Does your company have a website? If so, you’ve recognised that it’s important to have an online presence where site visitors and users (customers) can find you. But what many businesses fail to recognise is that their website is also a product. No matter what industry you’re in, your website is a product. Why is this distinction important?
In the following sections, we’ll discuss what a product is, the process of product design, and how to determine if your website is a product (or not), and how to ensure the site is useful for site users.
What is a Product?
A digital or physical product is something designed and developed for customers to use. The product is usually updated over time to make it more useful. The updates may be necessary due to new technology and customer demands. No matter what, the product needs to fit the needs and wants of the customer.
Products can also be a list of business services/capabilities on a website. These capabilities may be delivered as software, hardware, services, a platform, and more.
No matter what the product is, it must go through a process called product design.
What is Product Design?
Product design is the process of creating a solution to a problem. A good test to see if your product design will be successful is to ask, “Does this product solve the user’s problem or ease their pain point?” If so, your users will adopt the product, and you’ll have success.
Here are the steps necessary for successful product design:
- Identify a problem
- Define the product vision to solve the problem
- Conduct user analysis to research how and why users will use the product
- Create a prototype based on the data gained from the user analysis
- Test the prototype
- Adjust the design based on the prototype test results
With a better understanding of a product and its creation, you can determine whether your website is a product and how its design can promote a positive user experience.
On the other hand, if your website is not a product, it’s being treated as a project. But what’s the difference?
The Difference Between Project & Product Websites
There’s a great difference between a website that’s a product and one that’s a project. Here are some differences between these two types of websites.
- A product is a continuous process that’s designed to create value for customers, improve a service or product, and introduce new, valuable features for users.
- A product has no determined deadline.
- A product has a lifecycle characterised by continuous improvements according to customers’ needs.
- A project is a temporary activity that fulfils the requirements of a specific customer
- A project has a determined deadline, which outlines what needs to be done, by whom, and when
- Projects generally have short-lived lifecycles
From these descriptions, you should be able to determine whether your website is a product or a project.
Project Websites Offer No Value
Websites that are managed like a project offer no value. If your website falls within this category, it’s time for some updates. The fact is that customers want websites that meet their needs and respond to their questions. They also require a website that adapts to meet their changing needs.
It takes careful planning and a product-oriented approach to ensure your website is a product for your customers.
Customers may be looking for the following on your website:
- Connection: customers want to share their feedback about your products and services with others
- Interaction: interactive tools, such as online banking, allow customers to get tasks done online through the company website
- Education: customers want to learn essential details about your products and services
- Transaction: online shopping and other online transactions also offer a way for customer to get their tasks done online in one place
- Sharing information: customers want to share information with other users about your company’s products and services—they can do this through a product website.
These are a few of the examples of what customers want to accomplish through your business website. If your website offers these or similar services, you have a product website. If not, it’s time to treat your website as a product rather than a service.
How to Treat Your Website as a Product
It’s time to treat your website as a product, but how? Here are some steps you can take to ensure your website serves as a product:
Generate smart idea: product websites always start by generating ideas by asking these questions:
- What is the concept behind our website? Is it to attract more customers or increase sales?
- How will our website solve a customer’s problem?
- How will your company benefit from this website?
Design product strategy: ask how the website will solve your customers’ problems and meet their needs. The answer will help you and your team with the planning phase.
Plan the product: learn about the problems customers have and how your company can offer solutions to these problems. Create a document that establishes market requirements to help plan the types of products your site will offer.
Plan the launch: create an implementation plan that shows how to integrate multimedia content (text, images, video, and audio) into your site.
Launch: raise awareness about your website to achieve visibility from the start
Management: use analytics to learn how site users are interacting with the website. Watch for any issues that customers may have on the site and fix these problems quickly. Fine tune your products and services over time to meet the changing needs of your customers.
Treating your website as a product ensures it meets the needs of your customers and improves user experience.
Follow the steps of product design to create a company website that’s useful and solves customer problems, as well as providing the valuable information customers need. With this method, you’ll have a successful website that brings benefits to your customers and increases your brand’s credibility and trust.