2 min read
Saksham Mendiratta
A Prototype Isn't Enough

Product companies trying to perfect their prototype, you might still not be perfect.


China’s firing missiles. India’s weightlifting at the CWG. Dalal Street is picking back up. What have you been upto?

I hope your growth strategies are performing better than Ferrari’s effort to win a championship.

It’s the beginning of the festive season in India and every consumer business I know is preparing for the festive half of this year. And it’s going to be big.

There are exciting things planned in here too. I’m finally changing the format of my newsletters. Launching the biggest edition of the year next Sunday. Watch out for the changes.

If you are wondering how and why this one came into your inbox, you’ve either signed up recently or someone has added you to it. In either case, you’ll have a blast in here. I write once every 2 weeks and these newsletters are read by some of the fastest growing consumer businesses. No ads in here.


Now, on to the crux of this one:

I’ve taken a chapter from Tony Fadell’s ‘Build’ and extrapolated it to what it means for consumer-tech businesses.

As humans, we are wired to pay attention to the tangibles in our life. Everything that can be seen, used, touched, felt gets noticed more aggressively than the intangibles. The intangibles being moments, experiences, feelings.

The moment you hold your phone to order in food or when you browse through a website trying to find clothes that fit you, they’re all tangible. But the little nuances of daily life: the doorbell ringing in the middle of the day, the smell of your house, just walking from one room to another or just sitting in your car on a traffic signal, these are all intangible things. They are felt, but not noticed every time.

BUT, if you’ve had a delightful or a bad ‘experience’, you remember it. It’s something you want to either recreate or just simply avoid the next time.

Subconsciously, some products also make it to our intangible experiences. And these are the ones that succeed far more than the purely tangible ones.

The crux here is: don't just make a prototype of your product that people can experience when they use it, map out the entire journey for them. Right from the time they discover the concept of your product till the time they talk to your after sales representative or just want to delete the app altogether or simply return your product. Because every step of the way is an opportunity to build an experience around tangebelising the intangible.

Your product isn't just your product. It’s the whole user experience: a chain that begins when someone learns about your brand for the first time and ends when the product is no longer in their life, returned or deleted.

Let's dive a bit deeper.

  • 10% of your customer’s experience comes from when they discover the product: either on your website or some piece of advertising or through a referral via a friend.
  • 10% comes when they ‘decide’ to buy or install it.
  • 10% comes in when they actually hold or experience the product for the first time. Some may call this ‘on boarding’
  • 40% is the actual use of the tangible aspects of the product that most teams solely focus on: your website or your application experience.
  • 10% is actually when they realise that your product doesn't solve for certain things they wished it did. That’s when you launch an upgrade for them.
  • 10% is when they actually want to delete it or unsubscribe from it or simply return it. And in some cases, talk to you: the company or brand who’s built it.
  • And the last 10% is when they feel the need to evangelise it or refer it to a friend.

The percentages above may be intuitively summed up, but the experience they go through every step of the way is absolutely critical. We’ll go even deeper today.

Through each and every step, one would constantly think:

  • Why should I buy it?
  • Why should I wait for an upgrade?
  • Why should I go back to my size?
  • Why should I stick with it?
  • Why should I wait for a drop?
  • Why should I refer?

There’s so much noise around. So many brands to pick from. So many offers. But very little experience. That’s your cue. You build a whole experience around each of these questions that a customer may have in their mind. If you can preempt the answer to each of these, you save them the energy and cognition to make decisions. You instead give it to them on a platter and that’s when they choose your product.

To get it right, you MUST prototype the WHOLE experience of your customer’s journey:

  • Draw pictures, sketch used cases, pin mood boards. Do everything that you would want them to experience within the product.
  • Write imaginary press releases. Or ad copies. And design images for your marketing collateral. And see if they help you solve for what you stand for.
  • Write a review of your products that you finally want them to write. It should stack up to what you want the most evangelised out of your product.
  • Script your after sales call. Or even your pre-sales call in some cases. Make it more humane and less robotic. Go personal.
  • Write down the first few emails that they would receive in their inbox. Or the message you’d want them to read on their whatsapp when they first hear from you.
  • Evaluate if you’re being supportive, intrusive or persuasive in your communication. Pin down the emotion you want them to feel when they hear or use your product.
  • And finally, go down to the very last bit of WHO your customer is: if he’s a man or a woman. And what is their lifestyle? And their life choices. And why and when do you fit into their life. And at what point would they decide to interact with you and your brand? Map this whole journey out. Exactly the way you’d want them to. This is the beginning of your on-boarding.

Get things out of your head and on to a piece of paper or an application you use to prototype. But prototype the whole experience and not just your tangible product.

Sometimes, just sometimes, your merch or free add ons play a significant role in a customer’s life. 

  • The way you market your new product drop.
  • The insert you add to your package that helps them assemble the product or just instructions to use it effectively.
  • The coffee mug you give away with your coffee.
  • The after-sales service asking if the size of the shirt they bought actually fits them.

It’s like this newsletter you receive on Sundays from me. I don't have to do this, but every time I ask for feedback, the one thing I get is: quality and recall. And that’s what I started this for. Every Sunday you receive this, there's a recall for who I am even if it’s not what I do. And that’s my touchpoint with you.

You get the drift.


Adding in a new section in my newsletter from this one. I’m bringing back the format of hits & misses but in the form of upgrades. These are products or websites that I’ve personally used and feel there’s a massive scope for improvement. And for some reason it’s not visible. 

  • Licious: The business model is fabulous. Love what the product is solving and I’m an avid user. But the experience of using the application is just dreadful for me. Wish there was a better way to order using their native app.
  • Food Darzee: Recently tried this app and the model of food subscriptions in Bangalore. They made me get on to a new form of food tracking which is commendable. Highly efficient model, but the application experience was once again short of what I’d want to even recommend.

I absolutely love solving products which add to convenience in daily life. If you know the founders or product heads in here, get me connected with them and coffee’s on me for this intro :)

For now, that’s it from me. 

With gratitude,