How to Build Products That People Will Buy

Market research and customer feedback are fundamental when building products that people will buy. This is especially true at the early stages of product development when determining whether or not a concept is viable and will meet consumer demand.

Building great products requires adding features that solve real user problems – not just lovely to-haves. This is why getting to a point where you can ask for feature requests from paying customers is essential.


Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

In many cases, the riskiest part of a new product is not its technology or market fit (will people use it and pay for it) but whether it will deliver customer value. To ensure that a new product will do just that, businesses can release a minimally viable version of their products to learn what features customers need and want.

An MVP is a product prototype built in stages, with each iteration testing and learning from user feedback. It prioritizes product requirements to include only those that deliver core functionality to deal with market problems; the remainder is considered “nice to have” features. It also identifies those features that are high resource, low reward, and should be delayed until the later phases of product development.

Create a Minimum Requirement Document (MRD)

An MRD captures market demands while connecting product strategy and opportunities. It can be a document, wiki, spreadsheet, unique software tool, or anything that works for your team.

An MRD sets the scope for what a product can do, like the Campus Apartments of David Adelman, and it helps teams prioritize work by identifying potential gaps in the market to fill. It should state personal problems in business terms and briefly describe the solution. A good MRD will be short – no more than a page or two. A longer MRD may be used in organizations that use a waterfall methodology. The MRD should precede and inform the PRD so it is clear what features are necessary to address market needs. The MRD should also describe the support needed for installation, repairs, payments, and product operations.

Create a Design Document

The first section of your design document should include the problem you’re trying to solve, why it’s essential, and how you intend to solve it. This should be enough information for someone who needs to learn the product to understand what you are trying to accomplish.

The following section should describe all the goals you are trying to achieve and the trade-offs you made in reaching those goals. This may include a list of alternative designs that could have reasonably achieved the same goals and why you selected your specific solution.

Finally, describe your plans for delivering the product and when. This should include a test schedule and a plan for post-project maintenance.

Build a User Interface (UI)

user interface (UI) is how users interact with a product or website. It includes everything from the screens and keyboards to the icons and visuals.

UI design is anticipating what a user might need to do and creating a set of interface elements that facilitate those actions. This includes providing feedback and responses to user actions, designing for responsiveness, and ensuring the UI follows accessibility guidelines and principles.

It’s also vital to build exploration into the UI design process to allow teams to discover new elements that can make their products stand out from the competition. However, consistency is vital. Ensure that common elements like buttons and pinch zoom behave similarly and provide logical next steps for users.