It’s important to match your product to your customers’ needs to achieve a strong product-market fit. But, how can you effectively assess your product needs?

As part of the EWOR Academy, Moritz Funk gave a lecture on the most useful strategies to validate product needs. As co-founder of Wellster Healthtech Group, a German digital health company, Moritz is an expert in digital health products. He has years of experience in product research and development.

Learn how to assess product needs from Moritz’s expertise in the most effective validation methods.

Why Is It Important to Assess Your Product Needs?

As a start-up founder, it’s key to manage scarce resources in the most effective way. When funding is difficult and investors expect promising reports, don’t waste the resources you have. If you don’t assess your product needs, you’ll develop in the wrong direction and waste precious time and money.

Validating product needs reduces the risk of failure. While it’s natural and good to fail sometimes, it’s in your best interest to minimise unnecessary risks.

Through product need validation, you can also find out the accurate net promoter score (NPS) for your company. This score of customer satisfaction is a great indicator of how your product functions in the market and shows you how to improve it.

Finally, product need assessment helps you reduce marketing costs. It’s cheaper and easier to market a great product – linking back to prioritising your resources in smart ways.

The Process of Assessing Product Needs

Wellster uses timeboxing and the Google Design Sprint principles to confirm product needs. 

This system consists of five steps that you can adapt to your business to assess your product needs. Most entrepreneurs apply this technique to a full workweek, so each step takes about a day.

Step 1: Understand the Problem

Without understanding the problem, you won’t be able to find the best solution for it. Take this first step as a team exercise in research and analysis.

Who are your users? What are their needs? What is the context of this problem? Do your competitors offer good solutions already?

Read material, research customer needs in interviews, and understand the status quo. Look at the current solutions and understand the full scope of your customers’ needs.

After initial research, create hypotheses and first strategies at this stage. Plan the rest of your week and define clear goals for this validation cycle.

Step 2: Diverge & Ideate

After conducting your research day, get creative and envision as many ideas as you can to develop solutions. Apply your research findings to this ideation step and brainstorm with your entire team.

Make use of storytelling techniques even at this early stage. The more ideas you have, the easier the validation process will be.

Step 3: Pick the Best Idea

On the third day, it’s time to choose the best idea and expand on it. Decide what idea your team will focus on and begin the design process at this stage.

The more details you can generate for the best idea, the better your experiment will be.

Step 4: Build a Prototype

Build a simple, but functional prototype to present to users. It’s key to focus on usability over aesthetics at this point.

Perfectionism will harm this pragmatic process and cost you precious time and resources. The simplest version of your product or even mock-up presentations suffice at this stage.

Step 5: Validate Your Hypotheses

Show your prototype to real users outside your company and learn from their feedback. There’s little value in asking friends and family to review your product due to inherent biases.

This final step completes your product needs assessment cycle and generates the most learnings. Make small adaptations, conduct at least five interviews with users, and start marketing.

Advice

It’s okay for your assessment cycle to be unsuccessful with negative feedback. However, the work you put into this week is valuable regardless of the outcome because you’ll learn a lot in both cases.

The product validation process will show you what works and what ideas don’t work at all for your customers. Take that knowledge into the next experiment and improve your product.

The Three Validation Stages

Beyond the five-step assessment process, we can divide product needs validation into three main stages. Use this overarching system to understand the reasoning behind this method in more detail.

Stage 1: Problem Understanding

Every product starts with a problem. Ask yourself if the problem you’re working on is worth solving. Is your product solution something customers want?

Don’t make the mistake of focusing too much on the solution at this first stage. Prioritise the problem in its full scope and conduct interviews rather than surveys for the most usable feedback.

Stage 2: Mock-Up Interview

Build prototypes or mock-ups based on your insights from the research stage. Use a click-dummy or other simple versions of what your product will look like.

This prototype doesn’t need to be fully functional for effective customer interviews.

Stage 3: MVP and Data

Based on your product needs assessment, build the minimum viable product (MVP) and focus on its core functionality.

Use tracking data or quantitative insights to learn about how well your product is doing and what areas need improvement.

Recommendations and Tools

We’ve created a list of Moritz’ recommended tools to assess and validate product needs. Use them to speed up the process and gain the best insights for your analysis.

Keyword Research: Sistrix
Use Sistrix to research keywords and analyse SEO findings on the Google search engine. This tool can help you research what solutions or problems your customers are looking for online. 

Customer Interviews: Testingtime
Gain access to the ideal customer interview participants via TestingTime. With a few clicks, you’ll find your target audience and can schedule interviews with participants – in exchange for a small fee. 

Click-Dummy: Whimsical
Whimsical is a great wireframe tool to create click-dummies for customer interviews. Tools like this enable you to create clickable prototypes for a low cost.

Prototype & Mock-Up: Figma
Take advantage of team design tools like Figma to design or build prototypes and mock-ups.

User Behaviour: Hotjar
Tools like Hotjar deliver valuable insights into user behaviour on your website. Assess product needs by tracking and analysing how users interact with your website’s sections.

A/B Testing: AB Tasty
To research your users’ experience as they interact with different touch points, use tools like AB Tasty.

Book Recommendation
Ash Maurya’s “Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works” is a great starting point to dive into product need validation in more detail.

Bottom Line

Validating product needs is a necessary and valuable step in product development. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of extensive research, hypothesis testing, and implementing feedback.

Regard the NPS as a good metric to measure your market fit. Develop viable concepts, create MVPs as soon as possible, and adjust your product. Learn from repeating this cycle to assess your product needs effectively.

About the author
EWOR Team

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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