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.