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LAUNCH OR "DIE"

Nikos Liokalos Technical Director
13SEP
2018

You identified a problem, you have a decent idea of a solution, you secured a budget and you are now ready to build your project. You are eager to start bringing your idea to fruition, to design the perfect, most innovative UI, to build the ultimate user experience and smooth out every user flow. Stop right there. Most times your success will be determined by none of these.

One of the most crucial KPIs of whether your project will succeed is how fast you can offer it to your users. It’s Time To Market. The sooner you can get your solution to your users the better. As mundane as this may sound, it is one of those things that everyone knows but consistently fails to follow.

If I had a dime for every time I heard “the deadline for a project is yesterday”, I‘d be rich. More often than not though, clients that require the impossible are the ones that fail to run things fast on their end. They build committees trying to decide on the colour of a header menu. They go back and forth on strategic decisions. They focus on insignificant to the scope of the project features, and they are afraid of launching until every minor detail of the project is polished to their – subjective - liking, regardless of whether the end-users will benefit from it or not.

Build what matters

If you can only remember one thing from this article, it is this: You do not know from the start what your users will want. Period. If you just go by what Henry Ford said while building his first car, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” and think you know better than your user, I regret to inform you that, most likely, none of us are Henry Ford or Steve Jobs; and we have a greater chance of building successful products if we just listen to what our users are saying and act upon it.

What this means is that you should get your project out there the soonest and get ready to pivot towards your users’ needs. This bare-bones, no frills, no bells and whistles solution that gets the job done is your MVP. Your minimum viable product.

For every new project, there are a ton of parameters to take into account, numerous constraints and assumptions that you should consider, different systems to integrate, various user and data flows to support. I agree. Yet you will be surprised to know that the true value of each project is usually found within a handful of features. This is what you need to build first. This will test the concept. This minimum functionality that encloses the essence of the value proposition of the project, will allow users to familiarize themselves with your solution. It will allow you to examine market fit. This is huge. Because you will get a glimpse into users’ minds. You will see what excites them and what not and then... you will get to invest in the features users ask for the most and not in those you, subjectively, think to be better.

So, avoid analyzing every minute detail of the system. Do not fool yourself thinking that you can design the perfect solution from the get-go or that you can take into account every edge case scenario that may as well never take place in real life. Let time and essence be the deciding factor of what you build. Try to suppress your perfectionism or your subjective opinion and have in mind that the longer the development of a project lasts, the more likely it is to drown in the details.

Users do not care about your company, the colour of your homepage or whether you are trying to disrupt a legacy industry. They only care about the service they get. They will come back based on the price they get, the quality they receive, the time they save or the status they enjoy (yes, status is how Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Porsche are selling overpriced, less fuel-efficient products). Therefore, you should better optimise your core offering to your users, rather than the colour of your website or the choice of your homepage’s hero image.

Make sure that business needs always drive design and development decisions

We are in a world where life constantly accelerates and users’ attention span shortens by the year; a world where AI is just a few years away from bringing most of the traditional industries crashing down. There is literally no time to lose.

So as soon as you have an MVP, launch and monitor. Analyze and pivot. Build features users ask.

Be agile ;)

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