Browsing through the App Store or Google Play, you’ll quickly notice a sad truth among new product releases. It seems that for every one excellently designed product, there are ten more behind it that simply lack the quality of design to be successful. Whether overly complicated, junked up with too many features, or simply poor aesthetics—many products start with a great idea or solution but by the time they launch, they simply miss the mark because they lack great product design.
There are several common mistakes that lead talented designers and developers to find themselves launching less than stellar products. Here are our favorite do’s and don’ts to help you avoid this fate and design a truly great product:
1) Do Keep it Simple. Don’t Overload with Features.
As the industry continues to innovate and come up with new features, the possibilities in product design are truly endless. But often, excellent design is better achieved by what designers leave out than what is included. The best products on the market are clean, easy to use and solve a real world consumer problem.
As hard as it may be, resist the temptation to implement every cool feature that comes up as you brainstorm. Be ruthless in your editing and keep only those features that truly improve your product.
2) Don’t Design in a Bubble. Do Collaborate with Your Team.
They say teamwork makes the dream work. This is especially true in product design, where over time the most respected innovations in technology across the Silicon Valley and beyond have proven that our greatest ideas come from working together with a collaborating group of developers.
Some budget conscious startups will try to hire one-size-fits-all designers or programmers to create their entire product in order to save on cost. But no matter the skill set, letting just one person design your product limits you to one set of preferences and one point of view. The best products are the work of a team of collaborators sharing and refining ideas to co-create a final product that could never have been developed in that exact way by any one of the team members alone.
3) Do Know Your Audience. Don’t Just Design for Your Own Preferences.
Even when we’re working with a team, it’s easy for us as developers to see ourselves and our own preferences as more in line with the product’s target customers than the reality. This is true both in aesthetics and especially in functionality. Because we live and breathe these products for months at a time, we begin to see features as natural just because we’ve done them so many times, while to the user the same feature or interface can feel foreign and totally wrong.
This is why the investment in beta testing is so key to a great product launch. Maybe the interface seems completely intuitive to you and your team of developers—but if your target audience is less digitally savvy, they’ll have very different product needs. By selecting a great, targeted group of likely consumers to test out your product, you’ll get a much better idea of how your audience is using your product and avoid having to undergo significant redesigns after a less than successful launch.
4) Do Stay True to Your Product’s Mission and Strategy. Don’t Chase Trends.
In such a fast paced and evolving market, developers can easily become consumed by what the competition is doing. But instead of helping your product succeed, new trends and features can easily distract from what your product is actually meant to do.
Of course innovation is important, but not every new idea is actually a benefit to your product. Stay true to the goals of what your product is meant to deliver for the consumer. If a new feature genuinely helps to achieve that goal, great. But if not, save the tricks and refer back to #1—keep your product clean and simple.
5) Do Create an Intuitive Product. Don’t Skimp on User Experience.
The sad truth is that users’ patience for the learning curve of a new app is incredibly short. With the current pace of the market, your app can offer a great solution to a real world problem, but if it’s not intuitive to use or requires reading a lot of complicated instructions, the user will simply delete and move on.
Often products with less functionality but greater simplicity will be more successful than a product that does more but isn’t intuitive. That’s why no matter how useful your product may be, creating a clean and friendly interface that users can naturally understand is key to the success of the product. User experience simply can’t be ignored.