Fleshing Out The Initial Design

This post will have two parts: philosophical and practical. Both short and to the point.

The way you start a new product? It is like asking — what is the way you are going towards your future. There are many. Each one of us will have a different path. I can show you mine. If it helps anybody — great. If not it will clarify my thinking about creating things.

Usually things we want to build are not just something that shows up from nowhere. It is something we have been interested in for a while. Something we wanted to build. There is a class of people that run around looking for ideas. Ignore those people. They are like goats. They just eat grass here, eat grass there. To build something you will need to put sweat, blood and tears into that something. There is no other way.

I can narrow it down to how do you start the process of designing the product you want to build.

Product by definition is something that solves a very specific problem. So you need to define the problem.

It helps if you have answers to all the following questions:

  • What is the problem?
  • Who is having it? Why?
  • Why can’t they just buy somebody else product?
  • What makes your solution better?
  • How much do you need to charge for it?
  • Or do you want to charge anything? Is it free?
  • Why do you want to build it?
  • Do you even want to get into solving somebodies’ problem?

Plenty of books out there about some of those questions. (Which are products in themselves.)

Before building you need to figure out if anybody gives a damn. You do that by talking to people that have the problem you think you are solving. It is always easier to build something for yourself — you know the problem you just need to solve it. A bit harder if you are trying to create business. You need to figure out if they will give you their money. Don’t believe if they say they will. Only believe the actual act of giving you money. If there is no people that give you money — maybe the problem is not that big or that painful. Try another problem in the same general direction.

After you proved that people are giving you money. Try building something. Unless you are just hacking then go right ahead.

The general scheme is — define the following views of the product:

Broad view: What is the problem; what is the solution.
Mid view: What parts does your solution has?
Close view: What is the minimum number of features that will
make it a solution and not a promise of a solution.

Notice the minimum part and that in order to know what features to put in — you need to think throw the flow of actions your user will go throw.

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