Businesses can sometimes be guilty of building products they believe will sell, without first validating them with end-customers. The result is time and money wasted on building products that customers don't need. Michele Memoli, Managing Director of design agency 100 Shapes, explains why customer-centric design is so valuable.
Putting customers at the heart of your design process is crucial to success. 'It doesn't matter what you think you want, it's whether people are willing to pay for it,' says Memoli.
• Validation starts with who. Consider who you are designing for and be sure you are giving them something of value. Listen intently to your customers, find out the what's, why's and how's and probe for as much insight as you can.
• Learn. Gather experts and discuss. Think about what you heard from your customers and the significance of that insight and how that informs what you are going to do next.
• Do. Decide what to do next and take action. Consider how you can balance what you hear your customer wants with what the organisation, sponsors and investors are trying to create.
Using design sprints
Design sprints were originally developed by Google to break-down complex processes into bitesize chunks. They're now used widely to enable teams to tackle single design challenges in short bursts of about four days. The output of a sprint is a prototype you can share with customers, to capture feedback before investing further time and money.
The first day of a sprint is for teams to deep-dive into the problem, before sketching out multiple ideas on how to solve it. Day two is for refining those ideas and understanding which ones might work, before creating a storyboard that maps the user journey. On day three, a prototype is created for testing with real users. The final day is for sharing the prototype with customers, so you can listen and learn and decide what to do next.
The rationale for design sprints is that you validate everything with users before investing time and money in developing products that they might not use. By focussing on short, sharp sprints you can validate and nullify ideas quickly, iteratively improving them before going further.
• Putting customers at the heart of the design process is crucial for success.
• Before investing time and money in design, validate your ideas with end-users first.
• Design sprints are a great tool for quickly validating ideas before investing further.