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User experiences and outcomes for a better product design

Product managers begin a product design journey with the usual suspects like a market need and a set of features. And once product management has a well laid out list of product features backed by that all awesome architecture and tech stack, it ends up in defense of what was painstakingly created, almost through it’s entire life cycle.

While this may have worked in a period of restricted access and fewer options, the approach to product design definitely needs a re look in an age of increasing options and decreasing attention span. Once a use case opportunity is identified, it is probably a good time to sit down offline and work with the final set of user experiences across each role that a product intends to invite a user to, and then a list of outcomes that match those experiences.  Together they may provide a better user activation probability and therefore a more predictable product ROI for sponsors.

Here’s a simple to do guide to get started:

1. List the user roles.  Typically, a new age digital system has 3 broad categories.  The engaged, The people who manage the engagement, and the sponsors who expect a certain outcome.

2.  Ask what each user would expect as an experience from the product. Experiences are typically identified as motivators for a user role to keep coming back to the product as it would have a clear benefit or reward for participation and adoption. A good exercise would reveal the trade offs, benefits, rewards and exceptions.

3. Outcomes are about how the users find a quantifiable experience at the end of a participation cycle or a usage session.  These outcomes can be listed for each individual session, or a collective set of sessions leading to a more aggregated outcome.

4. Refine the outcomes list by verifying them against role motives that have the risk of blocking participation and collaborative engagement. Interviewing similar user roles in their current contexts can provide great insights.

5. Prepare a final list of experiences and outcomes that the product can deliver in it’s most sophisticated avatar. Work backwards to a product road map that delivers the intent and the promise in it’s initial release, more than the features that would follow.

The approach looks deceivingly simple, but as you may realize, requires a highly participative and iterative approach before you set yourself on the way to create a great product. Try this out the next time you have that idea and see what shows up on your paper, or a whiteboard, or even your wall if no one’s complaining….

Posted by Mahendra Penumathsa on Aug 26