What is the methodology to achieve UX design and give your innovation maximum chance of success?
Obviously, innovation is the key to growth. Especially in the period, we are experiencing which is bringing with it the complete digitization of society.
Every day new ideas for innovative products see the light of day.
However, the snag comes at the time these products are adopted. In fact 68% of innovative projects fail because of poor market characterization.
And it isn’t difficult to see: just look at your smartphone for a moment and see how many new apps you actually use every day. I bet you can’t mention 5 of them (of course excluding social networks).
When we want to develop a new product or concept, we have to deal with this issue. Rolled out using an inappropriate method, even the best ideas will have little chance of success. Indeed, the quality of the product itself is only secondary compared to its ability to respond to the aspirations of its market.
If you develop a product that doesn’t improve your customers’ lives, no matter how well produced it may be, they won’t adopt it and will definitely not buy it. The proof is the number of new apps installed on your smartphone in the last 5 months that you actually use.
So how can you ensure your product will meet a real need?
How do you identify, validate, and integrate this need into your project?
I’m going to talk to you about a process I use every day – it is people-centered and based on the UX approach. It breaks down into 5 steps that will help you reduce the uncertainty associated with product adoption.
You just have to accept that this process requires you to ask the right questions, even if these questions sometimes challenge you or make you feel like you’re taking a step backward.
Let’s put your beautiful specifications aside for a moment and start by getting to know each other.
As a first step, let’s not try to understand the product you want to create but rather you, your brand identity, your area of activity and your positioning. The goal here is to understand the reach of your offer internally by meeting all the people impacted, the added value you would like to bring, and share with you your vision of success, what you want to achieve by producing this innovative product.
This mutual understanding and the shared vision of an attractive future can be achieved through the « cover story » workshop. Involving all the stakeholders we will use just a few words, create an inspiring magazine cover for your offer. By encouraging creativity we will generate collective energy and a powerful team dynamic right from the outset. This vision will then take the form of a document that will serve as a reference for all the later product decisions, thereby limiting the risks of drifting off track: the product vision.
Now we’ve got to know one another, let’s spend a moment talking about your market or more precisely the customer segment you want to address with your value proposition. « The general public », « everyone » – if these are the answers that immediately spring to mind, it indicates that your market characterization is not sufficiently detailed. If you decide to develop your product under these conditions – thinking that everyone is your customer – you will inevitably waste resources by talking to everyone and will miss your product’s actual potential user profiles.
Ultimately you will greatly increase the chances of finding yourself among the 68% of failures. Taking the time to understand your customer segment and the key factors that will make people want to become and remain your customers through your value proposition is an investment that will allow you to quickly and cost-effectively assess the potential of your innovation. It’s better to invest a little at this stage rather than lose a lot by launching a product that won’t find its target audience.
Having explored your segment, we will determine the user scenarios likely to quickly generate popularity. It will then be a question of repositioning on the basis of your business goals.
Fitting the reality of both worlds is vital to this process because only considering your business goals is a high-risk approach. Indeed, promoting the development of your business at the expense of the customer experience will offer a competitor the opportunity to occupy a more effective position by taking the idea and developing it with consideration for customer aspirations.
Uber is a good example of a company that has exploited this type of opportunity. They identified a stagnant market where customer expectations were not being served.
They designed and supplied an offer that quickly and globally proved its success by focusing on areas where they could improve people’s experience (finding a vehicle, ease of payment, information about the availability vehicles nearby, etc.).
But to be clear neither is the goal to fulfill your customers’ aspirations at the expense of your business goals – the goal is to find the right balance. Start by defining your MVP (Minimum Viable Product): these are the minimum essential features that will allow you to meet your customers’ high criticality aspirations while also achieving a compatible business goal.
Now we have an idea about the content of our MVP, the essential features that will make the solution viable, we’re ready to start on development.
In fact not – far from it.
Because even if we have an idea about the content of the MVP, we have to find out how it can satisfactorily present these features to your customers.
You don’t have to be a graphic design expert or even know how to draw but simply suggest to a target sample that they participate in a stimulating creativity workshop.
That’s what we’re going to accomplish at this stage; it’s the prototyping phase. Creating prototypes in this way will enable you to quickly learn from customer reactions and feedback, test innovative ideas at a little cost and arrive at the most appropriate form while also limiting risk and investment.
The first Dropbox prototype is a good example:
To understand users’ perceptions of the solution they were proposing, they made a video describing the main use scenario. I’ll let you watch the video. It’s been made on the basis of simple paper drawings.
I think this video is particularly effective because it provides a perfect demonstration of the product without creating the product itself.
Now we have a prototype made viable by customers and ready to be developed.
However, it is essential to technically prepare this phase. Preparation involves the design of the architecture and all the technical building blocks, and the appropriate technological choices that will support and fit in with future developments. The aim of the architecture will also be to support your vision in the long term. In fact, in addition to responding effectively to your customer’s requests, it will be an information system that allows you to make informed strategic choices while allowing for flexible development possibilities when making product decisions.
By the end of this 5 stage UX process you have:
- A solid vision of success shared by everyone
- A prototype prepared not on the basis of your personal experience but on your market / your target
- All the technical and technological building blocks to start development
- and above all, you have an extremely clear vision of your project.
There’s no “just”.
So you ask me, why is the UX process not more widespread?
I usually recommend this approach to all my customers because, as you now see, from my point of view it’s fundamental to the success of an innovation.
But although it’s a sexy approach on paper, it meets with resistance in many companies that want to innovate.
I have found that for the most part people are initially very reluctant. They are certain they’ve thought of everything, they’re the experts in their product. They don’t see the value in investing time and money upstream of the project to find out about things they think they already know.
Except that in life everything comes down to point of view, and that’s what they need to realize.
In general, I therefore, suggest a co-design workshop – phase 1 of our UX process. As it’s very short and not a major financial commitment, more often than not they agree; and the workshop sets everything else in motion.
The various actors realize they don’t have all the answers. During the workshop, everyone forgets who they are and what their position in the company is by putting themselves in the customer’s shoes. By putting the end customer center-stage, we can go back to square one and start from the beginning: get everyone in agreement on the project, give a common shared vision of its goal.
The other steps then follow each other more smoothly and logically.
I haven’t yet met a company that, at the end, wasn’t pleased to have done it.