January 02, 2024
A Roadmap to Solving 3 Types of Impactful Product Development Problems
This guide summarizes the trends from reputable reports Forrester Digital Experience Report, Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms, and The McKinsey Digital Quotient Report and Artkai's eight years of experience. With over 100 products in our portfolio, we’ve gained solid expertise and many insights and want to share them with you.
We have created a list of common problems we faced, described all the associated risks, and discussed ways to solve those problems. Now, Artkai shares our tips and best practices in this guide.
This material will benefit:
- C-level executives,
- Heads of various departments,
- Senior Product Managers.
We have divided all the problems into three clusters:
- New/Old feature issues
- Scalability problems
Let’s delve into each cluster and see what risks they hold and how to avoid them.
Businesses who neglect issues within the CX/User-Related Cluster can face:
- a drop in user engagement and acquisition,
- decreased customer loyalty,
- a high churn rate,
- reduced conversion rates,
- negative reviews and reputation damage,
- potential revenue loss.
Furthermore, companies risk losing their competitive edge and misallocating resources by not adapting quickly, which can be detrimental in a saturated market.
Eight key problems and how to solve them
|Poor User Experience and UI/UX Design
|Non-intuitive, too complex, and non-user-focused design can negatively affect users in many ways (conversions, customer churn, reduced customer lifetime value, etc.), directly impacting revenue and giving competitors an edge in attracting disillusioned customers. It can also harm the brand and the product reputation.
|- Regularly conduct UX reviews with real users.
- Invest in design thinking workshops.
- Seek professional UI/UX design services to ensure that industry best practices are met.
|Lack of User-Centric Features
|Without features tailored to user needs, the product is at risk of becoming generic, potentially losing its unique value proposition. It could result in decreased usage, higher churn rates, and difficulty attracting new customers.
|- Gather user feedback via surveys and focus groups.
- Develop a product roadmap, prioritizing features that address genuine user needs and pain points.
|Poor/Outdated Look & Feel
|An archaic appearance, characterized by inconsistency, outdated design, and bad aesthetics, can diminish user trust, as people might perceive the product as neglectful or lagging in technology. Users can perceive the brand as outdated compared to competitors. This can reduce user adoption and even affect partnerships with modern businesses.
|- Conduct market and competitor research on the latest design trends and best UX and UI practices.
- Collaborate with professional design agencies to do a product facelift and consistently maintain brand identity.
|Inconsistent User Experience Across Platforms And Devices
|Users expect a consistent product experience, regardless of the device or platform. Inconsistencies can lead to user frustration, negative reviews, and reduced usage frequency.
|- Standardize design systems and UI components.
- Regularly test on different devices and browsers, addressing any disparities in user experience.
|Poor Mobile Experience
|As mobile usage continues to rise, a subpar mobile experience can exclude a large segment of potential users. Users expect seamless cross-platform interaction, and failure to deliver can result in lost business opportunities.
|- Develop responsive designs, or PWA (Progressive Web Apps).
|Difficulty In Retaining And Increasing User Engagement
|If users aren't consistently engaged, they might drift towards competitors, reducing customer lifetime value and overall revenue potential.
|- Implement personalized user journeys.
- Consider gamification strategies, loyalty rewards, or community-building activities to retain user interest.
|Poor / Inadequate Onboarding Process
|Lack of proper user onboarding can leave users feeling lost or unsure about product features. It causes low adoption rates, user frustration, and reduced customer retention, hindering the product's growth and success.
|- Design a step-by-step interactive onboarding process.
- Utilize tooltips, videos, and walkthroughs to guide users. • Collect and iterate based on feedback. Make it as simple as possible.
|Lack of Customer-Centric and Data-Driven Approach
|The company might make decisions based on internal assumptions rather than customer needs and feedback that misalign with user expectations. It could result in product features that are seldom used or unnecessary, wasting resources and potentially confusing users.
|- Regularly analyze user behavior using analytics tools.
- Set up a feedback loop with users.
- Use a data-driven approach in design & development.
Best practices we apply to solve these problems
- UX & CX Excellence: Our methods, certified by the distinguished NN/g, ensure our designs and strategies meet global excellence standards.
- Data-Driven Decision-Making: We value data when making decisions, ensuring every pivotal step is based on practical evidence.
- User-Centric Focus: Users remain at the core of our strategies, guaranteeing that every interaction point is tailored to their genuine needs.
- Real User Problem Analysis: We dedicate our efforts to grasping users' tangible challenges, enabling us to craft tailored solutions.
- Feedback Analysis: Consistent scrutiny of user feedback offers clarity on enhancement areas and steers iterative improvement.
- Hypothesis Testing: Before major rollouts, we thoroughly verify our hypotheses, double-checking their alignment with user expectations and corporate goals.
- Competitor and Market Trend Analysis: We continually monitor the market and competitor actions to be ready to cater to user requirements and maintain our lead.
By following these best practices on a daily basis, we tackle challenges within the CX/User Related Cluster and support businesses in delivering unmatched user experiences, nurturing fidelity, and stimulating growth.
Problems related to new/old features
Developing and managing a successful product requires balancing between refining existing features and releasing new ones. It can challenging as it often involves addressing current issues, which can lead to:
- delayed time to market,
- stagnant/slow growth,
- high operational costs,
- inability to adapt to rapid changes.
To address these challenges, teams should use comprehensive analytics and data-driven approaches to decision-making, ensuring that feature updates and new releases align with market needs. Additionally, maintaining clear and up-to-date project documentation can significantly streamline development processes and ensure alignment across the internal team.
Seven core problems and their solutions
|Balancing New and Old Features
|Due to limited resources and conflicting priorities, balancing building new features and maintaining existing ones can cause delays in delivery, suboptimal product quality, compromised user experience, and, as a result, customer dissatisfaction and increased churn.
|- Employ a data-driven approach to prioritize features based on user needs and feedback.
- Maintain a clear product roadmap and review it periodically with stakeholder input.
- Outsource part of the development of the features to an independent external team, making more internal resources available for the most critical tasks.
|Resistance to Change Internally
|Internal teams might resist updates or changes due to familiarity with older systems. It can delay deployments and reduce the agility of the product development cycle.
|- Implement training sessions and innovation workshops to bring internal teams up to speed.
- Foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptation.
- Engage with external innovation experts to get alternative, non-biased points of view and suggestions.
|Feature Bloat & Overcomplication
|Adding many features but not integrating them properly can overwhelm users and complicate the UI. It can reduce user satisfaction and increase the learning curve, potentially turning new users away.
|- Conduct regular UX audits and streamline features based on actual usage data.
- Consider modular designs or feature toggling to provide personalized experiences.
|Lack of analytics and user Feedback
|Without a clear feedback mechanism, it's challenging to understand which features users value. This can lead to misaligned product updates and wasted development efforts.
|- Set up effective analytics and user tracking, feedback sessions, user surveys, and beta testing groups.
- Study your users and prioritize features based on their behavior and needs.
|Inadequate or outdated project documentation can hinder onboarding new team members, slowing operations and feature development speed.
|- Maintain a dynamic documentation repository.
- Utilize platforms like Confluence.
- Ensure that with every feature update, corresponding documentation is also updated.
- Organize an internal onboarding process for new team members to guide them through complex functionalities.
|Additional Resources Required Temporarily for Certain Features
|Sometimes, it can be a challenge to use temporary team extensions for feature releases. Scaling down the team after the task is complete and features have been released can be painful due to the layoff process, social payments, and other risks. Finding, recruiting, and laying off internal resources for temporary tasks can take too much time and budget.
|- Plan feature releases well in advance, considering the holistic resource requirements.
- Explore partnerships to enable the temporary hiring of specialized talent for such situations.
|Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD)
|Failure to implement efficient CI/CD practices can lead to longer deployment cycles, increased errors in production, and slower response to market changes.
|- Adopt CI/CD tools like Jenkins, Travis CI, or CircleCI.
- Ensure automated testing is in place, and promote a culture of frequent, more minor releases.
- Regularly review and refine the CI/CD pipeline for optimizations.
Our best practices to help solve these problems
- Autonomous Teams: We champion the independence of our teams, ensuring they work autonomously. This approach boosts efficiency and promotes innovation.
- Dedicated PM Allocation: To ensure our clients spend minimal time on team onboarding and management, we assign dedicated Project Managers. This fosters seamless integration of our teams with the client's workflows.
- Structured Work Approach: Our core focus is to augment your team's capacity, not burden it. We meticulously structure our tasks to liberate client resources, allowing them to concentrate on their primary roles.
- Plug&Play Team Management: Leveraging our vast experience, we've refined a Plug&Play team management methodology, ensuring swift onboarding and immediate productivity.
- Hypothesis Validation: Before diving into development, we employ rigorous processes to validate hypotheses. We ensure alignment between business objectives and development goals through technical discoveries and prototyping.
- Agile & Efficient: The absence of bureaucratic blockers in our teams ensures prompt decisions. Our streamlined, no-red-tape processes enable us to act swiftly, ensuring that your product remains agile and responsive to market demands.
Product scalability is crucial for business growth. As products expand, technical, operational, and financial aspects introduce many challenges. If you ignore scalability issues, you may also face the following problems:
- missed revenue & upselling opportunities,
- decreasing sales & revenues,
- inability to maintain competitive prices.
To navigate these challenges, businesses must prioritize software stack and infrastructure audits, refactor code to reduce technical debt, and update the codebase. Also, invest in hiring a professional workforce and engage with scalability experts or specialized firms for smooth scaling.
Nine main problems and effective solutions
|Legacy Systems & Technical Debt
|Businesses with older digital products may face scalability issues due to outdated code systems that are not optimized for modern infrastructures and integration with new tools and platforms. Additionally, legacy code can cause problems with maintainability, support costs, delays in new feature releases and necessary updates, and overall system efficiency.
|- Start a phased approach to getting rid of legacy systems and refactoring code to reduce technical debt and modernize the codebase. This could involve architecture audits, rewriting critical sections of the solution in a modern language or framework, ensuring that new code adheres to current best practices, and gradually phasing out dependencies on outdated technologies.
- Consider breaking down the monolithic product architecture into microservices or cloud-based solutions to enhance scalability and maintainability. It should be done in iterations, allowing the business to keep working and achieving its goals without the development team blocking it.
|Scaling MVP to Full-Fledged Product
|Startups often begin with an MVP to test the market and gather further funding. As these startups grow, there's a need to scale the MVP into a complex, feature-rich product. The MVP is often built with shortcuts and temporary solutions unsuitable for large-scale use.Initial infrastructure might not support the increased load, leading to performance and reliability issues. The shift could also strain resources regarding finances and staffing, making maintaining the product's quality while scaling challenging.
|- Perform a comprehensive audit of the MVP architecture and codebase.
- Identify potential bottlenecks and weak points.
- Develop a roadmap that prioritizes critical updates, ensuring infrastructure is robust enough to handle increased traffic.
- Conduct rigorous testing, particularly load and stress tests, to simulate increased user loads.
- Finally, secure additional funding or resources to manage the transition smoothly.
- Ensure the in-house team is manageable during this critical phase or seek assistance from a development partner with a scaling specialization.
|Traditional architectures might not efficiently support the growing number of users, leading to performance issues, downtimes, and a negative user experience.
|- Transition to cloud-based solutions like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud. Consider implementing microservices architecture to ensure components can scale independently.
|As the product grows, legacy code or “quick fixes” can become bottlenecks, affecting performance and increasing the difficulty of adding new features.
|- Regularly refactor and optimize the code. Invest in code reviews and audits, and consider implementing coding standards to maintain a clean and efficient codebase.
|A non-scalable database can become a significant bottleneck, causing slow response times and potential data losses.
|- Consider distributed databases like Cassandra or MongoDB.
- Implement caching solutions like Redis to improve response times.
|Customer Support Challenges & Cost
|As products become more complex and the user base grows, customer support costs and inquiries increase exponentially. Inefficient customer support can increase churn rates, damage brand reputation, and drain additional resources.
|- Implement automated support systems and scalable tools such as chatbots or AI assistance to handle routine queries.
- Utilize platforms like Zendesk or Freshdesk for efficient ticket management.
- Enhance user onboarding and improve product CX to reduce errors and support inquiries.
|Big Licensing Costs
|As a product scales, businesses may need to invest in expensive software tools or platforms. These costs can quickly accumulate, especially if the company needs to optimize its software stack or discovers overlapping functionalities across tools.
|- Continually review and audit the software stack.
- Opt for open-source alternatives where possible.
- Negotiate bulk or long-term licensing agreements to secure better rates.
- Consider the MACH development stack (Microservices Architecture, API-First Approach, Cloud-Native Infrastructure, Headless Architecture) combined with Custom Development. Custom software solutions that, while initially more costly, can be more cost-effective in the long run.
|Integration with Third-Party Services
|Integrating with third-party services for payment gateways, analytics, or other functionalities can be complex as products become more diverse. This can lead to inefficiencies, data silos, and system vulnerabilities.
|- Plan integrations meticulously, ensuring compatibility and security.
- Use established integration platforms or middleware solutions like Zapier.
- Regularly review and update integrations to keep them optimized and secure.
|Lack of Inhouse Expertise, Recruitment and Talent Retention
|Scaling often requires adopting new technologies or methodologies, which may slow down efforts, lead to suboptimal decisions, or introduce vulnerabilities due to a lack of knowledge. Attracting and retaining top talent can be challenging, mainly when larger companies offer more attractive compensation packages and benefits. New hires require resources to cover recruiting fees, social payments, and taxes, complicating the dismissal process in case of team reduction.
|- Invest in training and development for the in-house team.
- Consider hiring specialists or consultants to tackle particular scaling challenges.
- Alternatively, partner with companies specializing in scalability to leverage their expertise.
How we manage and solve these problems:
- Holistic Approach: We put a priority on understanding the intricate dependencies that can exist between product components, infrastructure, technical requirements, and customer-facing elements.
- Iterative Model: Our flexibility is evident in our iterative approach. We prototype, test, and then implement, allowing product enhancements to be executed step-by-step in parallel, ensuring business continuity isn't disrupted.
- Balancing Scalability with Support: One of our guiding principles is to ensure that products remain easy to support as they scale.
- Broad Focus: Our strategy transcends merely addressing isolated technical issues. Instead, we focus on resolving overarching business challenges.
- Team Flexibility: Our client-centric model offers the unique advantage of quickly scaling teams up or down to align with current business goals and challenges.
- Enterprise Experience: With extensive experience working with businesses of various sizes, we understand and adapt to challenges with the unique internal processes of each different enterprise.
- Strategic Partnerships: We immerse ourselves in our client's business strategies more than a simple vendor. We work proactively, aligning with their goals and vision, aiming to aid them in achieving their strategic objectives.
In the digital-centric ecosystem of modern business, identifying and promptly addressing challenges is paramount. Each moment these issues persist, they erode essential business metrics, affecting the immediate bottom line and long-term viability.
We're talking about fundamental factors: OPEX, ROI, overall revenue, competitiveness in saturated markets, customer acquisition and retention rates, churn rate, CAC, NPS, LTV, and Time-to-Market for new features, among others.
Drawing on rich insights from influential reports such as the Forrester Digital Experience Report, Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms, and The McKinsey Digital Quotient Report, paired with Artkay's deep and broad eight-year journey across myriad products and businesses, this guide offers a handy support for informed actions. In the pivotal year of 2023, where business dynamics are ever-shifting, having a proactive, well-informed approach isn't a luxury; it's a necessity. This comprehensive and pragmatic guide is your compass, guiding businesses toward sustained growth and excellence.
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