Why Product Thinking is the next big thing in UX Design

When thinking of User Experience, we often think of a simple, beautiful, and easy to use feature-set of a product, that makes the user’s life easier. But as a matter of fact, features are merely a small, fragile part of the product. They are only a few of many thinkable solutions for a user’s problem the product tries to solve. Thinking in products means thinking in specific user’s problems, in jobs to be done, in goals, and in revenues.

The core user experience is not a set of features; in fact, it is the job users hire the product for. Uber’s core user experience is to get a taxi easily at any time. The countdown, displaying when exactly the taxi will arrive, is a suitable feature that expands this experience. But Uber’s product works regardless of this feature. The countdown, on the other hand, cannot live without the product (the certainty to get a taxi easily at any time). There is a one-way interrelationship between feature and product: Features don’t work without the product. This is why designers should think in products first.

“Think in products, not in features”


Uncover the jobs the product is hired for

A product has a core user experience, which is basically the reason the product exists. It fulfills a need or solves a problem people have. By that, it becomes meaningful and provides a certain value. If the problem is non-existant, or the solution doesn’t fit to the problem, the product becomes meaningless and people won’t use the product; which in turn leads to the downfall of the product. Wrong solutions can be fixed, but non-existant problems aren’t adjustable at all. So, how can we be sure to tackle a real problem? Alas, we can‘t be 100% sure, but we can minimize the risk a lot by observing and talking to people. Hence, uncovering the problem and building solutions customers really want.

„It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want“ — Steve Jobs

Clay Christensen, for instance, once tried to improve the sales of milkshakes. He tried to make them sweeter, offered them in different tastes, and slightly increased the size of the cups. Nothing worked out, until he started observing the customers who bought milkshakes. He found out that the job the customers hired the milkshake for was in fact to make their morning car ride to work less boring. The big benefit a milkshake has is that it is a thick drink that lasts longer than any other drink and stuffs the stomach. This was the real problem; the customers had no idea about it. In the end Christensen came up with the solution to make the milkshake even thicker, which led to an increase in sales numbers. http://ipony.de/?p=3495

„Fall in love with a problem, not a specific solution“ — Laura Javier

Written by Pham Khoi
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