Launching Early (But Not Too Early)
Episode #3 of the course How to build an online business by Crew
Today, we’re covering the importance of not only launching your product early, but balancing that with including the most necessary features.
It’s important to launch early. It’s important to make a good first impression.
These are two conflicting opinions, so which is right?
The importance of launching early
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” — Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn
Everything in your plan might look good on paper, but how do your customers react when it’s a real thing? This is the benefit of getting your product out early — to find the holes you didn’t think of that matter most to your customers.
But first impressions last, right?
While launching early is important, so is a first impression.
In a study run by Google, it was found that people judge a website’s beauty within 1/50th to 1/20th of a second — faster than you can snap your fingers. Your product’s design has an immediate impact on people staying or leaving.
A well-designed environment makes your audience feel good, causing them to be inspired and more likely to take action.
When a product, website, or app “just works,” it leaves a lasting impression on the people using it. Design is one way to keep people coming back and inspire them to share with people they know.
Emotion drives action, and this is how quality product design can play a pivotal role in the success of your product.
How to balance design and launching early
So, if launching early and design are both important, how do you know how far to take the level of design in a product?
Ryan Singer, product designer at Basecamp, shared how he balances features and execution in an early product:
“The set of features you choose to build is one thing. The level you choose to execute at is another. You can decide whether or not to include a feature like ‘reset password.’ But if you decide to do it, you should live up to a basic standard of execution on the experience side.”
To balance product quality and launching early, Singer recommends taking these three steps:
1. Start by laying out the features for the product in a list
2. Prioritize features based on answers to the following questions:
1. How valuable is this feature from the perspective of the customer’s problem?
2. How necessary is this feature from nice-to-have to must-have?
3. How far do I have to take this feature? How good should this particular piece be in order to call it “done” and move on?
3. Visualize the features using a “heat map” to identify the pieces that are the most important to the customer
However many features you decide to build, your goal should be to meet a baseline standard of quality across all features. That said, whether you build a few basic features or many complex ones, the result of the features should meet the same level of quality.
And (here’s where it gets important) as you build more features, seek to reach the same level of quality of the features before them. The evolution of your product should feel natural — each step building up from the last.
When it comes to building a product, you need to decide when something is good enough to launch or needs to be chiseled some more.
Don’t wait too long to launch, but also don’t wait until your product is too perfect.
There isn’t one best option for every product because no two scenarios are the same, but hopefully these examples and steps to evaluate your design will help you strike the right balance between design and launching early.
“Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days” by Jessica Livingston
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