Also a brief about Product Spec.
You have an idea have done a validation test now you think of developing it with your team. The first most important thing is to write a spec or simply put what is the product, why it is here, and what it will do.
I think the first step should be to write a high level document on the goal/vision of what you want to do. What is your product and why you should build it. Briefly describe your competitors. A very good starting point will be the Product Hunt spec. It is simple to the point and covers everything your team should understand before getting into this.
Later you can deep dive with a spec for every feature. This will define feature in detail. Please note these documents are never complete, they are always evolving and should be updated everyday at best or alternate days, also should be reviewed once a week. These are ongoing documents and will have a long life.
Once you are done with the Product Spec the second most important question is “How do you prioritise which feature to implement”?
There are very good resources available that you can use to start and later tweak based on what works for you and your team. I really admire the answer given on Quora especially by Ian McAllister. We used it to begin with and later tweaked to meet our requirements.
This is what we did:
Step 1: We started with defining “What is the core value of our product”.
We begin with the basic value of our product. in our case the basic or the core value the product delivers is that it helps user to sell. So every feature should boil down to help this happen.
Step 2: Define your goals- quarterly, 6 months etc. If you are a startup which has just launched a product quarter goals might fit best.
Our goal was to first get customers who will download the app, sign up and use once. Simply put we needed customer acquisition, customer activation and retention precisely in that order. So we needed to take actions to achieve these 3 goals. I would rather say the top 2 goals. I would worry about retention later :).
- Customer Acquisition- This was the most important thing. And hence every feature we decided to include would help in customer acquisition.
- Customer Activation- It was important for user to sign up and once see the app.
Now you have to be smart enough to see what works for you. In our case we had to acquire a user and make them sign up. Both the steps were important and hence guided our decision on what feature to have.
For example- In our app user had to Sign Up via email or login in the app even before they can see any stuff. It seemed to be a deterrent. Signing up from email is clumsy and everyone does not prefer using their FaceBook accounts to sign up on new apps. Also once you sign up you will have to select a category for e.g. books, jewellery, kids etc. to finally browse some products. It’s actually more than 2 steps.
Hence we decide to get away with the Sign Up and then placing category differently so that user can simply open the app and browse products.
Step 3: Evaluate the cost i.e. the time and resources it will take to implement the feature or change and what is the ROI (return on investment). And if you can further break down the features to manage the cost.
In our case it would take 3–4 (or more) days to remove login and place it at other interaction points (and test it) but removing category was easy.
So the decision was simple remove category first and then login. It actually reduces one step for user.
Step 4: Define what is success. You have to be very clear on this one. What result would mean that your product feature or change is successful. This will depend on your product and your current status. What metrics will be directly affected by your goal. And how much it should increase/decrease for your to declare the feature addition/change as success. Also use good analytics tool from the beginning.
In our case the metrics that was directly getting effected by the goal is number of Users. And we would want to see a it grow by atleast 5% in 3–4 weeks. You might have to tweak the timeline for your business.
Step 5: Results- See if feature change or addition was a failure or success. And also if the approach works for you. And if it was a failure be brave and accept it, then learn from it and move on. If successful don’t go and celebrate make it even more better!!