Having a vision of what your product is and how it changes the lives of your customers is an often overlooked but critical part of the process of digital product development. It is a step that takes place when a team creates a value proposition. The value a product creates in the world must be accompanied by a clear story of what the product is and the impact it creates in the user’s lives. A north star vision creates alignment between partners, peers, team members and management so they never lose track of the ultimate goal of what the project needs to achieve.
To illustrate this Kevin Cheng, CEO of the Incredible Labs, says, “The relationship between storytelling and design is that you need the story for people to understand how [the product] relates to them.”
The north star vision is the story that also helps a product team make decisions. A clear vision helps teams choose the right path during development and define the value of the new product is a clear story-based way.
Defining The Value Proposition
Defining a unique value proposition for a new product provides clarity on what is important for the team to focus on during development. A good value proposition defines why users are buying a product. Or why they should give their attention to a product. Having a clear value proposition also helps to gain executive buy-in. The product team needs to present a unique value proposition so executives understand why they should invest in the product. It also clarifies why they should use their resources and attention to make sure this product is launched into the market.
In order to create a solid value proposition, it is critical to gather the answers to the following questions:
- What similar products already exist in the marketplace?
- How does your product differ from the others?
- How is your product similar?
- And what do your users desire?
The overlap of all of these questions is what we call the point of parity. These points of parity provide alignment between each section to showcase the value you are providing to your users.
This approach provides deep insights into what is unique about your product compared to competitors on the market. List out the features your product offers that you share with your competitors. Next list out the points of difference. This will reveal options that your service has that the others do not. What is unique to your product is critical to developing the value proposition. It is just as critical to understand what is not important to your prospective users. If certain features are not necessary to your users, leave them out of the product. Do not invest time and money on things that your customers do not need or desire. Having a clear vision and value proposition helps a team understand what to leave out.
The final step is to focus on the points of difference of the new product. These are the features that are important to your prospective users and not available from the competitors. This provides the insights a team needs to build a product that is different from anything else on the market. The clarity helps teams make decisions on what to let go of and what to leave in. What is valuable is defined by your users. This relationship is what a value proposition is, it bridges the gap between the problem your product solves and your audience’s needs.
It acts as a promise to the market, audience, partners and executives to deliver something of value when the product is launched. Defining that value clearly is crucial for success. Scott Hurff an instructor with InVision describes the role of the product designer as someone who must adopt the traits of Churchill. Hurff says, “You have to know your facts and discover how to find them.”
He lists a series of questions to help a teams when creating their product:
- First, determine who your product serves or could serve.
- Second, study current and potential customers in their natural habitats to find out what they need, what they might need or be ready to buy.
- Third, build products and features that speak to those needs and wants.
When defining your value proposition, it is important to remember: Who is your audience? What are the jobs to be done? What are they trying to do? Why is this relevant for them? This process of developing a value proposition means focusing the audience’s needs.
The North Star Vision Creates Focus
Creating a successful product does not happen through good luck alone. It comes from a deep understanding of your audience, their behaviors, their preferences, and needs. And to make something that is important, relevant, and successful for them, a product team must stay focused on what is truly important. It is not unusual for a team to lose their way. For example, a common pitfall for teams is creating too many new features.
This is where the north star vision becomes important. A product with a concise and well-defined vision creates guard rails for teams and keeps them all on track. It reduces the scope of the product regarding what to include in the first release. This helps a team understand the core value your product needs to achieve and to make sure that everyone is aligned with the vision.
We have designed a template to help digital product teams develop their own north star project vision. The template explores a series of questions that assist with envisioning the finished product. This process helps teams imagine what future customers will say about it. How it works and even what it could look like. Once the process of imagining has been documented by the team, it becomes accessible. The team can see clearly what they are trying to achieve together.
Using the combination of a north star vision and a clear value proposition binds a product team together in a powerful way. These tools help alleviate common problems within teams. For example, someone not understanding the full scope of the project. Or if a team member diverges from the group and starts acting on their own. Or worse still create something that your audience doesn’t care about because it is not relevant to them.
This content is an expert of our Digital Product Launch program, get in touch for more information or visit the site. Download our north star vision template here and get in touch if you have any questions. We are always excited to learn about new digital products and projects.
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