We’ve said it before and we will say it again and again and again: here at Amilia we have an amazing team of developers who are constantly hard at work upgrading and improving the platform and working on new features, products and modules intended to delight our customers and attract new ones. We are striving to have the most complete platform on the market so you have all the tools you need under one roof.
Developing new features take a lot of time and resources so missing the mark is at best a disappointment and at worst a disaster. So how do we ensure the tools we deliver are actually the tools you need? How do we make sure they're intuitive and easy to use?
We’ve developed a 7 step User Experience (UX)/Product Management Strategy to guide us and the number 1 component to this strategy is YOU!
So how do we do it?
1. Make a hypothesis about the problem.
We don’t always know what you want or need in terms of features, but by listening to your day to day problems and understanding your pain points, we can develop a hypothesis about the problem. With that hypothesis we can define our product goal by your needs. In other words, what are we trying to solve? And what are the benefits you can expect from what we offer you?
2. Create Personas
Who are we developing this product for? This is a key aspect of our product development and is it always top of our mind throughout the development cycle. These are the questions we are constantly asking:
Who is he/she?
What do they need?
Where does their day look like?
What keeps them up at night?
From this we can create provisional personas based on our assumptions.
3. Validate/invalidate the value proposition with interviews
We can’t just start building something because we think you need it. We aren’t the ones using the product on a day to day basis. We need to make sure our hypothesis is correct. At this stage we:
Conduct customer discovery to validate or invalidate our solution’s initial value proposition. In other words, we start interviewing our clients and potential clients to see if what we think is correct.
Then we reassess the hypothesis based on what we’ve learned.
We go through this process over and over until we have product/market fit that’s viable and can move to the next stage.
4. Competitive analysis
At this stage we do a ton of research and ask the following questions:
Have our competitors already created a product to solve for this problem?
If they have, is it successful? Could we improve upon their solution?
If they haven’t perhaps an indirect competitor like shopify, or salesforce, or even airbnb created something that might solve this problem. Seriously, we look everywhere and all ideas are explored.
If we find something that might solve for this problem, we then look at the strengths and weakness of their product. What are their product/solution strengths? Where are their weaknesses? And where can we improve upon what’s already out there.
Depending upon the size of the project, our findings are often presented to the entire Amilia team to ensure we don’t repeat mistakes but instead make good ideas better.
5. User stories & storyboarding
We want to make sure that the features we build solve your problem and help simplify your day. Every business is different and the way they use our features vary, so we need to make sure our features have the flexibility and scope to meet your needs.
With storyboarding we write quick user stories with mock-ups of the new feature. We work to make them clear, concise, and focused. We do this to get an idea of the whole feature in action before writing any code. This way we can identify some problems right away and correct them.
We then create mock-ups of each step, and start user testing with these mock-ups or prototypes.
When our storyboarding is done, we make a prototype. Using either mock-ups, screenshots or dummy code, we can validate that the feature works well and is easy to use by an actual user. It doesn’t have to be complex, it can be a PowerPoint presentation where the user “fakes” clicking to go to the next slide. Then, we find actual clients to test our prototype and talk us through what they like, what they don’t like, how they would use our new feature. Again, we’re gathering tons of valuable information before even writing a single line of code.
This stage is key and we go through multiple iterations until we’ve got it right, and only then do we start the final stage.
Once all of the above steps have been completed to everyone’s satisfaction (by that we mean you the client) the build stage begins. Within the build stage there is even more testing and then we release a beta version, which means it’s still not done but is a viable product good enough to start using for the early adopters or those with an adventurous spirit willing to help us work out some bugs. It isn’t until we feel product is complete that we can remove the beta designation.
Just for a little perspective here, Gmail was in beta for 5 years and it was awesome throughout that beta stage to the point that the beta tag became quite the running joke. We aren’t Google but when we do a beta release we have enough faith in the product that the only issues are minor ones.
To conclude - if you’ve made it through this massive explanation… there is a lot that goes into our product development cycle but it is the only way we can ensure the features we build are worth the effort. We are striving to build features that are better solutions to your problems and pain points than you could have ever dreamed. This is the number one reason why our development team at Amilia is by far the biggest department - seriously, we are kinda lonely over here in marketing but we will never complain because we are proud of the Amilia platform and excited for what’s to come. Plus, it’s way easier to market an awesome product that delights our clients.
Finally, if you didn’t already notice, the number one ingredient to the success of anything we build is YOU.
YOU. YOU. YOU!
So please, let us know what your pain points are, what keeps you up at night, what takes you away from you mission or your raison d'etre. We are here and we are listening: CustomerSuccess@amilia.com