product development

rapid prototyping

Your New Favorite Prototyping Hack: Just Use Your Competitor’s App

This is a guest post by David Bailey, Entrepreneur in Residence at Downing Ventures in London. 


Before I launched my startup, 3 Kinds of Ice, I spent a couple of weeks testing my idea with potential customers, using a method called paper prototyping.

Paper prototyping is a useful DIY shortcut for testing early product concepts. Instead of building a real app first and getting it wrong, you draw out the user interface of your potential app and test the way users interact with it. It’s cheap and helps you validate your product idea fast. 

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Phased Rollout Strategy

What 7 Product Leaders Want You To Know About Phased Rollouts

“Ship early, ship often” is the kind of mantra that that makes launching new products seem almost intuitive. Launch first, iterate later; move fast and break things.

But if what you’re taking on is big and cumbersome – updating from older technology to a new codebase, for example –  that kind of advice has never really cut it.

When we surveyed a handful of experienced product managers, we found that when the stakes are high, they’re busy answering bigger questions:

  • “Is the cost of taking significantly longer to roll this out worth the time we lose in market?”
  • “Are customers willing to sacrifice having an incomplete solution when there is a promise of more to come?”
  • “Are there any potential downsides to not shipping the whole feature at once?”

And when an important new feature is too big to fit neatly into one complete release, they start planning a phased rollout.

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Sticky note roadmap cards

How A Product Roadmap Drives New Product Development

One of the main goals of a product roadmap is to create a product of value to an identified customer base. This is designed to make it possible for a company to achieve specific financial goals. The product roadmap covers market opportunities, reveals competitive pricing, provide steps from creation to successful distribution and more.

In an article from Pragmatic Marketing Magazine, “If no strategy exists, then one should be created…without a driving strategy behind it…(a) company risks being jacked around by short-term opportunities…product planning might very well stimulate some strategic discussions.”

Communicate like a boss

One of the most important aspects of product roadmapping is to communicate what you’re doing as a team, why you’re doing it and how you plan to get there. Since they’re clear, thematic and visual, roadmaps are useful for helping all team members understand what the product is going to do and what the team is meant to be working towards. We’ve found that outlining steps and initiatives is what it takes to effectively communicate your vision for a successful product to everyone involved, all at once.

Don’t include dates!

A successful roadmap doesn’t need any hard and fast dates. It’s important the document be as flexible as possible, as unexpected situations are likely to occur. If a goal cannot be met on a specific date frustration can begin to build. Being able to adapt your product roadmap to changing situations is key for eliminating frustration.

Get historical information

There are certain instances in which historical information can be useful for a product roadmap. That gives you helpful context when you’re building the case to further a new product’s development.

  • How long did it take to complete similar tasks in the past?
  • What roles were needed in past projects?
  • What kind of roadblocks or technical debt hindered the completion of past projects?

Resource planning needs historical information. This provides a way for a product roadmap to show exactly what is needed to finish the product’s creation, while also providing an overview of your current progress.

Get everyone on board

A roadmap can be used to plan for future resources, providing insight to all levels of management of the stage of your product’s development and what is needed from them. Likewise, it informs a company’s investors how it plans to expand and increase revenue in the future. This is also a way to increase a customer base by letting them anticipate what to expect from your product in the future.

If you would like to know more about product roadmapping we can help. Contact us today and learn more – or start a free trial now!

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