How can designers fix a broken product strategy?

A product strategy maps out the development and introduction of a product to the market. It makes coordinating projects, product design, and product management easier, ensuring that the result aligns with company goals. While they may not create the product strategy directly, designers' work and accomplishments are unavoidably impacted, particularly in lean and growth-driven cultures.

Working in cross-functional product teams and developing online and mobile solutions, I am familiar with a failed product strategy's warning signs and indicators. I will discuss those signs in this article and how designers may help their teams overcome them.

Lacking a Clear Product Vision

A clear product vision is essential to a successful product strategy. This vision is a light source, establishing the ultimate objective, giving direction, and guaranteeing team cohesion. The product vision acts as a compass, helping everyone get back on course when difficulties arise.

The product vision embodies the long-term goal. A product vision statement, which informs stakeholders of product objectives, concisely expresses them. For example, eBay strongly emphasizes being "enabled by people, powered by technology, and open to everyone" in its commerce vision statement. On the other hand, poorly written vision statements cause uncertainty, lack focus, and fail to provide the company with a clear path.

It becomes difficult for all stakeholders—business owners, engineers, and designers alike—to understand the broad picture without a clear and concise product vision. Teams may stray from their intended direction, leading to arguments about the right action. Promoting alignment around the product vision is crucial to ensuring everyone is heading in the same direction.

Solution: Measure Your Product's Success

A product's vision must be continuously evaluated throughout its life cycle to ensure alignment with market developments and expansion. Product success metrics, such as customer lifetime value and bounce rate, help estimate future income and measure user engagement. To improve the user experience and solve design flaws, product designers may also evaluate behavioral (like time on task) and attitudinal (like customer feedback) UX success indicators. These metrics provide crucial information for coordinating vision and product objectives. Precise measurements must be obtainable, auditable, and actionable, considering stakeholders and the product life cycle stage.

product focused processes

Overriding product requirements with customer requests

Understanding product needs and concentrating on features, functionalities, and behaviors rather than giving priority to every client request are critical components of creating a successful product strategy. Accurate product requirements are determined by market research and fulfill specific demands like smartphone storage and functioning, even if client requests spur purchases. Since it's only possible to satisfy some requests, balancing a product's aims and client requests is essential.

To manage consumer demands and achieve strategic equilibrium, CodeSuite proposes striking a balance between product excellence—developing outstanding goods quickly—and customer intimacy—tailoring to individual loyalty requirements.

Solution: Conduct UX Analysis to Evaluate Customers' Requests 

Sometimes, because of insufficient UX research, customer demands precede product needs, producing superfluous features. Engineers must fight back against subpar ideas, and designers must refuse them. Emphasizing the significance of comprehending customer requests' underlying issues, opportunity mapping matches customer requests with corporate objectives and consumer research. Using UX strategies such as empathy mapping and personas facilitates a deeper understanding of user demands.

An example of balancing customer wants, and company objectives was when we worked with our user community to match our product strategy with their requirements. Through gap analysis, customer willingness, and weekly sessions, we designed and released an innovative product that increased our user base dramatically. This method is an excellent example of a strategy that successfully balances client input and corporate goals.

Mistaking the Aspect of Value

Poor  product strategy often conflates adding many features with providing value. This results in feature creep—overly complex products that are expensive and have low customer satisfaction. CodeSuite recommends against packing a product with too many features, as no solution can satisfy all customers' expectations. By using this strategy, companies become "feature factories," highlighting the number of features above the value of those features. This strategy creates "bloatware" on devices—unwanted, superfluous programs preinstalled without users' consent. "Escaping the Build Trap" author Melissa Perri emphasizes that knowing the client's requirements adds value, not features. It is more important to measure performance by results than by-products.

Solution: Implement a Successful Prioritization System Structure

Product teams may prioritize essential features based on cost-benefit analysis, user value, and alignment with company goals. The feature selection process within the product strategy services may be rationalized and streamlined by using formal frameworks such as MoSCoW, RICE, and Kano. For example, by classifying features into must-haves, should-haves, could-haves, and won't-haves based on consumer research and demands, the MoSCoW technique enables efficient product prioritization under tight timelines.

product strategy frameworks

Experiencing communication failures

Managing a variety of stakeholder inputs and resolving communication problems are frequent hurdles in creating product strategies. Product managers' roles differ significantly, impacting their prioritization of engineering, design, marketing, and user involvement. To avoid misunderstandings and guarantee seamless project execution, designers must clearly define their roles and responsibilities. These problems may be lessened by addressing position clarity up front and creating transparent reporting structures. Misunderstandings, a lack of input, and compartmentalized processes, particularly between UX designers and product managers—who may have different approaches to requirements and user experience—can still lead to confrontations.

Solution: Enhance Your Product's Vision and Promote Conflict Resolution 

Effective communication and alignment are essential for a cross-functional product team to prioritize product strategy services. Establishing the product vision collectively is advantageous, as is ensuring all team members can access it via digital platforms or office displays.

Project disagreements are unavoidable, but how they are handled is crucial. Agile frameworks provide organized methods for resolving disputes and defining responsibilities through early cooperation among various team roles. They also offer retrospective sessions to assess accomplishments and development opportunities.

Activating Needless Resource Loading

Resource planning requires resource loading and impacts all team members. Overcommitting resources may cause problems with a project right from the start and is a sign of a poor product strategy. Overstretching affects design, engineering, testing, and marketing.

Neglecting a project's accomplishments may worsen load problems, resulting in a lack of focused development and high workloads. Acknowledging successes instead of concentrating on shortcomings helps direct future growth.

Solution: Develop an MVP Prototype

A thoughtful way to expedite time to market, save costs, and simplify design processes is to begin with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) prototype. The product development cycle determines the most suitable prototype: high-fidelity, interactive mock-ups for later stages or low-fidelity wireframes for earlier ones. High-fidelity prototypes give comprehensive insights into product functionality, whereas low-fidelity versions offer simple visual arrangements. Especially in lean contexts, a rapid MVP prototype allows for early feedback, enabling iterative improvements and guaranteeing progress despite time or resource restrictions.

product failures can be easier to remedy with modular design

Stable Product Strategies require a strong Product Vision.

A fundamental component of all effective product strategies is a well-defined, cooperatively created product vision that incorporates user and consumer inputs from the outset. Obstacles aside, the creation and execution of successful solutions are aided by a well-defined vision, a firm understanding of the product's needs, and conflict resolution techniques.

Contact us for free consultation regarding product strategy services.