"Why Iteration is not Innovation"

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Secrets of digital product development (that don’t blow the budget)

I’ve been helping companies build digital products for well over a decade. I wouldn’t venture so far as to say “I’ve seen it all” … but I’ve seen a lot. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way (most of those mistakes are out of the way by now, but it took failure to learn from those mistakes). But that’s the beauty of our modern media environment… you can learn from people (like me) who lived through mistakes and can help you avoid them yourselves. So, that’s why I put together our most recent webinar about the secrets I’ve learned about digital product development along the way — specifically, how you can achieve success without blowing the budget.

The nitty-gritty

If you want the full full story, check out the recording of the webinar below. I go deep on each of the points I lay out here in the blog post, as well as answer some audience questions. But, if you’re more of a tl;dr kinda person, keep reading below!

Clarity is the antidote to risk in product development

In my experience, clarity is the cornerstone of successful digital product development. It’s about understanding the ‘why’ behind your product. This involves asking probing questions: Why does your product need to exist? What specific value does it add to the user? How do users navigate that process or pain point now? How will you solve for those pain points or change user behavior to embrace your product?

We often get caught up in the features and functionalities, but at its core, a product should solve a real problem or fulfill a genuine need.

This approach led us to pivot from the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) model to embracing the MLP (Minimum Lovable Product) concept. It’s a subtle yet powerful shift – from a product-centric to a user-centric mindset. This means creating products that users not just need, but truly love and connect with. It’s about building an experience, not just a tool.

Another important point under clarity is the degree of clarity. Some problems are massive, complex and require a lot of clarity before proceeding. Other problems are smaller, more specific and don’t require comprehensive clarity before jumping in — it might be the case that a smaller proof of concept can solve for how much clarity you need vs. an in-depth analysis of 18 different variables before you start doing anything.

And finally, you have to achieve stakeholder alignment before you have clarity. If you don’t have your stakeholders aligned and behind your product, brilliance in design or execution might not matter because it’s never going into production. Or, even if it does go into production, there won’t be enough institutional support behind it to ensure success (which means you’ll have blown your budget by definition).

Strategic Planning

I’m a firm believer in strategic planning, coupled with agile execution. This balanced approach has been instrumental in our projects. Planning doesn’t mean setting rigid paths; it’s about having a clear vision and flexible steps to achieve that vision. One of my favorite concepts that speaks to this is ‘validation gates’ — these are strategic checkpoints that ensure your project remains aligned with your goals. If you reach a validation gate and you’re off track, you know how, by how much, and what needs to be done to get back on track (or pull the plug if necessary).

These gates are not just about ticking off tasks. They’re about continuously validating your product against your market and user expectations. This methodology allows for adaptive, responsive development – critical in today’s fast-paced digital world.

Assembling the Right Team

A point I often stress is the significance of team composition. The right team for your project might not just be the most skilled, but the one that aligns perfectly with your project’s vision and requirements. It’s a harmony of skills, perspectives, and work ethics. It includes not just developers and designers, but strategists who bring a broader understanding of the market and user needs.

A great team should challenge, complement, and elevate each other’s work. This synergy is what transforms a good concept into an extraordinary product.

The Role of Adaptability in Product Development

In digital product development, change is constant. Markets evolve, user needs shift, and technologies advance. Adaptability is not just about responding to changes; it’s about anticipating and embracing them. It’s a mindset where feedback is a gift, and pivoting is a strength.

This adaptability also means being honest about what’s working and what isn’t. It involves making tough decisions, sometimes scaling back or even pausing projects to realign with your core objectives.

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up, I want to emphasize that the path to building a successful digital product is multifaceted. It’s a blend of clear vision, strategic planning, dynamic teamwork, and a flexible approach. In my years guiding both startups and established firms through the digital product development journey, these principles have stood as guideposts, leading us through the often tumultuous journey of digital product development safely.

All that being said, sometimes you need a little help from a veteran to really get your digital product off the ground — that’s where we come in.

If you’re stuck or unsure what your first (or next) step should be, give us a shout. ENO8’s Innovation Lab is an essential resource you should consider — it’s a focused environment where we work collaboratively to turn your innovative ideas into market-ready products. The lab is more than just a service; it’s a partnership where we align our expertise with your vision to validate concepts, design prototypes, and develop effective strategies. It not only accelerates the development of your product but also reduces risks and costs, ensuring your journey in digital product development is both efficient and successful.

If you’re interested in transforming your idea into a reality, hit us up!


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Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis is a veteran entrepreneur and founder of Dallas-based digital product studio ENO8. Jeff founded ENO8 to empower companies of all sizes to design, develop and deliver innovative, impactful digital products. With more than 18 years working with early-stage startups, Jeff has a passion for creating and growing new businesses from the ground up, and has honed a unique ability to assist companies with aligning their technology product initiatives with real business outcomes.

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