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Rolling on to the crux of this one:
In my experience of working with multiple businesses, we often have differences of opinions. And I feel that’s healthy. But one thing that’s come up time and again is ‘the process’ of execution’. I’m not one who believes in painkillers to solve challenges. I’d rather give you vitamins to build more resilience. Something that strengthens the foundation. And with that, you shouldn't need expert teams like us every 6 months. We come in once every 2-3 years as trends evolve.
So here’s for that founder or product head who feels intuition sits at the heart of design. Or maybe someone who believes in mindless iterations to build experiences. This one’s your answer.
So it’s no surprise that I run a product studio. It’s a service driven business and because we work with evolved brands (basically brands that have decent traction), there’s a lot of baggage to tackle. The baggage of customer experience is a relatively easier one because it's data driven, but the baggage of mindset is what I fear the most.
So here’s a line-up of what an ideal process of redesigning / re-building or even a new product launch looks like. You could use this for new product ideas or just rebuilding your experience.
We will use the example of a fictitious brand to understand the nuances of the process: Let's call this brand “Exit’. Exit is a consumer focussed brand with presence across web & application. It has seen great traction in the past few months but that’s largely thanks to ad spends. So TOFU (top of the funnel) and PMF (product-market-fit) are on point.
if you are testing a new product idea, you enter this process after you’ve achieved a product-market fit with a base level research of your customer, product and its features.
That’s where most businesses come to us - Great TOFU. Average MOFU (Middle of the funnel) and a crippling BOFU (bottom of the funnel). It means one of 3 or all 3 in some cases:
- Great traction, poor conversion
- Great conversion, poor retention
- Great retention, but no community (recall → evangelism)
With such a large flexible range financially, there’s room for all kinds of brands to come and shoot their shot at product placement.
Your definition of success evolves with time. And so do the metrics you track as a business and the funnel. The TOFU, MOFU and BOFU mean different things for different life cycles & sectors. But the solutions to their challenges are often similar. Here’s my 9 Step Formula for Product Redesign: (It’s tried, tested and super effective)
Now this is a vast canvas and you could go down a rabbit hole if not moderated well. I suggest 3 phases to research:
a) Understanding Current Landscape: What’s worked so far + why. You have the gift of data. It’s lethal to not use it to your advantage. And yes, rarely does data lie. So I’d place 75% weightage to data and 25% to intuition, unless you are building an outlier business.
b) Current Landscape + Customer Interactions: Talking to 3 loyalists and 3 customers who didn’t convert is a good enough starting point. Could you go beyond and stretch this number to 300, sure, if you have the time & monetary bandwidth to explore.
c) Competitor Landscape: Here’s where you look out for what others in your + complementary sectors are doing with their feature stacks. List them down and collate a list of what the new product vision could look like.
Stakeholder Conversations: This can come in various shapes & sizes but I’ll stick to the primitive one: a vision board. This should be done by all key decision makers / influencers across the company. A few questions that can help get articulate answers:
Why did you start with this product?
What do you see will bring you happiness in 3 years from now / ultimate goal?
What products / features do you look upto?
What’s the primary driver of business success / benchmark / monetisation model?
What do you not what to be? Why?
These are good starting points that open new directions of conversations every time and can be extrapolated across a solid product roadmap.
The possibility of multiple directions is very much on the cards. That’s where we add weights to each answer and set their level of priority in the business design process. It helps us stay on track and stray away.
What you did in Step 1 and Step 2 could showcase distinctive results. What your customers think of you vs what you think of yourself could be despair. But that’s a great starting point. It validates the need for you to enter into this whole exercise altogether.
Brand Repositioning: Here’s where you add in the marketing team to build a sharper brand positioning & design aesthetics for your brand. The cohesion between design & marketing is extremely important and as much as I’m focussing on the design side of the process, it's as important to keep validating touch points of marketing through the process: copy, tone, identity and consistency.
This is where everyone involved in this exercise comes together. It’s best done physically on a white board but can also be managed virtually using tools like Miro or FigJam.
Here’s where on one side you list down everything that you’ve identified from Step 1. And use the other side to list down everything that you’ve identified from Step 2. And let everyone play around with what’s most important for the business.
Exit could have multiple directions. It’s important to decide where it should head based on the vision. You could land across 3 scenarios here:
Scenario 1: Customers & Stakeholders think 180 degrees apart. That means the need to re-position / re-brand & re-design is the highest. A company wide exercise of this nature should be embarked upon.
This means: Your vision of the business is far away from what it’s perception is, in the minds of its customers.
Scenario 2: The variation between what customers think vs what stakeholders think, is an obtuse angle. It’s not diametrically opposite, but still far away.
This means: you have traction but not conversion / retention. And the UX is what is largely at fault (in most cases). Of Course a better design cover would be an add on.
Scenario 3: The variation between what customers think vs what stakeholders think is an acute angle. The gap exists, but it’s minimal. It means your strategy is in the right direction. You could have loftier visions for the product (say you wish to introduce your own ecommerce or AI engines within the application) and that’s perfectly fine. At Least there’s validation of the current run from customers.
This means: you need to optimise the existing UX basis customer feedback and build new feature stacks that encompass your vision.
Product Roadmap: After a bunch of figuring and learning and brainstorming, it’s now time to firm up on the product roadmap. Based on the scenario you’ve stumbled upon above, this could be an all new roadmap or just an enhancement over the current one. But I suggest using an all new approach / outlook to chart out the product roadmap. This is best done in alignment with the product / design teams.
It’s within the product roadmap that we define ideal personas, target customers, feature stacks and even the monetisation model.
This is the ultimate step of UX and should be given enough attention. My challenge is that most businesses wish to start their redesign process from this step. And that’s a trap. If you’re spending time and money to redesign your product or even enhance your product, it’s wiser to follow a certain process than just be consumed by intuition on the road ahead.
Wireframes would help cement your flow, clicks, scrolls, journeys and everything that makes the product / platform experience centric.
An important step of the way is to create your wireframes (high-fidelity) and test them out with a new set of users (avoid the same set of users from Set 1 to avoid any biases). And repeat optimisation until you bridge gaps.
Design Explorations: This is something that can begin in parallel with either of the steps above. Based on guidelines on identity for the brand, it’s best to explore various design directions. This is where you test your gradients, your colors, highlights, buttons and so on. Basically everything that you need in a design system and start firming up on them.
User Interface Design: Step 6 & 7 converge to create your own unique UI. This is where you start to see the new product shape up.
A detailed set of documents (including videos & animations) on interactions, flows, design systems and everything that the development team would need is what a development handover document would comprise of.
I’ll stop right here on this one because development is one beast to tackle in itself. Also, I’ve only hinted upon the interactions between marketing & design. Ideally, it could be more cohesive.
If you have a topic that I should write about or any feedback for my writing, I <3 feedback.
Until next time,