Design and Visual Design can make a product beautiful, easy-to-use, delightful or make it stand out in the competition, though it can’t make the product meaningful. This is why a proper problem-solution-fit is so critical for the success of a product.
The Product Definition
When thinking in products, UX designers should be able to answer the following questions first: What problem do we solve? (User problem). For whom are we doing this? (Target audience). Why are we doing this? (Vision). How are we doing this (Strategy) and what do we want to achieve? (Goals). Only then it makes sense to think about what exactly we are doing (Features).
Thinking in products makes sure designers build the right features for the right people and tackle real problems people have. It empowers to make the right decisions and is the foundation of building successful products users want. Product Thinking establishes a fruitful relationship between Product M