“A new feature has to retain users for that specific feature, have a scalable way to drive its own adoption, and has to improve retention, engagement, and/or monetization for the core product.”Casey Winters

Once you identify an opportunity to add value to your product, you don’t want to just build it. There’s a gap between the concept of new product features, and their implementation; it usually takes several iterations to get the execution to the point where it delivers value. This delay is known as time to money.

Once a concept has been validated, flesh it out:

  • What represents status quo?
  • Whose behaviors are expected to change?
  • How will they change?
  • How will the new behaviors benefit users or customers?
  • How will the new behaviors benefit the organization?
  • What will customers say about the changes?

Once you have clarity around what you’re trying to achieve, you can build a very lightweight prototype to test the implementation with the intended audience for the feature. This is best done through user testing.

Testing New Product Features

Since you want natural and honest reactions, the prototype needs to appear real. You can use Axure, Keynote, or basic HTML to create the prototype.

In recent years, Keynote has become one of the best prototyping tools on the market. It can be used to create prototypes to test new product features or ideas on mobile, or with desktop computers.

If the new functionalities are intended to improve engagement or retention, you should recruit a range of users (e.g. novices and power users). If they’re intended to improve acquisition or the sign-up and onboarding process, you need to recruit people who have never used your product.

Structuring Learning Sessions

It can be a good idea to combine user tests with interviews. If you do, schedule hour-long sessions with each participant. Your goals will be to:

  1. understand their context and how the new value would fit in their lives; and
  2. evaluate how well the implementation addresses their needs.

The first 10-15 minutes can be used to ask questions:

  • How would you describe your role as [ Role ]?
  • What does success look like for you?
  • Can you tell me how you deal with [ Job to be Done ]?
  • Why did you decide to start using [ Product ]?
  • Can you walk me through how you’re currently using [ Product ] to perform [ Job to be Done ]?
  • What’s preventing you from [ Specific Job Step ]?
  • Have you found ways to get more [ Outcome ]?
  • What do you feel are the main limitations of [ Product ]?

Follow the interview with a user test. Let users or customers familiarize themselves with the prototype for a few minutes. When ready, give them the first task.

As participants go through the tasks, ask about their:

  • Expectations: What would you expect this to be? What do you think would happen if you clicked this? How does that align with the way you do [ Task ]?
  • Understanding: What do you think this is? What do you think this means? What do you understand from this?

Acting on Insights for New Product Features

Your goal is to find gaps and friction points. In famous research, usability expert Jakob Nielsen demonstrated that five tests—with representative customers—can help reveal 85% of the issues.

It’s better to do more series of tests than more tests in a single series. This will help progressively improve your implementation. You will learn about usability, language, and task-related issues. As a result, you’ll ship much higher quality improvements that are much closer to the value customers expect, faster.

You’re not making your product better if the things that you add don’t have high usage. Iterating on new value additions is the best way of actually delivering new value to customers.

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This post in an excerpt from Solving Product. If you enjoyed the content, you'll love the new book. You can download the first 3 chapters here →.

Categories: Common Challenges