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Answer all the right questions – Part II

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The path to creating engaging digital products and services is rich with different perspectives and constant change. In this series we explore how to manage inputs from users, market research, business goals, technical planning and much more in order to create a solid product vision with good chances of success. While we must always keep track of many different factors, our road becomes smoother when we focus on the right questions for each phase.

Last week, we discussed what we concentrate on when generating new ideas and getting ready to realise them, with a special focus on the market context and relating broad business goals to the smallest details of implementation. Today, we’ll look at how best to guide our attention when our projects are released into the wild.

Are we on track?

During development, and especially when the first versions of our products go live, it is time to shift focus again. Now, we combine the business objectives with the specific functionalities we’ve built, and meticulously investigate how well they match up! We use the groundwork laid during development to gather up quantitative data and combine that with additional input from users and other stakeholders.

This phase requires fast learning and adaptation. We come in with a clear idea of what to look for (including a structured measurement plan), but we must be ready for any insight or issue that might come up. Are we seeing the indicators we expected? Are the users satisfied? What can we do to improve that? Of course, with the right research, planning and validation, we should not encounter many unexpected issues here, but it’s naturally the most exciting phase of the project for us!

What’s next?

Our work doesn’t end when the final product is delivered. In fact, the most productive projects often arise after the first version hits the market and reactions start flowing in from a wide audience.

Equipped with our analysis of performance in relation to the goals we set out at the beginning, we often return to the start of the project cycle and come up with original ideas to improve the experience. This time around, though, we have very specific information on the real-world performance among our actual target audience. Building on this information, we adjust priorities and begin a new cycle of iterative development.

Conclusion

As we discussed last week, juggling the myriad factors that go into the creation of a digital product requires that we focus on different things at different points in the development cycle. It’s crucial to make sure all the right questions are answered as the project iterates and evolves.

With this framework we see not only how to ensure that these key questions are answered, but also how answering the right question at the right time sets us up for success in subsequent phases of the project. Following a clearly defined vision helps make decisions about design and specific functionalities; when the time comes to measure our progress, we already know what to look for.