Know Your User, Know Your Product - A Framework for Creating User-Driven Products

As a software engineer, the majority of my time covers a number of activities such as scoping development projects, building and testing user-driven solutions.

In this post, I will go through the prototyping fundamentals that are critical to creating great products and services.

Empathise with Your User
When trying to solve a technical problem, you must first and foremost understand your user. Try to use qualitative and quantitative methods to gain user insights.

Go out of the office, sit down with your user and listen. Interviews/surveys are practical tools for gathering qualitative user data.

You can also observe a user through doing a demo. The importance of this activity is to learn how a user interacts with your product. This can reveal further questions and product ideas that make up the product release.

Make sure you collect large amount of qualitative data - use open-ended questions, as this leads to more in-depth answers.

Define Your User Group
After collecting data, you will need to define who is user group. Here are few ideas to help with this process:

  • Think - what are their beliefs?
  • Say - what is their language?
  • Feel - what is their emotional state?
  • Do - what is their job/hobbies?

You will be able to observe user behavioural patterns that form pain points which your product should aim to solve.

Brainstorm For Ideas
Once you have defined common user problems, you should brainstorm as many solutions to solve the core problem.

Try to use the Sprint methodology to generate a lot of possible solutions.

At this stage, the goal is to create as many ideas as possible. It doesn’t matter how mad, expensive or hard it is to implement it. The more ideas, the better.

Create A Prototype
Aim to use readily available resources to bootstrap the solution into reality.

If you are building an app/web-based solution, sketch wireframes to see how your solution would work. You can use Invision to get things started.

If you are creating a service, use storyboarding to demonstrate the entire user experience.

Testing, Testing, Testing
Testing is the critical stage as it will determine whether you have created the right solution for your users.

At this stage keep it very simple, and it doesn’t need to be complicated.

If you’re creating an app/web-based solution app, use the wireframe you designed to navigate users. If you are offering a service, try to use roleplaying to guide users.

Gather feedback and use it to iterate towards a functioning product.

Following the above framework will not only lead to a working product, but it will give you insights into your target users which is critical to building products they love.


What is Wrong with This List?

Emmanuel hit me up last week with an article from the Business Insider, “The 100 coolest people in UK tech”, and asked me what is wrong with this list.

A few seconds scrolling down and it dawned on me relatively exactly what was wrong with the list - there was not an obvious black face to be seen anywhere.

There are no obvious quantitative metrics by which to measure coolness, such is the subjective nature of these lists right. But it still frustrates me that people that look like myself continue to be overlooked and underrepresented.

Yes, I did take time to grow through the list and tally up some simple diversity stats.

Yes, this is really what I do in my spare time.

The list sums to 113 but it counts a group of people as one position on the list.

BI List

As you can see the list is 81% white and 77% male, which, sad to say, is to be expected, but there is no black representation on the list whatsoever.

Last year it was marginally better there were an almighty and incredulous amount of black people on the “cool” list.

How many you ask? Well… just two black women. Julie Adenuga at No.3 and Legacy Russell at No.92

There are more black people than ever (both men and women) now involved in the tech ecosystem.

We need more representation, and we need to be the drivers for this. If we leave it to lists this one published on Business Insider, we will always be asking “where are the people that look like us.”

Instead of expressing my disappointment repeatedly, we need to take this as a time to celebrate platforms that celebrate other underrepresented groups and us.

Such as:

Let us know your thoughts about the list and showcasing underrepresented groups in the UK tech ecosystem.