How to use Product Thinking in UX Design
The original premise behind user experience which is often understated is the fact that lies in its namesake itself- to make the user’s experience with any product better. Product designing is an intricate and complicated process where the designer could get lost in a coded web and in all the ruckus it is easy to ignore the user’s needs. Designers can hardly be blamed for doing so because every product has a fundamental purpose it tries to serve which defines its existence.
The features of a product are hardly of any consequence if they don’t satisfy individualized needs and goals. This redundancy factor is what prompts a need for more comprehensive strategies like product thinking.
What is Product Thinking?
To put it in simple terms product thinking is a strategy where the product is the sum of all the users’ expectations. Here the users are the instigating factor and the product becomes the end result. The common pattern followed with product thinking is as follows:
Start with the user
- What is the problem your product would seek to address?
- What is the target audience?
The Job at Hand
- The idea behind it?
- How would you go about executing it?
- The goals you seek to achieve.
- The resultant features that come out of the aforementioned efforts that would go into your product.
Product before Features
A common flaw when it comes to designing is the amount of emphasis that designers put into features. While features are important, for most designers building a product means creating a preset of features that will eventually define it. This is where they lose touch with what the user actually needs. With product thinking, the idea is to visualize the product during inception as it will be presented to the users. The features are then added in to complement that idea and build the ideal product.
Defining the Product and its Purpose
The level at which user experience is today, understanding the user is not that much of a task. With such valuable resources at their disposal designers get a clear picture of their target audience, their issues, the vision behind the product and its end goals. However, this part is easier said than done because when it comes to users their problems are often latent and it is up to UX professionals to uncover them.
Once designers comprehend the purpose why people would purchase their product in the real world, they can create a rough idea of what the product would be like, what it would mean to them and what ends it would serve. Once this core aspect of the product is laid down, the features will automatically fall in place and the designers can tweak them in any way that would ultimately enhance the user experience.
Problem vs Solution
For a designer, there are many ways to go about solving problems with a product but understanding the heart of that problem is what sets the bar for innovation. Many see problems as a prosaic concept where consequence translates to causation. But, in the real world problems with a product can be anything. In some cases, things that are seemingly negligible could be causing people to walk away from your product.
The complication here is that people themselves seldom realize this fact. The users know that they don’t like the product, but they can’t explain why. So designers have to delve deep into the psyche of the users to understand the problem and fix the product and its features.
Product thinking in its essence is the combined effort of everyone involved in a project. It is as abstract as a concept as to implementing it. Yet without it, a design is nothing more than just a UI. The layers of research from both the product management and designing point of view leave little room for doubt when it comes to users.