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SĀF Insights Four myths to avoid when designing a new product

A.I. is making it easier to build things. But how do you ensure you’re building the right thing? How do you set up your product and your team for success? Observing the current race to build A.I. tools, we keep seeing teams grapple with common misconceptions about product design.

Based on our years of experience designing new products, we wanted to highlight four such misconceptions that can lead teams astray, regardless of the technology or industry they are working in. Whether you're just starting your product development journey or you're deep in the process, these observations can help you demystify the challenges of early-stage product design.

Myth 1Because a solution is useful, people will actually use it.

Even a brilliant solution will struggle to find product-market fit if it is not solving the right problem. You can use criteria like frequency, urgency, and criticality to discover high-value problems that will attract users.

Myth 2People want better tools

Theodore Levitt famously said “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” Yet, when we try to design solutions, we often limit ourselves to improving how things are done now. You can broaden your opportunity for innovation by differentiating areas of the user journey where people actually benefit from investing their time (an “exploratory” experience) vs where there is greater value in delivering an outcome with minimal user investment (a “transactional” experience).

With the explosion of AI-driven products, there is a growing desire for transactional solutions that require no effort from the user. But there is an equal necessity for human oversight to catch errors and ensure correctness. In these instances, a "guided" journey can be a valuable approach.

Myth 3You need a large engineering budget to prototype and validate the proof of concept

Getting to your proof of concept can seem like a daunting task, but it is much closer than you may realize. Begin by peeling away all the layers of your concept: narrow down to the hypothesis that drives your core value proposition. You can rapidly prototype and test this hypothesis using a number of no-code/low-code approaches such as spreadsheet prototypes, simple HTML and Javascript, or no-code/low-code SaaS tools.

Myth 4Design is how a product looks and feels

Steve Jobs defined design at Apple as “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” We believe it’s even deeper: design begins with an organizational commitment to solving the right problems. Strategically, this means challenging assumptions and validating your opportunities. Tactically, this means narrowing in on the essential problems to solve in order to make the most of your resources.

About us

Space And Flow guides teams through the challenges of early-stage product design.

We provide tools to successfully navigate this murky space and avoid pitfalls. We believe that the first responsibility of design must be to set up product teams for greater success.

Principal designer Arijit Das has over 25 years of experience designing new software for complex human-centered challenges, heavily regulated industries, and data-intensive ecosystems.

Arijit has led the design of digital products for numerous startup, enterprise, and institutional clients, including

Amtrak, Animoto, Halo Investing, Haven Technologies, Kohl's, McKinsey & Company, National Institute of Mental Health, Natioal Institute of Nursing Research, Tropic, US Navy, US Federal Reserve

Copyright © 2023 Arijit Das for Space And Flow, Inc. All rights reserved