Product management is a tough job. You must tread the intersection between business, technology, and user experience, to discover a product that is valuable, usable, and feasible.
And there are no guarantees in the world of mobile and web applications. You can have a great application with the most innovative and amazing features—but if nobody wants it, it’s worthless…just another forgotten product in the application market.
So how do you make your application exceptional, and give it the best chance of success?
Do what other business don’t do. Go the extra mile with every step of the process…
…because the fate of an application is determined long before the launch.
Here are 5 product manager MUSTS for creating a successful mobile/web app:
1. Focus on what users NEED, instead of what they want.
Product managers often directly ask users what they want, and base their product on this information. This makes sense intuitively, but in reality, it’s problematic.
There is usually a gap between what users say they want, and what they actually need. Users are stuck in the middle of the problem, so it’s difficult to determine the best solution.
They don’t know what they want. They also don’t know what’s possible. While users have a general idea of a potential solution, they’re often unaware of the latest technological developments.
It’s great to talk to users, but be aware of the limitations. Don’t just build the product based on what users say they want.
As a product manager, you need to think outside of the box to determine the best solution. That’s where you can contribute the most value. How will your application solve their real world problem?
2. Value vs Innovation
You should add value with every step of the application development process. But there’s a difference between value and innovation.
More features does not equate to more value. In fact, usually the opposite is true. More is less, and simplicity is key for a great user experience.
Take Google.com as an example. It’s the most popular web page on the internet—and arguably the simplest. With just a search bar and an “I’m Feeling Lucky” option, users have everything they need to navigate the web.
So, how do you keep it simple and avoid innovation for innovation’s sake? In order to add value, innovation needs to be directed. When the development team is given clear vision and insight into the user’s problems, they can channel their technological passion into value-adding solutions.
Users won’t struggle with the frustration of navigating through complex features. Instead, your application will provide a simpler way to solve their problem.
3. Market prelaunch
App development and app marketing should be part of the same overall strategic plan. In order to monetize, you need users. It’s not good enough to build a great app and expect the revenue to roll in.
It’s important to get your marketing team involved early, so they can plan the go-to-market strategies for your app—and so they understand every feature. Set the stage for your application to get discovered before it launches—so it doesn’t waste away in the app store with no users to speak of.
Here are some quick tips to market your app prelaunch:
- Start the conversation: Start a blog related to your app, industry, or service, and talk about the problem you’re trying to solve.
- Collect emails: Create a “Coming Soon” web page with an email-opt-in, so you can collect emails and send out value-packed newsletters.
- Social media: Build a strong presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+ to interact with fans and followers. Spread the word, engage with users, and answer questions. Create contests to encourage users to share your updates.
4. Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Don’t wait until your product is perfect before you sell it. By the time you launch, it might be too late and you’ll miss your opportunity. Instead, develop a minimum viable product.
The idea behind the MVP is to build just enough of the core of your product so that you can get it to users and collect feedback…and maybe even get some of them to pay you for it. This allows you to build more versions faster and often, and create the best, ultimate app.
You won’t waste time building a product for months, only to discover that nobody wants it. It’s a win-win, because you save time and money, while determining if there is a market for the product—and if there’s not, you can make a change along the way.
5. Don’t ease up after the launch
So you finally launched the product—now it’s time to ease up, right? Actually, it’s the opposite. That’s only half the product manager’s job. Now, you must shift your focus from internal feedback to external feedback. You have to get the product in front of millions of users, drive adoption, and make it successful.
You need to make sure the direction of the product is right, consider current and future trends, and assess how they will affect the product. In order to give your product the best chance of success after launch, you need the same (or more) effort to sustain it.
Product management is a complex process, but if you do the things listed above, you’ll increase the chance that your app is developed on time, has a tangible market, and can be monetized.
Do you have any additional product manager MUSTS? What product management difficulties have you faced when building mobile/web apps? Tweet us or shoot us an email at [email protected]!
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