Product Development

How to Improve a Product

What is product improvement?

Product improvement is the process of making meaningful product changes that result in new customers or increased benefits realized by existing customers. The two most popular ways to make product improvements are to add new product features or improve existing ones.

What can you do to improve your product?

Once you have the first version of your business up and running and you are making sales, the next step is to create a plan to understand how your customers feel about your products so that you can improve the quality of what you’re providing. No matter how great your idea is, it can always be improved through continuous testing. The best way to test your idea is to get it in front of customers and see what they think.

  1. Get customer feedback
    • Prepare a customer survey for users to fill out on their own time

    • Conduct customer interviews where you ask questions

    • Conduct a test

  2. What types of feedback to collect
    • Evaluate how customers say about it

    • Evaluate how customers use and misuse the product

    • Evaluate how customers handle and interact with the product

    • Evaluate what questions customers have

  3. Create a way to test your product
    • Show the product: Put your product in the user’s hands and don’t explain everything. Let your customer play around with your product. Then explain the full usability and evaluate the differences.

    • Create experiences: Test your products in a way that feels like an experience that your customer is reacting to, rather than an explanation that your user is evaluating.

    • Compare: Compare your products to your competitors or a later version to a newer version.

Think of everything you hear as Constructive Criticism. Be able to understand the difference between what is said vs what is meant - every word of input can positively impact your business. Some people aren’t going to like your idea, that doesn’t mean your business is not viable. Create a feedback log where you can record all feedback received and who you received it from. Pay attention to trends you hear in the feedback.  Do your best to avoid feeling attacked or defensive - most people are really trying to help!

Why is product improvement important?

Getting feedback will also help you maintain a happy and loyal customer base. This is important because your customers will be one of your most important marketing channels, especially when you first start! This is known as the Network Effect. The Network Effect comes into play when the first group of users of a product or service rapidly expand its reach by introducing the business or organization to their circle of friends, coworkers, i.e., their “network”. As the user base or “network” of people the product or service grows, the more useful the business becomes to users.

Pro Tip

Product improvement is a fundamental step for a successful business. Generally you should take multiple cycles as you move from working on the initial product design to the nuanced details after launch. Ideally try to use a real, finalized version of the product within a real context of the user’s life. For a physical object, try to get customers use it within their normal routines. For an experience, try to create a scenario in a location that would capture the real situation.