One of my friends in the past had an idea for a new mobile application, his idea has been originated from a problem he faced before, he was talking about his solution everywhere and he was very passionate about it.
He started hiring a team of developers and designers and started implementing his solution and finally, he has a working version of his application in the store.
But guess what? NO ONE WAS INTERESTED IN THIS APP!!
Unfortunately, my friend was solving a problem he had but he didn’t know whether anyone else has this problem or not. He was very depressed and didn’t know why no one is interested in such a solution.
My friend is an example of many people and many startups that when they got an idea they start implementing it and they perceive that people will love it.
Before you start building any product you need first to have a strategy, a plan for your product in order to succeed.
Let’s first define what is the definition of a strategy.
“Strategy is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty.” Wikipedia
So in general, any strategy is about evaluating your current situation and helps you to get to where you want. It’s about setting goals, determining actions and mobilizing resources to achieve these goals.
So, what do we mean when we say UX Strategy?
“UX strategy is the process that should be started first, before the design or development of a digital product begins. It’s the vision of a solution that needs to be validated with real potential customers to prove that it’s desired in the marketplace.” Jaime Levy
To differentiate between UX strategy and UX design, we can say that UX design is concerned with usability, content, interaction design while UX strategy is concerned with the big picture, the direction of the product and achieving business goals.
Now, let’s explain why UX strategy is important and why you need a UX strategy for your product:
1- Identify the value for your product by solving the right problem for your users.
2- Make your focus on specific target audiences, which help you to overcome features creep.
3- Give you a direction for all aspects of design including user experience, interaction design, visual design, and branding.
4- Make everything connected. In big companies like Apple, Google and Facebook with many products, they need a UX strategy to make all their products aligned together.
5- Help you to identify a competitive advantage for your product.
UX Strategy has many aspects, and in her book “UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want”, Jaime Levy has identified a framework for UX strategy which consists of four tents: Business strategy, Value innovation, Validated user research and Killer UX.
In this articles, let’s talk in deep about Value Innovation:
W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne developed the concept of Value Innovation, the cornerstone of Blue Ocean Strategy. It is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost, creating a leap in value for both buyers and the company. Because value to buyers comes from the offering’s utility minus its price, and because value to the company is generated from the offering’s price minus its cost, value innovation is achieved only when the whole system of utility, price, and cost is aligned. blueoceanstrategy.com
Blue Ocean Vs. Red Ocean
Red Ocean companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of existing demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth reduce. Products become commodities and cut-throat competition turns the ocean bloody red.
Blue Ocean companies, in contrast, access untapped market space and create demand, and so they have the opportunity for highly profitable growth. In Blue Oceans, competition is irrelevant. Yes, imitators arise, but experience shows there is a wide window of opportunity to stay ahead of imitators.
Let’s talk about examples of products which created a great innovative and unique value propositions:
“True value innovation occurs when the UX and business model intersect”. Jaime Levy
Airbnb has changed the way people rent places for travel, they have disrupted the industry of travel. They take the advantage of blue ocean strategy and created a new market with a new demand.
Uber has changed the transportation industry and the way people move from one place to another. They created a new market and now there is a lot of products entered this market.
iPod has revolutionized the way people listen to music.
How to validate your value proposition?
“A value proposition is a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services. It’s outcome focused and stresses the business value of your offering.”
Pinterest “Join Pinterest to find and save all the things that inspire you.”
Snapchat “The fastest way to share messages, photos, videos, texts, and drawings with friends for a limited amount of time.”
Once you have crafted your value proposition based on your business goals and stakeholders perspective about the product, you need now to validate this value proposition and find out whether you are solving the right problem for the right people or not.
In her book “UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want”, Jaime Levy identified these five steps in which you can use to validate your value proposition:
Step 1: Define your primary customer segment.
A customer is a group or segment of people with a common need or pain. You customer segment can’t be everybody, if you think that your solution is for everyone then you need to think again about a specific segment.
Customer segment can be males lives in Chicago with a problem of making new friends or students in Los Angles searching for summer internships.
Step 2: Identify your customer segment’s (biggest) problem.
After you defined your customer segment, you have to define their biggest problem which your product will solve. Just remember that all of these are assumptions NOT facts.
Problems could be “Students in Los Angles have a hard experience in finding good summer internships.”
Step 3: Create provisional personas based on your assumptions.
“A persona is a user archetype you can use to help guide decisions about product features, navigation, interactions, and even visual design.” Alan Cooper
Step 4: Conduct customer discovery to validate or invalidate your solution’s initial value proposition.
Customer discovery is a process used to discover, test, and validate whether a specific product solves a known problem for an identifiable group of users; it is essentially conducting user research.
You need to meet and talk to people from you customer segment, you need to validate your value proposition and your persona through these interviews.
During meeting people and interviewing them, the interview has two parts:
First, Screener questions: The goal of this part is to identify whether the customer you are talking to is matching your customer segment or not. If the customer matches your segment then continue if not thank him and find another person.
Second, Interview questions: The goal of this part is to investigate the problem you are trying to solve, how customers solve this problem now and what are their pain points.
Step 5: Reassess your value proposition based on what you learned! (And continue to iterate until you have product/market fit.)
Now, you need to reassess and analyze what you have. And you have to take a decision based on this data and analysis.
One of three things should have happened according to Jaime Levy:
• You did not validate your customer hypothesis. Therefore, you need to pivot on who you think your customers really are. Go back to Step 1.
• You did not validate the pain point your customers were experiencing. Therefore, you need to pivot on the problem. Go back to Step 2.
• You validated both your customer and your problem hypothesis and are feeling pretty good about your solution’s value proposition. CONGRATS!!
In today’s world and with this massive competition and a huge number of startups and products, you shouldn’t fall in love with your ideas or think these ideas will change the world without a real evidence.
You need to validate your ideas first and engage your users and customers in the process of thinking and designing you product. You shouldn’t start any development activities until you validate your ideas.
- UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products That People Want (Book)
- The Importance of a Focused User Experience Strategy
- Blue Ocean Strategy Tools
- Don’t ever forget about Value Proposition