Product Validation: when and why to do it
Product Validation helps you ensure you’re offering the right solution, to solve the right problem for the right audience. Learn when to apply validation instances in your product development process.
Building a digital product involves a considerable amount of assumptions. There’s no such thing as pure certainty when defining a problem, a business idea, or an innovative solution.
As an entrepreneur, most of the time, you have to hypothesize about your users’ needs and the solutions you should provide to them.
Before investing a ton of money and time in a risky project like this, you need to verify that your product has real potential to succeed in the market.
In short, you need to conduct a Product Validation process to confirm your assumptions.
Applying validation instances from the earliest stages and throughout the entire product lifecycle is the most effective way to create a product that offers the right solution, in the right moment, and for the right audience.
In this article, you’ll learn:
– What is product validation and why it is so crucial for your product development process
– In which stages of your development cycle, you should implement validation instances
– What tools and techniques will help you validate your idea, your value proposition, and your product
What is Product Validation and why it’s so important
Product Validation is the process that helps ensure that a product or service accomplishes its intended use and goals. It allows you to confirm or dismiss your assumptions about a problem, an idea, or a solution and helps you make critical adjustments to achieve product/market fit.
Validation reduces risks, minimizes costs, and speeds up the delivery of a product in the market. It’s one of the primary tools teams use to ensure a product is on the right track, and the dangers of wasting time, resources, and money are kept at bay.
However, validation is not a one-time exercise. If you want your business idea to have real potential to succeed, you need to implement a validation process throughout the entire product cycle.
When to apply Validation
Product Validation it’s not just about testing the user experience or some features here and there. It goes beyond that.
Considering that the conception of the problem, the characteristics of the market segment, and the solution are mainly based on hypotheses, Validation becomes a significant step in the process of making a successful product or service.
Validating the Problem and the User Segment
No matter how confident you are in your product idea, the first thing you need to verify is if there’s a real problem your potential customers are facing and that it needs to be solved.
The reason is simple. Without users seeking to satisfy a necessity, there is no point in creating a solution.
Your goal is to identify the user segment with the most potential for your business and learn about their habits, needs, behavior, and problems.
Learning about your target audience will help you achieve product/market fit and create a solution that solves a genuine problem.
Your best option here is to talk directly with your potential customers to get a qualitative validation of the target segment and the problems they’re facing. The best way to do it is through User Interviews.
You can start with a sample of ten users to validate the characteristics of your target customers and make sure that the problem exists for them.
The learning you gain from User Interviews will give you the confidence you need to move your project forward, or it’ll teach you if you have to pivot your idea.
The goal of User Interviews is to understand the motivations and needs of your potential users and use their feedback to build the right solution.
Ideally, during interviews, you’ll want to have both an interviewer and an observer present. While the interviewer asks the questions, the observer takes notes.
Encourage participants to share their experiences as well as their needs and challenges. Ask open-ended questions and try to understand how users have been attempting to solve this problem in the past.
Avoid asking suggestive questions. These questions usually come with the interviewer’s assumptions, which could lead to false conclusions.
Another helpful tools and resources to validate your target segment and their problems are:
– Market research: you can check out studies on your target segment, users’ questions in forums, or product reviews in app stores.
– Industry reports: reports or white papers on problems similar to the one you are aiming to solve
– Surveys: after conducting User Interviews, you can use surveys to gather quantitative data on the problem you want to validate.
Validating the Value Proposition
In order to achieve product/market fit, you need to define a Value Proposition for your solution.
Additionally, you need to validate that Value Proposition with real users and refine it as your product evolves, and you acquire more knowledge about the market and your customers.
Validating your Value Proposition will help you stay focus on what you must deliver to meet your audience’s needs and create a remarkable experience. It’ll also allow you to keep your team aligned and avoid wasting time and resources on things that aren’t relevant to your project.
Here are some methods you can use to validate your Value Proposition:
– User interviews: they help you understand your potential customers’ needs and their reaction to your Value Proposition.
– Competitive intelligence: It allows you to realize how your competitors are describing their products and to ensure you are differentiating your solution from theirs.
– Internal surveys and interviews: They help you understand what insights do your customer-facing teams –customer support, sales, and research– have about customer needs and what ways of positioning the product worked best for them.
– Product pitch: A product pitch is an attempt to sell your product to your potential customers before you even build it. It helps you validate if there’s a real interest of your users in your solution and how much they’d willing to pay for it.
Validating the solution
The most efficient way to make sure your product can solve a particular problem is to get your hands dirty and build a prototype to test it with real users.
The goal here is to gather feedback and learn as much you can from your users.
Building a prototype
Your prototype doesn’t need to be too complex to accomplish its purpose. You don’t have to write code to validate a product or service. Your focus here is to verify if the solution you want to build is the best way of solving the problem you previously identified for your target segment.
Validating the solution is super important because you might be conceiving a product or service that doesn’t stand out from the one your potential customers currently use to solve their problem.
Once you’ve created an interactive prototype, it’s time to test it with real users.
If you’re not entirely familiarized with the prototyping or the user testing part, we recommend you to check out these resources:
–Design better and faster with rapid prototyping – by Lyndon Cerejo
–Test Your Prototypes – by Interaction Design Foundation
Other ways to validate your Solution
There are other ways to validate your solution. Two of the most useful methods are The Concierge and The Wizard of Oz techniques.
Concierge is a product validation exercise whose main characteristic is that there’s no technology involved in the process. The user experience is provided entirely by a real person.
This technique is inspired by the role of a hotel’s concierge, who is in charge of solving customers’ problems manually.
The goal of Concierge is to simplify the experience of a product by replacing automated components with humans. It helps teams to gain a deep understanding of users’ needs and being able to respond to a fundamental question: “do people want what I’m offering?”
Take, for example, a food service that allows users to order lunch and get it delivered in their workplace. A way of testing this business idea through the Concierge test would be to take the orders from each user (by phone or personally) and then manually deliver the food at each workplace.
Wizard of Oz
Another great exercise is The Wizard of Oz. In this test, participants interact with a product or service which seems automated, but it’s actually an unseen person the one who provides the experience.
Wizard of Oz is a useful technique to validate a digital solution and test users’ reactions before jumping to programming. It usually comes down to develop an MVP with a simple interface and let a real person handle the logic behind it.
Using the same example as before, imagine now that the food delivery service has an MVP that allows people to order lunch through an interactive interface. However, instead of the app processing the orders in an automated way, there’s a real person on the other side receiving the orders and managing the deliveries.
The main difference between the two techniques is that in the Concierge test, the users know that the service is provided by a real person, while in The Wizard of Oz, they think that the experience is entirely automated.
Validation is just the start!
The goal of the Product Validation is to reduce risks and avoid unnecessary, time-consuming work. Validating the problem, the User Segment, the value proposition, and the solution is just the start.
Keep talking to your users, continually gathering feedback, and working on optimizing your product even after you release it.
Need a hand with a challenging project?
At Bixlabs, we have 5+ years helping top-tier startups to build their digital products. We’ve developed an iterative product development process, including several validation stages that ensure the product aligns perfectly with the users’ needs and expectations.
If you’re looking for an experienced, fully dedicated team to help you build your product, give us a call.