How to build loyal users with an early focus on product fit

Think about your favorite mobile app. The one you use daily. What about it keeps you coming back again and again? We’re willing to bet it has a great deal to do with user experience. In our last article, we talked all about market fit—the strategic steps you must take before you begin designing an application—to ensure you find the right users within your target market.

But grabbing their attention with a slick new idea is one thing. Building loyalty in your application is another. People may be quick to download an app, but then abandon it after a few uses because it either doesn’t serve a purpose or, more likely, the user experience was flawed. If the application is a nightmare to use or slow to launch, for example, people aren’t going to log in regularly to use it.

It goes beyond just the apps in the Apple App Store or Google Play. A regular complaint from corporate IT folks and the decision makers investing in enterprise applications is that employees don’t use them enough or as intended. However, resistance to new tech usually occurs because it’s hard to use or learn.

“You have to grab the users right away with a smooth onboarding experience. So many apps are one and done because the initial experience wasn’t great,” says Dan Katcher, founder and CEO of Rocket Farm Studios. “That’s why we put so much effort very early in the discovery process thinking about product fit and then testing those assumptions at every stage up until and after launch.”

Product fit is all about satisfying users

What do we mean when we say “product fit?” Whereas market fit is focused on your target audience (i.e., who will be passionate about using your product), product fit is about the design and features of the product. Those critical aspects that will make users happy and keep them using the product, even after you release new versions.

Market fit and product fit go hand in hand, and for your product to succeed, you need to find and ensure both.

The keys to achieving product fit

We’ve helped launch many successful projects at Rocket Farm Studios, and here are some critical lessons we’ve learned along the way:

  • Understand your brand and users incredibly well. Develop a brand map that details what your business does, who you are and how you relate to your users. Then define the types of users, if there are more than one, who will use your product. Conduct interviews, do market research, learn everything you can about your target audience, and create a user persona for each type of user. This step is critical to understanding their needs and preferences and how your brand specifically can meet those expectations.
  • Focus on a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Early on, create a thesis about the minimum feature set required to take your product to market and prove your assumptions (e.g., that your business model works or that users will keep using the product). Map your MVP requirements, including functional requirements (i.e., features) and system-oriented requirements (i.e., reliability, scalability and security). Ultimately, before you move into design, you want a detailed plan and a high-level set of requirements, ideally captured in an issue tracking database that you can later reference against the design.
  • Remember, an MVP isn’t a “perfect” product. It has the functionality required for users to begin using the application, and is just enough to prove your core business thesis, but it’s not polished or final. Releasing an MVP allows you to test the waters, discover glitches in the user experience, and gather customer feedback so you can fine-tune the product. If you are monetizing your application, it allows you to start making money sooner.
  • Measure data against a True North Metric. Your True North Metric is how you will gauge the success of a product, and it will inform decisions regarding it. What is the one metric that captures the value you offer users and indicates that your product is succeeding? Is it number of daily active users? Or time spent in the app? Decide what that metric will be early in the process. Then determine how you will capture and measure it against your internal and industry benchmarks.
  • Build, test and learn throughout the process. We can’t stress this enough: Don’t trust your original assumptions. You won’t always know what key feature or experience makes the product indispensable to users, so question your assumptions to ensure you are meeting the users’ expectations—even after you launch. Iterate, test, learn, and fix what isn’t working and enhance what is. Then start over. You should be testing everything, from keywords to features, with a small and growing set of users as early as possible and as a discipline.
  • Audit your existing resources. Are you ready to release an MVP? What are the capabilities of your IT and marketing teams? What key intellectual property do you hold? What is the state of your current IT infrastructure? Do you have the ability to collect data and analytics so that you can glean the insights needed to brand and market your product or make improvements?
  • It’s important to look at your existing assets and determine what you will need in order to develop, grow and scale your product. That could require upgrades to your tech stack or marketing process, for example. An audit can be eye-opening, making it obvious pretty quickly that you’ll need support to take your product to market.
  • Design an easy-to-use interface so you don’t lose early users. User experience (UX) design is the process of creating a product that is both easy and enjoyable to use, so it drives up customer satisfaction. Early on, develop a high-level experience map that details what the ideal experience—from end-to-end—should look and feel like for customers as they navigate the application.
  • Tools like Figma, Sketch and Axure can help you plan, prototype and collaborate on a design before you begin development.

Build it. Launch it. Grow it.

At Rocket Farm Studios, market and product fit are core to our four-part product development process—Discovery, Design, Development and Growth. The process, along with testing our theories early and often, helps to ensure we have an audience that will both immediately love the product and that will remain loyal to it.

If you’re ready to build something, we’re ready to help you every step of the way, from planning and design to development and growth. Contact us today.

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