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Users may forget a product’s features but will always remember the experience. This alone is reason enough to incorporate User Experience (UX) Design processes into the product engineering and development cycle as early as from the PoC stage. UX design is a part of human-centric design that encompasses interaction design, graphic design, ergonomics, and more, and is critical to the success of a product. Research suggests that a large percentage of users abandon applications that are not user-friendly. So, two of the main goals of good UX design are to acquire a broad user base for the product and secondly, to retain them. With a UX design-led approach it is possible to get your product assessment done during the early stages, with minimum investment.

Creating an engaging user experience for a diverse set of users is a challenge, and one of the effective ways to validate product-market fit is investing in a PoC. It can be then followed by a prototype or Minimum Viable Product (MVP). PoC, Prototyping, and MVPs are the most efficient (hence, popular!) ways to test the assumptions behind your product ideas.

PoC is a feasibility study conducted during the discovery phase of product engineering and development. It focuses on core features or the main technical assumptions that the product is based on. While a technical PoC is routinely used in product development to get validation for the demonstrated functionality and feasibility, UX design has not been part of PoCs, traditionally. Starting UX processes early can help businesses fine-tune and arrive at the right visual and experiential tone for their product, which will hugely affect usability. The core elements of UX design at the PoC stage include research on user needs, user personas, user stories, and user tasks that are based on design goals prioritized by the business. Understanding why and how users will be motivated to use the product requires research – both qualitative and quantitative. A user persona is a representation of the main characteristics, interaction types, and needs of a target user base. A PoC based on up to 3 defined personas is considered best practice. User stories set the context for the different tasks that the personas would do when using the product.

Prototyping can be used efficiently in gathering feedback from stakeholders and improving the product before large-scale development. It can make it easier to present your business offerings without actual development and can be a very handy tool for investor pitches for securing funding. Discovering all product specifications, prioritizing user needs, and finding and fixing gaps in product flows can get easy and efficient with a well-designed prototype. It’s a time and cost-saving approach to evolve your product concept based on user feedback while showcasing the look and feel of the product.

MVP is a releasable version of your product. It validates market needs without building a comprehensive product and is developed for early adopters as a target user group. It needs to only focus on the primary features of the product that best demonstrate the business idea. For this – Dev, QA, and Product teams need to work alongside the UX Designer to provide continuous feedback to ensure a focused and lean-approach. The MVP should only have the minimal feature set required to meet critical needs and alleviate pain points. Lean UX is a collaborative and iterative process to refine the UX design by continuously validating assumptions and incorporating feedback in minimum viable increments – delivering maximum value while minimizing time, risk, and waste. It is based on the core principles of User Experience Design, Design Thinking, Agile, and Lean Startup. While PoCs and prototyping are done during the pre-product stages; the MVP process involves actual product development for core features to gauge product-market fit.

Incorporating UX design from the PoC stage will enable developers to focus completely on improving the technical aspects later on, thereby launching product development on the fast track! One has to choose the right approach (either/all) in order to not waste resources and time. Bringing in UX expertise early on can help you navigate through the decision-making process, get early feedback, test the go-to-market strategy and help the team craft enhanced user experiences with reduced risk and high chances of better profitability.

UNBOX is a UX practice at GS Lab | GAVS, where we design world-class yet practical digital experiences for our customers. In numerous engagements, we have been involved in various stages of the product engineering and development lifecycle, including PoCs and MVPs. Our experience in UX allows us to navigate vast domains and different customer segments easily. Unboxing user experience aspects at an early stage of the product surely does reap benefits later. You can find more information on our services here.