Product Thinking: The Unique Thought Process Your Business Needs to Succeed


Product Thinking is an approach that involves an examination of every design angle to establish what the user wants and how to develop solutions to the problem. The process enables you to understand the priority and requirements in the specified timeline.

When you think about User Experience, what comes to your mind is an attractive, user-friendly, and simple array of product characteristics that make user's life convenient. However, the features are a few of many thoughtful solutions the product is trying to solve.

The product's ability to solve a problem is more important than function and design in ensuring a great user experience. For example, if you order something from most eCommerce sites, you find a feature allowing you to track the product. Although it is a fantastic feature, it is not meaningful if the product does not reach you. But remember, the eCommerce site can work without it. Thinking about the product directs the focus away from processes and methods towards tangible results.

The Structure of Product Thinking

Thinking about a product helps identify the problems facing it and answers three questions, why, what, and how.

1) User first

2) Task at hand

3) Output

Definition of the User's Problem

The first stage in thinking about the product involves identifying the problem that your users need to solve. They will purchase your product provided it solves the problem in a valuable and meaningful way.

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When you choose a problem that is inexistent or proposes a package that does not solve the user problem, it will be inefficient and useless. If you make an error with the solution, you have a chance to fix it. However, when you solve an inexistent problem, you can do very little to rectify it in post-analysis.

At times, it might be a challenge to find the real problem even when you carry out intense research. The best way is to have conversations with potential users of your product. It is not a guarantee that the users will formulate their problems; thus, you must dig deeper and make actual observations even as you speak to them.

What Does the User Need?

After identifying the problems you want to solve, you can determine the specific reason for developing the product. Define the target audience by the users who have the identified issues as you seek to create the right product. You should also define the solution by describing how you will solve the problem. 

After that, you can set goals to preview the success of the product. Features should not replace the user experience but instead, extend it further.

Out of 30,000 consumer products released every year, 95% usually fails. Therefore, it is important to think about a product before creating it to avoid building one that has less or no people have interests. Moreover, whenever you suggest a new feature, you can determine whether to include it.

 Businesswoman in her warehouse looking at product thinking ideas for her business using a tablet device.

Is it Similar to Design Thinking?

Thinking about a product involves viewing the product as a whole and how it achieves its purpose. In contrast, Design Thinking involves closing the gap with the users in the individual characteristics. Although thinking about a product is more complex and holistic than thinking from the UX designer perspective, it establishes a healthier relationship between UX Design and Product management.

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When customers are buying the product, they pay for results and not the process. Most of the time, the existing processes draw the line for new products, limiting their possibilities. Additionally, products have a clear definition, unlike processes that can continue without the outcome and remain unclear.

A product is either existent or inexistent, and sometimes you can achieve a good outcome regardless of the process. However, it is risky to set the quality of the process as the yardstick for success instead of product quality. Designers can create a sounder product that efficiently meets the end requirements by thinking about user needs.

When working on product design, you must think beyond the end-user and UX design requirements. Therefore, it is critical to consider the competitive landscape, business factors, and goals, set costs around the feature and communicate the product to potential or existing clients. Whereas Design Thinking helps solve the problems encountered along the way, it is thinking about the product that provides you with the goal and the map of the journey.

Benefits of the Product Thinking Approach

Through Product Thinking, designers can understand the general user experience beyond interaction and visual design characteristics, thus enabling them to create the right people's right features. It makes it possible for the designers to create solutions to real-world user problems and lower the risk of developing a product that no one wants.

The UX designers can ask the right questions and have a more effective conversation with stakeholders, giving them the confidence to reject or have a second thought before adding any new feature. When there is a request for a new feature or a new product concept, it is possible to ask appropriate questions before creating elaborate layouts. For example, whether people will want or need the product, it serves an actual user problem, or the new feature fits in the product. All these aim to ensure your end products are efficient and subtle.

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The Bottom Line

If you want your business to be successful and competitive today, you must consider the right way of thinking and combine it with your product development techniques. A Product Thinking approach helps you to create a better product and is a way to view each design solution in the context of a problem the customer wants to solve.At Viral Solutions, we give you the support you require to take your business to the next level. Contact us today for assistance.


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Filed Under: Business Tips

About Lisa Thorstenson

Lisa began her sales, marketing, and category management career at Clairol, where she helped pioneer the company's analytical capabilities. She then spent more than six years at L'Oréal USA, during which time she launched and managed the Category Management Department across all categories and gained category captain positions across most major retail partners in all categories, leading to L'Oréal's rise to the #1 beauty brand position. Lisa then stepped into the OTC medicines arena when she joined Novartis, where she expanded her expertise into channel strategy and marketing across multiple categories. Following her time there, she joined Bristol Myers Squibb, where she was an integral part of the senior team responsible for the launch of their new “standalone” consumer medicines division. Following the sale of this division to P&G, Lisa joined The Yankee Candle Company to head up their business development initiative, where she opened new retail channels and significantly grew the business. In 2006, Lisa joined Sleep Innovations and brought her successful CPG approach and expertise to the foam bedding industry. She spent the next decade leading various initiatives throughout the organization, including channel marketing, marketing, creative, communications, and e-commerce.

Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Lisa started her own consulting business in 2015, primarily focused on business development and marketing for companies with a desire to enter the consumer retail markets or diversify into new categories. She worked with a wide range of companies, from commercial building material suppliers to towel manufacturers. Lisa has extensive experience with retail trade classes, product commercialization, marketing, packaging, and market research.

In her free time, Lisa is dedicated to helping local charities enhance their efforts, whether it is a fundraising event at church or assisting the American Legion with event planning for their annual Memorial Day services. She is also on a personal mission to inform friends, neighbors, and local businesses of elder care abuse. This is a significant issue in all communities across the country.