Make Your Business Profitable: Compressing the Product Design and Development Cycle

Andy Hilliard

Andy Hilliard

May 26, 2016 | Accelerance Blog

UI and UX design Today, the quality of your product isn’t the only thing that is going to help you accumulate more business—it’s just as important to remain focused on the customer experience. Because of this, many businesses need to rethink their current approach to product and service design. Developing a tighter link between design user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) and development, such as Agile and minimum viable product (MVP), can improve efficiencies in terms of expending less labor and more quickly deploying a revenue-generating product.

As pressure to generate revenue increases, companies are being forced to shorten the design development cycle of their software. Marrying design with MVP development is a natural way to accomplish this and makes intuitive sense. For a product to be successful, good design and user-friendliness needs to be embedded in its DNA. Here are more details on the pieces of the process, as well as how to ensure each step goes smoothly along the way, particularly when working with outsourced developers.


The Importance of UX When Designing an MVP         

Countless products are released into the marketplace every day, which is why it is especially crucial for designers to stay up-to-date on design and development processes. For many top engineering teams, this means embracing the Agile software development approach. So, why aren’t more design teams also employing a Lean UX design process and combining their design and development cycles? Taking this extra step and joining Lean and Agile UX when designing an MVP can make a dramatic difference in the finishes product

When debating design concerns against the necessity to have an MVP in the marketplace, it’s important to find a balance that works for your service or product. UX involves the ways in which people will use your product, what they’ll experience while they use it, and how they’ll perceive those experiences. Frankly, if the UX is underwhelming, people won’t want to use what you’re developing. You must have a visually appealing, user-friendly design to make a significant profit and increase your customer base.

Embracing practices that elevate the customer experience will help produce a return on investment, as well as provide a steady foundation for your brand. Plus, research shows that brands that focus on customer experience are reaping the benefits. According to a Forrester report, satisfying customer experiences can lead to customers’ willingness to repurchase from the current provider, reluctance to switch from the established company and a likelihood to recommend to others.


What Is an MVP and Why Do You Need One?

There’s hardly a question that UX and UI design is vital to your business’ success; however to collect revenue in a timely manner, it is advantageous to accelerate this process by combining development and design.

In product development, the MVP is a form of new product that has just the right amount of features to deliver the most value and gather the most valuable information about potential customers as possible. It will also offer you insights into how to continue to develop the product with the least amount of effort. In addition, collecting insights from an MVP is often less expensive than using a product with more features, as spending more time and effort designing and deploying a more involved product will not only increase costs, it also increases the and risks that it might fail.

Some UX designers are confused about the idea of an MVP, however, and have difficulty just trying to wrap their heads around the concept. You’ve likely heard about an MVP before; it’s essentially a preliminary idea that provides the shortest path to validated learning. This focus on learning is a major break from traditional UX design practices, which usually focus on features and feature sets.

Your software development team should start by gaining a general understanding of the MVP concept, but the team should eventually have a well-rounded understanding of its components in order to more effectively design your MVP. While the traditional UX model enables us to think about a product’s design in its entirety, Lean’s more recent UX practices leave room for any inevitable change in plans. Similar to this approach, MVPs will allow you to take measured steps that can easily change according to what is learned through the repeated testing process.


The Phases of MVP Development

The intention of an MVP is to learn and validate (or invalidate) current assumptions. Essentially, MVPs embody all of the best practices connected with Agile and UX. An MVP includes a prediction, a simple design that will test the prediction, a fast test that will reveal if the prediction was correct and the test results.

During phase one, the prediction or hypothesis phase, you set forth what you think the future holds for your yet-to-be-built product, which should address a need or desire that people have. Products and services are almost always most successful when you’re fulfilling an existing need rather than creating a need for a novelty item. Your team should then deliberate on how much you think people will pay for it.

In the second phase, you will design something to test your prediction. This could be the actual product design, although you don’t exactly have to put a huge focus on product features just yet. While building your MVP, it is essential to focus on core functionalities. You don’t want to realize halfway through this phase that the product features you’ve created will not actually serve the purpose of your final product.

This factor is often why MVPs can be so difficult for traditional UX designers. You want to be sure to design a test that will enable you to gather actual metrics. These metrics will inform you about the accuracy of your prediction.

For the third phase, you should begin setting up your MVP right away for it to be profitable. The more time it takes to complete, the less valuable it will become. This is when all of the lighter Agile UX practices become so important. These are the tools that will help you to finish your MVP in hours or days rather than weeks or months.

The last phase of building an MVP includes gathering the results of your test. Using this information, you’ll be able to find to what degree your hypothesis was correct. You want to learn whether or not this product will solve the problem you thought existed. A simple prototype or paper model of your product might be beneficial in the early phases to get user feedback, but you’ll eventually need to create something more physical. You’ll want to build something that potential customers can actually use or sign up for because this will be a much better measurement of the value of your idea.

Basically, MVPs are the best of both worlds of Agile and Lean UX. This combination of the two methods’ best practices includes an emphasis on collaboration and delivery, as well as evaluating and confirming product/market fit. These are great practices to implement with your entire team. It is also important to note that the ability for UX designers to design effectively for MVPs is an especially good measure of general skill level.

Reap the Benefits of Both Agile and UX Development

Agile development has captured the imagination of many software development teams recently and with good reason—its emphasis on producing functioning software quickly is well suited to today’s fast-paced marketplace. It is increasingly important in this day and age to develop innovative web applications that help you improve the customer experience, reduce costs and time to market. This will help you develop secure and scalable web applications with intuitive UIs and combine intuitive UI designs with insightful branding, all to provide a great UX.

But how do you begin the process of combining Agile with UX so that you can take advantage of the benefits of both approaches? They should work well together because both philosophies incorporate testing with users and product refinement. What you must remember is that there isn’t just one correct way to design an MVP. It is truly a craft, and you’ll likely employ a variety of strategies. In combination, Agile, UX and UI approaches really can offer the substantial benefits, resulting in the rapid delivery of digital products that users love.

Because good design is good for business, you should strive to build beautiful experiences for your users, and in effect, your bottom line will significantly benefit.

It is important to have software developers who are up-to-date and flexible in this ever-changing business and technology environment. We believe that being able to build MVPs is one of the most indispensable skills for an aspiring Agile or Lean UX designer to strive for. The ecosystem of Accelerance Certified Expert (ACE) partners includes software development companies that all work in Agile mode and are comfortable with Lean design and MVPs. We also have a number of partners that focus on UI/UX design and can assist you in all areas of developing quality software.

Contact Accelerance today to get started on combining your design and development to accelerate your next project!

Andy Hilliard

Andy Hilliard

As CEO, Andy leads and advocates for the globalization and collaboration of great software teams with companies in search of talent, innovation and a globally-distributed extension of their engineering function and culture. Andy founded the ground-breaking nearshore software development services company, Isthmus Costa Rica. He began his global software services career as a division manager at Cognizant during their early formative years.

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