Product Value/Effort Explained

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I often like to think of things in a spectrum or on a line graph.

A junior designer asked me how to convince the product management team to increase the scope of the project to add in all of the usability features. He said that it was a better product that way. I drew him the following chart.

Click to zoom

Let’s break it down from left to right.

  1. Products are not valuable until you build them. This is why there is zero value until you can deliver something. That is called the MVP.
  2. Sometimes (often), you can put in a little bit more effort and almost double the value you get from a feature. I call this the MLP.
  3. Of course, you can put a ton of effort into a feature no one cares about. It goes without saying that none of us has ever done that before! (Sarcasm). Anyway, this is labeled “Dumb“.
  4. Finally, with a ton of effort, you can get to the highest level of value. This is labeled “Flagship”

I believe you should decide in advance if a particular feature is a MLP or a Flagship feature. Not all features are going to yield the same value to the organization. Sometimes you want to do the minimum and check the box.

However, I strongly believe that the level of effort to get the feature to MLP (from MVP) is almost always worth it. Put the little details in!

Lesson 1: Don’t do MVP if you can get MLP for minimal effort.

Additionally, it makes no sense to do the dumb thing – to put a ton of effort into a feature that people won’t use very much. This is labeled dumb for a reason. I really wish companies were wiser about this item. Way too often a dumb feature is built taking way longer than it should have.

Lesson 2: Don’t be dumb. If it isn’t going to give significantly more value, don’t put in significantly more effort.

Finally, when you are working on a flagship feature – something that will be used in every demo. Something that will have analysts talking… that is the time to invest serious effort.

The key point here is: Decide what kind of feature it is and design it appropriately. Designers should be part of this thought process. Don’t just leave it up to the product managers. They aren’t gods. They are human beings just like the rest of us. Talk to the engineers. Find out how hard things are. Prioritize. Be strategic.

Designers should be proactive strategic thinkers. Not reactive tactical thinkers.

I like this chart. Hopefully you found it helpful.

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