When you’re building your first product, you need something going for it. Especially if you’re not solving a completely unsolved problem (read: customers would accept anything, no matter the lack of polish), you need to offer an experience that beats the existing solution.
You may remember me writing about focusing on building the first iteration, getting feedback, and moving from there. I still believe this to hold true, but there’s an additional piece to the puzzle of getting your first users that I was missing before.
When given the choice between a product that feels like the creators spent a single weekend on and one that seems polished even though it offers the same (or fewer) features, people will go for the latter almost every time. Put differently, distributing your product is all about the experience: Can you make yourself look bigger than you really are (without being a fraud)?
For me, this idea is but a hunch, but the more I keep thinking about it, the more rational it seems. Sure, the whole early adopter model states that the most daring people are willing to explore solutions that lack a certain level of refinement, but we’ve adjusted to products that are well-built to a degree that was once exclusive to large corporations.
The good thing is, that product teams can follow suit and raise the targeted quality. The old idea of a weekend project MVP almost sounds too good to be true, and maybe that’s because it is: If you want to build something bigger than a passive side income that should last for years to come, you probably have to think a bit bigger, too.
This is not to say that we’re back to the build cycle with little to no feedback involved in the design process. In the best case, you’ve gathered lots of knowledge and insights from customer interviews and upfront research. If not, you may have to be more strategic in building, making sure you can deliver your product in chunks and get validation rather than going for the most polished version of your idea to find out nobody cares.
But even then, why do some products win merely on design and usability? The answer is that there’s more to product success than just an unsolved idea. I might go as far as to say that the idea is the least important piece of the journey: Ultimately, you need to deliver a product or service that’s better than your competition.
And that’s exactly what we’re going for with Anzu nowadays. I haven’t shared lots of progress recently, but we’ve been hard at work, and it will take more time still. The best thing about building products is that step by step, you learn and improve the process to build the best possible product to create real value. And oh boy, are we learning a lot.