Have you ever wondered what makes a successful product and how a product manager can build one?
If yes, you’re in the right place as we’re just about to explore the 12 must-have characteristics of successful digital products.
- To be successful, your SaaS product needs to provide the right mix of features.
- Kano analysis helps distinguish between essential features and those which make your product stand out.
- Product excellence is a framework that relies on user feedback to inform product strategy and roadmap for faster delivery of products.
- Successful products satisfy user needs.
- A successful product manages to deliver value to customers.
- Value Proposition Canvas can help you decide what features to develop to provide value to users.
- A solid value proposition communicates the benefits of your product without over-promising.
- Product-Market Fit (PMF) surveys let you see if your product delivers the right value to your customers; if 40% of users would miss your product if it’d stopped existing, you’re doing a great job.
- Great usability helps users achieve value more quickly and contributes to product success.
- Usability, together with adaptability, desirability, and value, affects the quality of the user experience.
- To shorten the time to value, design personalized user onboarding flows.
- Self-service solutions like resource centers help users access support whenever they need them.
- Great products are scalable i.e. easy and inexpensive to upgrade and deliver to new customers.
- Successful products offer only features that deliver value to the majority of the users; be ready to sunset features or products that don’t deliver value.
- Instead of developing extra features in-house, offer integrations with other products your users might be already using; outsource the tools that your team needs.
- Never stop collecting user feedback to inform future development and make sure that your product remains relevant.
- Userpilot can help you build a successful product with its microsurveys for feedback collection and in-app experiences for bespoke user onboarding flows.
What makes a successful product?
In short, to make a successful product, you need to provide your users with the right features that make your product worth the money. That normally means much more than delivering the bare minimum. You must delight your customers.
To start with, your product needs the threshold qualities. These are the basics and are indispensable. Your product simply needs to work for the purpose it was intended.
Then come the performance qualities. They are not called satisfiers without a reason – the more of these you deliver, the more attractive the product is in the eyes of your customers.
Finally, we have the excitement qualities, aka delighters. These are the ones that your customers didn’t expect or realize they wanted until they got a chance to use them.
What is product excellence?
Product excellence is an approach in product management focusing on delivering quality consumer products more swiftly thanks to a clear product strategy and a coherent roadmap based on deep insights from users.
12 Must-Have Qualities of a Good Product
So what makes a successful product? We’ve identified 12 qualities:
- A successful product answers the user’s needs
- A good product offers value
- Successful products have a solid value proposition
- A successful product has achieved product-market fit
- Good products have great usability
- A good product offers a great user experience
- Successful products have personalized onboarding
- A good product avoids poor customer service
- A great product is scalable
- Good products don’t fall into the build trap
- A successful product integrates with other products
- A good product’s development process is fueled by user feedback
1. A successful product answers the user’s needs
The process of designing and developing a successful product starts with a user need.
A product that doesn’t meet users’ needs can’t be successful. It’s as simple as this. Why would anyone want to part with their money if the product didn’t solve their problems?
On the other hand, don’t try to satisfy too many needs either.
If a product does everything, there’s a big chance it’s not great at anything, and there are specialist tools out there that do each of the jobs better.
Value Proposition Canvas is a great tool that can help. It was invented by Dr. Alexander Osterwalder and is used by product teams to map user needs and discover the main functionalities of the product.
2. A good product offers value
To survive on the market, your product needs to provide value to your customers. How can you achieve that?
The list of values your product could offer is endless. For example, it could improve comfort or productivity, or efficiency.
Basically, you can either solve a new problem for your users or solve older problems better than your competitors.
3. Successful products have a solid value proposition
Once you figure out how you can provide value to your customers, you need to communicate this clearly to your users.
How? With a solid value proposition.
A value proposition is a statement that clearly spells out the benefits of the product and sets expectations for future users.
A good value proposition gives the customers a true idea of what the product can deliver.
A bad one promises things that you won’t be able to deliver and that can lead to lots of disappointed users, the churn rate going through the roof, and your reputation in tatters.
4. A successful product has achieved product-market fit
Delivering value to the users and solving their problems are linked directly to finding your product-market fit, or PMF in short.
Marc Andreessen defines product-market fit as :
“The moment when a startup finally finds a widespread set of customers that resonate with its product.”
In other words, your task is to build a product that is right for a particular sector of the market.
Your product may have all the features imaginable and be of high quality, but it only matters if there is demand for it on the market. If not, you need to keep iterating until you get there.
Achieving PMF fit is important because it helps you stay relevant in the market.
How do you go about it?
User feedback is the key and you collect it with PMF surveys.
The PMF, aka the Sean Ellis test, is a micro survey that tests the user sentiment in a slightly subversive way. Instead of asking about the satisfaction level, it asks users how disappointed they would be if they couldn’t use the product anymore.
If 40% of users say ‘very disappointed’, you’ve made it.
5. Good products have great usability
Usability is about how easy it’s for users to effectively complete their jobs, and it is one of the defining qualities of a successful product.
Good usability is determined by how effective and reliable it is, how steep the learning curve is, whether it can be used to do other things apart from the main task and how aesthetically pleasing it is.
Generally speaking, the easier and more intuitive a product is to use from the get-go, the more likely it is to be adopted by users who can’t afford to spend countless hours learning how to use a tool.
In short, we can say that usability consists of effectiveness, efficiency, learnability, error prevention, and memorability.
6. A good product offers a great user experience
Usability feeds directly into the user experience.
UX is made up of all the customer interactions with the product throughout their journey.
To provide a good user experience, apart from its usability, work on adaptability, desirability and value.
7. Successful products have personalized onboarding
Personalized user onboarding can greatly enhance the user experience.
To start with, consider that different user segments (depending on their roles or industries) may use your product for different purposes. So the onboarding user flows need to be relevant to each segment’s needs.
Also, some users may be more advanced than others and so need less support.
Want to see a good example? Notion offers branched onboarding experiences based on whether the customer is planning to use it independently or with a team.
8. A good product avoids poor customer service
As we’ve already mentioned, product success depends on the value it provides, which is one of the tenets of product-led growth.
To achieve this, your users must have access to quick and reliable customer and technical support.
This is trickier to do than one might think. Users don’t have time to wait in line for phone support or interact with a chat that gives them incomplete answers or sends them to read the documentation.
That’s why self-service is essential.
Your resource center needs to be easy to navigate and have all the answers your users may need.
9. A great product is scalable
Scalable products are those that can grow. It’s an essential quality to stay relevant in the ever-changing market.
Users’ needs keep changing so you need to be able to upgrade the product to continue delivering value.
What’s more, your product needs to be economically viable.
You need to design your product and processes to be able to deliver the product to an increasing number of users without dramatically increasing your overheads.
10. Good products don’t fall into the build trap
If your product is not selling well or it is not being used enough, you may be tempted to build more features to attract new users.
That’s how you fall into the build trap.
Instead of wasting your development budget on new features, you should concentrate on refining what you already have to enhance the user experience.
Before you commit to developing a new feature, make sure it reinforces your core value. Don’t copy your competitors or start building features for its own sake. Always make sure you build only what connects to the user’s needs.
Talking of meeting customers’ needs, it’s a common mistake to prioritize the most vocal users. They may be your most loyal and committed customers but they are not a representative sample of your user population.
In fact, the so-called power users account only for around 1% of all users. When making decisions about the features to develop, make sure they will benefit your wider user population, not just the 1%.
Finally, be ready to sunset features that don’t bring value anymore.
Getting rid of something that you’ve worked hard to build might be a hard call to make, but if there’s empirical evidence that the feature doesn’t deliver value, sunsetting it will pay off in the long run.
11. A successful product integrates with other products
Integrations are the key to product success.
Instead of diluting your quality, you can easily expand functionality by adding integrations with the right products. By focusing on features solving your core problems, you make your product easier to scale and more sticky.
Users understand well that no product will meet 100% of their needs. That’s why they are more likely to choose products that integrate with other tools in their stack.
12. A good product’s development process is fueled by user feedback
You are trying to build a product that meets the needs of users, so you need their input to inform the product development process.
Research into user needs can help you identify a niche on the market that your product could fill.
Once you release your MVP, user feedback will drive further development of the product.
The latter measures customer loyalty.
If supplemented with qualitative questions, it can help you identify what’s causing friction. You can then tag responses and see which of them correlate to users falling into the detractors’ category.
In-app microsurveys generate faster and more contextual responses compared to traditional long surveys.
There are a few important aspects that contribute to product success. Overall, what makes a successful product is the value it delivers by providing a solution to a user’s problem, combined with a mass appeal.
If you would like to see how Userpilot can help you make your product successful, click on the link to get a demo!