The Product Design Process

Market & Customer Awareness

Paul Boag

Paul Boag

The Product Design Process

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The "Market & Customer Awareness" Lesson is part of the full, The Product Design Process course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Paul discusses the principles of product design and emphasizes the importance of understanding market awareness, competition, market trends, and positioning. He also highlights the need to be user-centric, understanding users' goals, pain points, and needs. Additionally, he discusses the importance of being task-oriented and understanding the hierarchy of tasks and functionality in order to help users achieve their goals.


Transcript from the "Market & Customer Awareness" Lesson

>> Let's talk about some of the principles, so what does product design encapsulate? And there are gonna be a lot of things on this list that you're gonna go, well, that's not design, right? But it is, a lot of the things that you need to be aware of and you need to understand and are core principles of product design, are not things that you would maybe associate with design, but are incredibly valuable to learn.

And I'll just go off in a minor rant before I get into this list. One of the big problems that I have with people today who work in design, is they spend so much time learning about design. [LAUGH] I know that sounds ridiculous. They spend so much time learning about the latest technique or the latest plugin, or the latest bit of software, or whether this year, it's skeuomorphic or new skeuomorphic, or not skeuomorphic, or whether all of these trends and stuff but trends come and go.

What you really need if you wanna become an amazing product designer, you need to look at psychology, marketing, business, these kinds of areas are just as important to be aware of. And so as we go through these list of principles, you'll see that come out, that these are the kinds of things you need to be paying attention to if you want to get good at product design.

And the first is market awareness, right? Knowing what's going on in the market that you're working within is incredibly important, so who are your competitors, right? Who else is operating in the marketplace? What did they do well? What do they do poorly? How do they price? All of these things are worth understanding as a product designer, right?

If they're doing something well, copy it, [LAUGH] right? If they're doing something badly, improve upon it. But also, if you wanna get people to migrate from your competitors to you, then it's worth having similarities in the way that it works. So to reduce the amount of procedural knowledge or increase the amount of procedural knowledge, they can transfer across.

So being aware of the competition is really important, but then also you wanna be aware of the market trends, what's happening in the market? How are users expectations changing is a big one. And you see this is how people disrupt a market, right, and come into an area.

Banking is a huge one. I don't whether it is over here, but certainly, in the UK, all of the major high street banks have been majorly replaced by new up and coming banks who went, well, everybody just wants to bank on their phone. So they created a mobile-first user experience, product design-orientated approach to banking, and they've swept and dominated the market, right?

So knowing how users' expectations are changing, what dynamics are going in the market, helps you to understand your role as a product designer and where you need to place the emphasis in the work that you're doing. And then there's positioning, right, what differentiates your product from your competitors?

How clear is that difference to people? And when you get into the app, are they instantly gonna go, well, this is just better? Are they gonna see those killer apps, those killer features up front? So being aware of that market is a hugely important aspect or marketing. That's a dirty thing that marketers do, right?

But you can't have that attitude if you wanna be working in product design, you've obviously gotta be user centric, right? That almost needs to go without saying, but I've included it anyway because it would be really bad not to say it. So in particular, we need to be hyper aware of what users' goals are.

What does our web app allow people to do? What does it allow them to achieve? Not what functionality has it got, but how does it help in their lives, right? So for example, a banking app, yeah, it lets you check your balances and it lets you, no, no, those are features, right?

That's your deposit checks, now that's a feature. How does it help? It helps people be in control of their money. Having a kinda picture of that overall goal of what people are wanting from your app, how it's gonna make their lives better is so essential, and keeping that in your mind the whole time.

I mean, to be honest, that's kinda helpful in any UX design, but it's particularly prominent when you're talking about products. Pain points as well. What problem or pain point is your app helping you to solve? And then finally, needs. This is a big question. Is there a legitimate need for the product that you're working on and the functionality you're creating?

The number of features that I've seen created just because, well, the competition have them, right? That is such a terrible reason to create a new piece of functionality, cuz it makes the assumption that they know what they're doing over there which they probably don't. Or where, yeah, I had this great idea, that's the other one that I absolutely love.

Yeah, some senior manager comes along and says, I've had this great idea, but that's not a reason to implement it just because you think it's a great idea. So being aware of real users needs is obviously crucial. So it's about being user-centric as well, but it's also about having an awareness of your different user groups and their role, right?

Cuz different groups will have different objectives. So take something like task app, right? A task app can be a used by a huge number of different people in all kinds of different ways, right? As a business executive, I might use a task app to organize my tasks and my overview of what's going on.

If I'm a project manager, I might have hundreds of tasks organized into complex projects and that kinda stuff. If I'm a stay-at-home mum, I might use my task list for groceries and things like that. It's a huge range of different groups that could be using an individual product.

And so understanding those groups and what they're trying to achieve and where they're going, and to some degree, focusing on one group over another is fundamental to the success of a product. And then there's the fact we need to be a kinda almost coming out of that comes the fact that we need to be task orientated, having a clear picture and understanding of what tasks the user needs to complete.

And that will vary quite massively depending on the user group, right? So as a project manager, I'm gonna want nested projects, I'm gonna want reoccurring tasks, I'm gonna want all kinds of functionality that the stay at home mom probably doesn't want. But on the other hand, she would love it if her task list of groceries was automatically organized via aisle in the supermarket, which now, actually, Apple does in their reminder list apparently.

I've never tried it cuz obviously, I'm not that organized in my grocery shopping. But understanding the needs there, and how the tasks will help them complete that need is really important, and what tasks are more crucial to success than others? Not all tasks are equal, right? Figma, I'm using auto layout and create auto layout, hundreds of times a day, but something like outline text, can't say I use that that much, right?

So not everything is equal and understanding that hierarchy of what's important to users and what's not is crucial to success. And it's not which ones are most crucial, it's also which ones you use the most. There's a subtle difference there, isn't there? So for example, actually, that one that I just gave, you could argue, no, auto layout is more important than outline text, I'm sticking to that, right?

But it might be that there is a thing that I use all the time within an application that although use all the time, it wouldn't be the end of the world wouldn't stop me completing my task if it wasn't there. So there's lots of nuances here that you need to kinda juggle in your head.

And then of course, there's functionality, you need to think about functionality. What functionality will be required in order to allow users to achieve their goals and to address their pain points? So you've got goals and pain points, and then tasks that they wanna do to help them achieve their goal, and then we need functionality that enables them to act on those tasks, so it's like a hierarchy.

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