BUILDERS & STRATEGY: 2 of 3

Uncover value through testing

As builders, we make things for people. As product builders, we make things for people to use to fulfill specific needs and get to specific outcomes.

To design and build well, we have to understand the specific needs people have clearly. Only then can we experiment with what set of solutions will satisfy the need and get them to the outcome they’re looking to achieve.

If we fail to uncover the basic connection between a person and her need, it is very unlikely that any solution we prototype, test, or build will deliver the looked-for outcome. It is, of course, possible to get attention with an interesting brand or new technology application, but without helping a person achieve a result that she cares about achieving - a solution or product is doomed. The attention will fade and the solution will fall flat, folding in on its lack of value.

From a builder's perspective, it is relatively easy to avoid this lack of value trap if we start from the right place - defining who we are building for and what set of problems they have - before solutioning in design, code or even pushing deep into ideation.

And with that - just that one step of clarifying WHO has WHAT problem - we can confidently move into one of the most fun parts of building products - ideation.

Of course, “anyone” can define a target audience and problem to be solved but the best target audience and problem definitions come from deep observation and understanding of the problem area and the people who have this problem.

Often designers and engineers who have worked in a particular space have done this work as an integral part of designing and building past solutions and perhaps they have (unfortunately) been part of building solutions that did not tap into their observations and understanding. Non-builder subject matter experts who come from within an industry can also be deeply knowledgeable and empathetic when observing and understanding specific people's problems. Even more useful if they have had the experience of hands-on, manually servicing people whose problems are not being well-met by current solutions.

We highly recommend that when the specific problem and the specific person are defined, someone who is integrally involved in the ideation process has a deep understanding of this particular need for the person from directly observed experience.

The important takeaway is that focusing ideation on a deep understanding of the observed need is paramount. Once focused, there isn’t one best way to generate good ideas.

If you work in a company that uses design sprints, the above is the proper prep work to set the ideation phase of a traditional design sprint up for success. There are many different frameworks for ideation - our perspective is only that it be framed appropriately with expert observation and understanding taken into consideration:

Foundations is structured to not only capture the ideation outputs or the “sticky notes” of a brainstorming / ideation session:  

but to also help you group similar or duplicative ideas together

And finally, to curate and refine what starts as a set of similar ideas into a coherent message that expresses this idea’s value to real people.

Finally, we believe a picture is worth a thousand words and recommend including a relevant image when testing solution ideas. Our only requirement is that you use the same image that is broad enough for all solution ideas that you are testing  - this way you are sure it is the idea itself (not the image) that people are reacting favorably (or unfavorably) to. Here you set your font size and colors, and that single image for appealing but consistent testing.  

Zooming out, you now have a coherent set of ideas focused on solving the same problem for the same type of person.

You are now ready to test these ideas and see which ones resonate and which don’t. You can grab a link from Foundations and send it to your network via text, email, embedding in your social feed, or in a community like Slack or Discord.

Each person who clicks this link will see one of your ideas and be able to instantly tell you if they’re interested in it and why or why not:

Results of all your ideas will be aggregated and updated live.

If testing reveals that there is real interest in one or more solution ideas from real people we can feel confident moving forward with deepening the solution and moving into deeper design for monetization testing.

If early idea testing does not capture a clear interest signal and the appeal is not there, we save a tremendous amount of time and money not designing or developing something people don't want.

You can test your way of designing and developing solutions people are interested in using to solve problems they care about.

Foundations can help.

Start using Foundations for free now.