Having recently come up with an idea for a new product, I was keen to determine if my idea is worth further developing. I wanted to know whether time, energy and money is being expended on an idea with merit. The discussion notes below would be of interest to anyone who is currently developing, or planning to develop a new product idea.
– Ensure your product is delivering significant value to fulfil a major problem/need for the user
– Identify as early as possible, any major problems and uncertainties with your idea
– Some methods to accomplish the above two: Research, prototype, test
The discussion began with defining the word “validate”. The word “validate” refers to taking action(s) to ascertain that an idea has value to users OR to ascertain that your idea is effective at fulfilling its function.
Interestingly, we also discussed how to “invalidate” an idea. Metaphorically, we can think of it as searching for the “kill switch” of an idea. A “kill switch” is a major uncertainty/problem in the idea that has a significant impact on the adoption/use of your product. If a “kill switch” is found, then your idea may need to be changed significantly, or it may not be worth further development.
But how do you identify key problems / uncertainties with your idea? After all, we usually think our own ideas are great, and are blind to its limitations. This is where it is useful to employ research and prototyping methods.
The following research and prototyping methods were discussed:
– Gather honest reactions/feedback by talking to others about your idea
– Research alternatives that users value and compare it with your idea, read reviews etc.
– Create a prototype (low or high fidelity)
– Observe users using your prototype / competing product
– Close group testing (test with a small, diverse group of end-users)
– Guerilla testing
– Surveys (take care?how the survey questions are posed)
– Talk to all key stakeholders
Examples of outcomes from prototyping and research:
– Identify obstacles in the competitive landscape
– Discover uncertainties that users have about your product
– Discover problems that users face when using your product
The findings could throw up a “kill-switch” that lets you decide whether to further pursue an idea.
Ways to make validate idea quickly / early in product development:
– Do a Sprint
– Set a deadline
– Start listing your assumptions/uncertainties as early as possible in the product development
– Put up your early-stage project on a crowdfunding site
On the whole, there is no one quick-and-easy formula or process to validate an idea. Still, using just a few of the methods outlined above can be extremely insightful. And while we mainly discussed the tools familiar with the design and UX community, there are also business tools (such as Business Model Canvas, doing pre-sales, etc.) to develop and validate the business-potential of an idea that might be interesting to consider.