Lately I have a chance to play with quite a number of ideas for new software products. Actually not all of them are software but at least vast majority of them are. All of them are on the evaluation stage so there are still decisions to be made whether any of them will become real.
I catch myself checking each product idea against a few criteria – product traps.
1. Why would users use that?
Most of the time product managers believe product must solve a problem. While that’s of course desired that’s not necessarily a must-have. There are bunches of “useless” products we use because of their marketing or because we think they’re cool while they solve none of our problems. This is by the way a much better strategy than having a product which solves a non-existent problem or solves a problem in a wrong way.
2. Who is on your way to users and why would they like the product?
We look at product ideas either being in vendor’s shoes or user’s shoes. Unfortunately, most of the time we have a man in the middle. Integrator, bank, mobile operator, company management, you name it. Apart from a part of web-based googlish world it’s a rare situation when end-user is also a decision-maker. That means you have to find an incentive for decision-makers to buy the product. Otherwise you won’t make it to the market. “Where’s the money?” You’ll hear that a lot.
3. Do you have a complete vision?
That one is tough. Most of product ideas are incomplete. There are black holes in the plan. They can be just anywhere. Competition verification, far-fetched business model, too much of author’s bias, lack of confidence in success, over-simplified design, whatsoever. Yes, your plan will change over time, but that doesn’t actually mean you can skip planning phase or omit some steps.
If I see a product idea which avoids all those traps I’ll probably follow your zeal. Because you’re a zealot of your product idea, aren’t you?
As Christmas approaches I wish you have more great ideas than poor ones. And have enough persistence to forge ideas to products which will be loved by users.