Drive Growth By Building Beautiful Products

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Stuart McKeown’s Picture

Stuart McKeown

Explore ways that businesses build unique product experiences to drive growth & sales.

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In this post we’re exploring the natural effect that building an awesome product can have on your growth.

What Defines a Great Product?

There’s a number of characteristics of a great product:

  • Users love it
  • It does something unique or something new
  • The features outmatch any competitor
  • Intuitive & easy to use
  • Services a very specific need (or niche)
  • Automates mundane tasks for people (saves them time)
  • Makes doing a particular task fun
  • Connects realms of your digital life together

Users Love It

In today’s modern world there’s hundreds of businesses trying to achieve similar goals, with similar products. You only have to look at how Apple has turned the computer market on its head by focusing on great design principles to see how you can twist a particular concept into something unique & compelling.

There’s a particular quote from Sean Ellis that stuck in my mind recently:

@SeanEllis - Half the marketing battle is the product.

If you get people to love your product then you’ve already won the majority of the battle, these users will end up being your salesforce – driving the growth of the product through word of mouth & referrals.

A great example of this is the Morph Suit, a product from the UK that allows you to wear a full body suit that effectively turns you into Morph (a character from the old Art Attack series on BBC TV).

Morph Suit

What’s interesting about this particular product is that it’s:

Simple: It’s a simple product, just a 1 piece suit. But it just works as intended.

Unique: Nothing else like this existed previously.

Relatable: People in the UK could relate to the product as they probably grew up watching Tony Hart on TV.

Customizable: Get it in your favourite colors.

Fun: Wearing these suits is incredibly fun, people have no idea who you are & you’ll draw a lot of attention to yourself.

Viral: This is the sort of product that people want when they see pictures of people wearing it. The product itself has become pretty popular with Halloween, bachelor parties etc.

It Does Something Unique or Something New

Many larger companies will simply race to match all the features of their competitors, so when it comes to large pitches the features stack up on paper. However in a non-enterprize scenario you will more than likely never be able to play catchup.

You have two options, you can take one feature & do it better than anyone else. Or you can come up with something completely unique & new that no-one else in the marketplace is currently doing.

Take a service like GetVero (also from Australia), they essentially are an email startup. But not in the traditional sense, they allow you to send emails to people based on triggers that you set in your app. This is incredibly powerful for a number of reasons:

  • You send more targeted emails rather than huge amounts of volume.
  • Customers get a more relevant & timely message.
  • You can use email as an urgency tool, rather than a broadcast tool.
  • You can test multiple messages for each touchpoint to see what works.
GetVero

If you take a product like Instagram, they were the first to create some simple filters over the top of the photo sharing graph. Whilst their product wasn’t complicated & the filters weren’t hard to replicate the fact that they were first to market with near perfect execution meant they kept a strong foothold as a leader in the photo sharing space.

Instagram Presets

That Killer Feature

You may be able to build a product that has one insanely killer feature that your competition just can’t copy – or at least would have to invest millions of dollars to think about copying.

There’s plenty of companies out there that have something like this:

  • The Coca-Cola Recipe
  • The KFC Recipe
  • Google’s Search Algorithms
  • Evernote’s OCR Technology
  • Dropbox’s Multi-Platform File Sync

These sorts of features make your company more valuable as an acquisition target. Especially if you have patents.

Build Less

On the flip side, in the book “Getting Real” by 37 Signals they recommend doing the complete opposite.

Building less features allows you to focus on having some features that are amazing, rather than lots of features that are average.

The leaner you are the easier it is to adapt & change, it allows you the flexibility to make the right decisions.

Intuitive & Easy to Use

Make your product intuitive for users, people don’t like complex software that is painful to use. Emphasize the features that are important.

The example below shows you how Freshbooks emphasizes their New Invoice button over everything else on the page – since that’s the action they want you to take:

Freshbooks

Services a Very Specific Need (or Niche)

Not everyone has the sample problem, therefore there’s plenty of niche opportunities out there to service someones needs with a product.

Take Alex Adnon from Jellyfish Art for example. He created an entire niche of his own out of the idea that you could keep an Immortal Jellyfish in a specially designed tank.

Jellyfish Art

Automates Mundane Tasks For People (Saves Them Time)

Users love applications that can help them automate a specific task or set of tasks, therefore making them more productive.

I came across such a product earlier, that is so simple yet so satisfying to use. GrabBox.

When working with John we often share screenshots, I also often take a lot of screenshots to use in this blog. Sharing a screenshot used to be a painful process:

  • CMD+Shift+4 to select the area.
  • Navigate to desktop
  • Rename file
  • Move to Dropbox Public Folder
  • Right click on file to copy public link
  • Share public link in Hipchat

GrabBox automates the majority of this process now for me, I simply take the photo using CMD+Shift+4 then all I need to do is paste the public URL link from the clipboard. Such a simple idea, but makes me so happy.

GrabBox

Makes Doing a Particular Task Fun

Games are a perfect example of this mechanic, they take what is generally a mundane task (like farming coins) & turn it into a fun experience through gamification or reward.

Gamification Badges

Connects Realms of Your Digital Life Together

We all use multiple operating systems, clients, platforms, websites & social networks to manage all of our information. But even with all these disparate data stores we still strive to have everything in the one place.

Dropbox Logo

Consider products like Dropbox or Evernote. Dropbox allows me to keep in sync aspects of my life (across multiple platforms) that would otherwise been a complete nightmare to manage on my own. It’s saved my ass multiple times after the SSD has failed in my iMac, and it JUST WORKS.

Evernote allows me to keep all of my notes, memos, photos & even bills in the one place. Accessible from anywhere.

Go one step further with a service like Zapier that allows you to send data between applications based on certain triggers.

Zapier

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