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    7 Tips for Laying the Foundation for Software Products that Your Users Fall in Love With

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    Software Product

    Software products, whether they are desktop, web or mobile or Cloud applications, are impacting all the aspects of our personal and professional lives. Mobility, BI, Cloud Computing and Internet of Things are rapidly extending the traditional role of software products. It is becoming easier – and more financially feasible – to create software products that automate tasks at work, and in day-to-day lives.

    At Cygnet, our motto is “Use IT as an Enabler.” We strive to work on the bleeding edge of software product development, combining technologies, development approaches and innovation to build products that add real value to the lives of the end users.

    Over the years, we have seen that the most successful products are the ones that begin with a focus on the end users – their problems, their familiarity with using technology, their task requirements, behavior, and more. With this approach, the emphasis shifts from traditional engineering execution practices to focus on people, processes and communication.

    Here are seven things to keep in mind when you are working on building products that can excite your users.

    1. FOCUS on Empowering People

    Some of the best products ideas are born after perceiving specific user problems that can be solved through technology. Asking users for the problems they face is a good way of finding ideas that have chance of success in the market. The bottom line is you need to be certain that the product you are planning to build will empower a group of people by automating tasks, simplifying processes and increasing efficiency.

    2. Build more CLARITY about the PERSON

    Begin with a simple statement that gives an insight into the person your product will serve. For example, it could be:

    • "A Person unknown to the roads of the area, and driving the car alone" OR
    • "A Working Mother with a 6 months old Child" OR
    • "A Buyer looking for a Pre-owned Car" OR
    • “A Mining Supervisor Collecting Data in far flung locations” OR
    • “A Teacher who wants to Digitize Tests and Assignment submissions.”

    At this stage, you can try answering questions like:

        • How well-acquainted the PERSON is with technology,
        • what kinds of devices he or she is familiar with,
        • what his usual workday is like, what software or processes the people around this person are likely to use,
        • and how your product can interact with other products, hardware or software.

    3. BRAINSTORM each Small or Big Idea towards the FOCUS

    The above step will help you build a solid foundation for your BIG idea. With the focus area clear in your mind, it is time to brainstorm and flesh out the idea.

        • How will the product solve the problem the users are facing?
        • What core features and functionalities will your product need?
        • Which features will make the product even more appealing?

    Throughout the process, keep a clear picture of the PERSON you are serving, and the PROBLEM you are solving.

    4. EXPAND the Idea, VALIDATE your Assumptions

    This is where the real work starts. The above steps will help you define your focus area, but many of your ideas are based on assumptions about the users. To validate the idea, you will now need to talk to your potential end users.

    Conducting field studies and interviews with individuals that fit your end-user description is essential at this stage. This step will help you get a concrete idea of how (and whether) the product you are planning to build will add value to the lives of your targeted users.

    5. Identify whether you will need to build a Software, Utility or Service

    Once you get the answers to the questions of how the product adds value, it is time to determine what you need to build. In case you have envisioned an innovative product that requires changes at the process level in an organization, it is possible that you will have to offer some services in addition to building a product.

    For instance, Cygnet’s Product Team built an Ordering Solution that enables retailers to receive orders from customers. Customers simply scan QR codes, the orders are instantly visible on the backend. While the core product is the software, we realized that we needed to offer QR code printing, billing, payments, product uploading and several other services along with it to add solve the problems faced by retailers.

    So, you need to look into the future and see if you simply need to build a software product to solve the end user problems, or whether you also need to offer other services and utilities along with it to ensure success.

    6. EXPAND key STRENGTHS and FEATURES of your Product

    At this stage, you will have a high level of clarity on what the USP of your product is, and what core features and functionalities you will need to provide.

      • Explore various contexts in which the end users may access the product
      • Envision other scenarios where the product can be helpful
      • Create more user cases on the basis of interviews, field studies, and heuristic evaluations

    Using all the data, identify the core features that need to be strengthened, and find extra functionalities that can make the product more valuable to the users.

    7. Identify the right TECHNOLOGY

    The above steps will make it easy to create a functional specifications document. You may also have enough data to create a first-level project plan and schedule.

    If your potential customers use a specific technology, or if you excel in a specific technology, the decision may already be made for you. On the other hand, if you are creating an innovative product that can be supported only by a limited number of cutting edge tools and platforms, you must analyze the options to choose the most suitable.

    At the same time, it is essential to evaluate the expectations and habits of end users:

        • Level of security they will want
        • Types of devices they will use the software on
        • Integration capabilities the product must have
        • How much maintaining and support you will have to provide
        • What hardware needs to be supported
        • Budget for development and TCO

    Keeping these key factors in mind, you must research the available options, to identify the platforms and technologies that are most suitable to your project.

    Wrapping up: Don’t Lose the FOCUS

    Once you plunge into the process of PDLC, there’s a strong chance that the focus will shift towards traditional engineering processes, problems and solutions. At this stage, it is important not to lose focus. Make sure that your product is actually effective and useful for the end users by:

        • Building functional prototypes of different types at various stages and taking inputs from real users
        • Conducting user design survey at various stages to ensure that the UX is intuitive
        • Explore possibility of participatory design to ensure that user requirements are fulfilled completely

    We hope that this information helps you create high-performance products that make life easier for your users.

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