2020/11/05Why It Is Important to Incorporate Product Thinking in UX Design
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Incorporating product thinking in UX is the only sure way to create a valuable and necessary product for your clients and users. Read on to find out what product thinking is and why it is significant in user experience design.

Product Thinking: Key Component of UX

What is UX? It is all about the feelings, impressions, and opinions that a user experiences when interacting with a product, service, or company. It is known that UX can immensely improve the customer experience. However, this broad concept is not limited to usability or the degree to which a product or service helps users accomplish their tasks. 

The key component of UX design thinking is not the feature set but the puzzle that needs to be solved – the user problem. Thus, designers must initially be concerned about the product goal since features don’t work without it. The product holds a key UX, which is essentially the ground for its existence. It matches the demands or satisfies the needs of users. Thus, it acquires meaning and a real purpose. If the task does not exist, or the solution is not suitable for the task, the product loses its meaning, and people will not use it. 

design thinking

Why Is Product Thinking Important?

To comprehend what product thinking is and why it is important, you only need one good example. The Macdonald’s company, who wanted to boost purchases of their milkshakes, decided to add more sugar, created a rich selection of various flavors, and, finally, made the glasses bigger. The company made them sweeter, offered them in different flavors, and increased the glasses’ size. The company also conducted customer surveys trying to find a cocktail with the perfect flavor and characteristics, but none of it worked. It became obvious that the company had to approach the problem from a different angle. The team made a distinction between a product’s function and the “purpose” that the product must fulfill. As a result of the research, it was discovered that buyers purchase milkshakes in order not to be bored in the morning on the way to the office. Not quenching thirst and not enjoying the taste, but a cure for boredom – this is the main “aim” of this product. Thus, the company decided to make the milkshakes thicker and added fruit pieces for more entertainment, which boosted sales. And that was exactly the UX product thinking.

As you can see, the secret of success is simple: think like a user, think of their goals and needs. A product’s user interface is built around its core – the reason why the product exists at all – to satisfy needs and solve problems. Thus, the product acquires significance and usefulness. 

In short, your team should be able to develop a model for product thinking in 5 steps, defining the following:

  • users’ problems/needs
  • target audience
  • company perspectives/goals
  • goal-reaching strategy
  • duration of A/B testing.

Develop a Product Thinking Model

The software product manager is essentially a middle ground between an entrepreneur and a scientist. This role implies that you know the metrics of the software product, are able to build design thinking prototypes, and test them, but at the same time have a pumped-up problem-solving skill. To develop a product thinking prototype and make all the workaround, you need to accomplish these simple steps first: 

  • build hypotheses
  • conduct interviews with clients
  • identify their problems and pains 
  • study the market to collect ideas/understand the environment
  • tests hypotheses through prototype testing on clients/through multivariate tests/a/b tests/split tests.

The Double Diamond model used for creating a product thinking prototype consists of two stages. In the first step, focus on the problem: identify what problem really needs to be solved within what environment/conditions. In the second phase, focus on developing and testing a prototype solution. Each stage is a cyclical process that should be repeated until useful conclusions are found, and only then you should move forward.

user experience process
Source: University of Edinburgh

It seems simple enough, but finding out the answers to these questions is not always easy. Research shows that over 95% of new products are not successful in the market. To improve your UX product thinking, you need to develop skills in the following areas:

  1. Business: understand how the market and your business work, what the company’s mission is.
  2. Product: manage a product, understand the specifics/limitations of your market, study consumers, manage a team.
  3. Design: be empathetic, implement a user-centered design.
  4. Technology: track technology trends, find a compromise between design and technology.
  5. Communications: master storytelling, be able to present and listen.

For a business to be profitable, you have to provide buyers with what they need. But how to understand what is required and what is not? This is when you need to start learning the users.

Understanding User’s Needs 

To incorporate a product thinking strategy in your UX design, you have to start learning the user’s needs. For this, consider applying the following methods:

  • In-depth interviews: provide an opportunity to communicate with a client personally and find out what he does/doesn’t buy and why.
  • Surveys: if customers provide you with a bad rating, you can return to them and ask what exactly they are unhappy with. 
  • Analysis of search queries: study what users write in different fields and analyze search queries on the site.
  • Interaction analysis: understand how users behave on a website or app. 
  • Technical support: a lot of useful information can be obtained from the support team, sales department, and managers (they communicate more actively with the customer and feel their pains).
  • Communities: often, the problems that some participants write about are solved by others right in the comments.
  • A/B tests: test different hypotheses and choose the option that brought the maximum result.
  • Study competitors: learn the patterns of your competitors’ behavior and take the best from their experience.
  • Transformation into a user: start using your product. This way, you can identify bugs before your users do.

UX product thinking is more relevant than ever due to the colossal competition in the IT product market. Effective solutions at the intersection of specializations will be more and more critical; thus, UX designers who understand related areas, including business, will be more and more appreciated. Otherwise, you can waste time on a beautiful but unnecessary solution, which will likely be critical for the entire business in the long run.

Product Thinking Approach for UX Designers

To help you absorb the information about the significance of UX product thinking, we will make a short trip into the past. In the dashing 90s, when the UX designers first appeared, the timeline of the product creation was way too long. Too much time was spent on communication and coordination of solutions, taking into account the interests of all parties. Meanwhile, the competitive environment imposed more and more stringent conditions, demanding to release products as quickly as possible and, at the same time, not at the expense of quality. Thus, in recent years, specialists with skills in several areas who can master new technologies quickly are especially needed in the market. How to fit all this knowledge into one head and keep up with constantly updated trends?

Now the world offers many ready-made solutions. This leads to the fact that sometimes UX designers allow themselves not to think about each of their decisions, using ready-made ones. Yes, it saves a lot of time. However, ignorance of the reasons that resulted in the emergence of specific standards leads to the impossibility of calculating the consequences that will lead to changes in these standard solutions. And most importantly, because of the superficial attitude, user goals begin to be forgotten. To be more precise, real users’ needs are easily replaced with standard, generally accepted ones, without in-depth analysis.

UX product thinking brings us back to the origins when there were not so many ready-made solutions, and each new project was approached from scratch. Today, a UX designer is required to have not only a deep knowledge of information architecture but also responsibility, ability, and desire to think broadly. He/she should be able to make important decisions, as well as the art of explaining their correctness to people far from design. Oddly enough, UX designers should be willing to give up their ideas in favor of business goals to find a compromise option to create an ideal product ready to rival in the world arena.

Final Word

Product thinking is an approach to developing innovative projects focusing on user needs, considering the business’s goals and objectives. It reduces the risk of developing unnecessary features and eventually saves money by offering the right solution. UX product thinking means building decisions intuitively but based on insights that it receives through feedback from users. It does not strive to achieve the perfect result on the first try but makes constant improvements based on feedback and market trends.

It is one of the secrets of a company’s success. Without realizing and trying to improve it, change and redo, reinvent, and rediscover – it will be much more difficult to generate value. 

If you are looking for a qualified product design, UX design, etc., Northell is at your service! We strive to create compelling digital solutions that help B2B, B2C, and SaaS companies realize their unique business goals. Our key focus areas are product design and web development. We are excited about what we do. If you are ready to start, don’t hesitate to contact us

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