The number of features a product can have is unlimited. However, when working on your product, it is imperative that you select the features that are going to truly delight your customers. This process involves prioritising characteristics based on their risks and assumptions, and using this information to define the journey of managing a product.
To build a product that is both desirable and viable, it is necessary that your company understands your users. A successful product will either satisfy a need that has not yet been fulfilled in the market, or it does something that has been done before, but better or cheaper than the competition. Part of your market research involves identifying your customer demographic – who they are, what their needs are, and what they are currently able to do given the products available to them.
From researching the customer’s needs you can start to think about features for a product or specific function that allows a user to accomplish a task. For example, there may be a need to ‘share photos with family and friends’. A feature for that need could be integrating with social networking sites so customers can share their photos. Alternatively, you can build a social network for the users of your product so they can share photos in your product’s network.
A given need can be solved in multiple ways. So how will you choose the right one?
In the context of the example above, the benefits of integrating with existing social networks are:
- Sharing is easy if your customers have already signed up to the networks.
- Developing the feature is relatively quick.
- Customers have already built the network of people they would like to share photos with on existing social network sites.
The benefits of building your own social networks around your product are:
- Customers do not need to sign up to a social network they may not want to be part of.
- You can control the customer experience of sharing photos in your application.
- Customers do not need to leave your product to share photos.
- You can build privacy controls that have been specified by your customers’ needs.
Comparing the benefits and risks of each feature should help you decide on which features to keep, and which to throw away for your product specification. As you work on the product specification, you also need to think about creating a product roadmap and effectively managing communication with all stakeholders. In addition, at every stage of the roadmap you need to select metrics that allow you to measure your success and make the right decisions.