User Centric Solution Design

User Centric Solution Design

I have a lot of conversations with people about user centric design and balancing ease of use and features in solutions. From my experiences the average product or solution manager and development team need to focus more on the end to end user experience, but many are overly focused on features and stuck in iterative feature creep. This can be an issue with any level of maturity product offering.

What I mean by this is that it is far too easy to focus on features and tasks. For the average person using the product the actual task level features are only the tip of the iceberg of the way they perceive value of the product offering. Ease of learning the product, ease of using the product and operational analytics about how the product is really working for their user scenarios are just as important and often more important.

For example, how much time has your team talked about the following questions-

1. Who is the primary user, secondary user?

2. What are the ranked daily/weekly user scenarios and tasks that make up 80% or more of the product usage.

3. How long does it take for the average user to start using the product productively? Can this be done in under 60 minutes? 5 minutes?

4. Does starting to use the product require direct assistance for someone at your company (e.g. consulting, development, etc)? Is this a short term solution or long term?

5. Can the product be adopted (or purchased) directly or does it require IT (or a sales force) due to complexity of product, pricing, etc?

6. How does the user know the product is working? How do you visualize operational data to support the the priority user scenarios?

7. What is the adoption (or pricing if a charged for solution) strategy? Is this a product that can work with tiers, freemium, trials? What is the conversion strategy from try to buy? What is the quantitative data to prove the value of the product?

In addition it goes without saying that product managers have to be talking to users/customers all the time so they know the market, competition and opportunities that exist. Being able to step back from features to discuss how real users experience using the product is a critical capability for successful product managers and the development teams they lead.

The earth is not flat … but the image is a reminder that sometimes reality is all about the perspective.