But we quickly discovered that agile development brought a number of other client advantages. By combining user research, UX design, development, quality assurance and marketing strategy on a single team, we were able to set a long-term roadmap for client projects. Beyond simply building a beautiful, functional website, we armed our clients with a plan to effectively reach users and respond to them.
With agile principles comes the understanding that what you launch at the start is not nearly as important as what you launch next. Iteration and new feature development lies at the heart of a product mindset.
Your Second Launch is the Most Important
We tend to focus all of our efforts on finishing. That all-important launch. It’s an old school way of thinking – it sounds funny, but that’s a traditional approach to digital.
We recently launched PlanningPoker.com, and one of our most important lessons was that while launch was important, the next 60 days between launch and iteration could make or break the product. Our developers, Team Orange, had invested nearly a year of free time into making PlanningPoker.com a reality, but the two months after launch proved the most critical time.
Those 60 days are when you move past MVP to a full-fledged product. Product thinking pushes you to gather extensive user feedback, identify features that resonate with users, prioritize our next feature iterations and set prices for our intended user groups.
All of that data answers the questions, “What problem do I solve for users?” and “Does this website, app or experience land with our core users?” Once you can answer those questions, you can move swiftly to your second launch, the one that will move your product toward success.
Most other creative endeavors rely on revision and improvement to find success. The best writers, for instance, know that the first draft is critical, but it’s the second or third draft (or the 10th) that ultimately gets published. Comedians are constantly taking feedback and refining their material. Physical products receive new iterations every year.
Websites deserve – and need – the same level of attention and iteration. For years, however, businesses have been content to launch a website and leave it stagnant. Sure, there may be a few content changes here and there, or you may have a weekly blog post, but the core experience of the website may remain the same for years.
Drop “Launch” from your Vocabulary
If it sounds like we’re saying, “Your website is never done, ” that’s because we are. And we know that may fill clients with dread and a sense of dwindling budgets, but it shouldn’t. A real digital product is defined by a commitment to testing, learning and iterating, but that doesn’t mean you’re in a state of constant development. Rather, it means that you have the framework in place to learn from your users and constantly deliver value.
Ultimately, this means higher revenues by beating competitors to market, streamlining your user onboarding process, identifying new feature opportunities and rapidly improving your product offering. Beyond your core product, this iterative feedback loop can also help determine potential products or solutions that may benefit your current user base.
Simply put, your next website can’t afford to just be a website. It needs to be a digital product with the flexibility to adapt to your market and solve real problems.