In many cases, a business may tend to think of product design as separate from strategy – first design the product then build the strategy. I have met many people who have built a product and then decided to start thinking about the ways to get that product in the hands of potential customers. But what if we think about design and strategy together, simultaneously?

Imagine how much simpler it would be to create a great strategy if we were thinking about how each element added to a new product will affect the overall user experience and business strategy. With this understanding, it is much easier to hit the target market successfully.

To illustrate this, I created a theoretical example of how design impacts strategy paired with a real world example of how it happened. The information is taken from the Netsetter article and a Mixergy video interview.

Let’s say you are building a software product for an industry that has multiple needs. Everyone in the competition around you is trying to build something that meets many needs marginally, but you keep your focus and strive to diverge. Instead of trying to build a product that meets all those needs, you design a product that meets one or two and create it to be better in the functional areas that are most important.

Take a look at Less Accounting –they hated Quickbooks) and realized they were not the only ones who were thinking the same thing. So they created something simple and feature-light relative to the competition.

Now, assume that you are able to work closely enough with a group of potential customers, so that you can understand their needs. You gain all the information you need about how the product will need to look in order for your potential customers to derive the benefits they seek.*

The application was created to be “as simple as a bookkeeping application can be.” They launched as only an expense tracker and iteratively added new features as they went. To make the user experience better they added bank account integration and live bookkeeping support. A mix of user feedback, consultation with accountants and pure intuition was (and is) used to validate any new feature added to the application, but nothing is created without the end user’s needs in mind.

The first strategic advantage is your time to market, which will be lightning fast compared to other competitors. The second strategic advantage is having the ability to concisely communicate the value proposition and target customers effectively. Since you know what benefits the customers are looking for, you can create simple, yet powerful, marketing material.

“Bookkeeping sucks, we make it suck less.” This is the message that Less Accounting started their marketing efforts with and it resonated with a lot of people.

The third strategic advantage will come as your message spreads rapidly because it will be easy for people to both communicate and see the value in your product, meaning word-of-mouth advertising will be strong and there will be less need to send a more convoluted message through multiple channels.

Check the Twitter feed to see all the feedback they receive. They don’t spend money on banner ads or SEO – they make sure the user experience is fantastic and let the rest take care of itself.

Overall, having a strategic focus right from the beginning can save a lot of headaches down the road and greatly increase the probability of success. If you’re a software or web app developer who needs a little help on the business strategy side, fire us an email.

PS: I did some serious research on LessAccounting for this blog, and it seems like it could be great for a small business. It is built in the US, so some features are not optimized for Canadian companies, but it is functionally very appealing. I am thinking of giving it a demo in the near future – let me know if any of you have tried it.


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Our days are defined by a series of interactions with objects – from the moment we wake up and hit the snooze button on the alarm clock to the moment we flick off the light and say good night. Each day we interact with a countless number of products that were all designed with a purpose at some point in time. In some ways, these objects define our existence, as without them we would not be able to do what we do best.

Each product, service or process ever created was designed to theoretically enhance a group of people’s lives in some way or another. But how many of them actually do?

The simple truth is that countless numbers of products miss their target completely and end up flopping. While there are numerous factors that could potentially derail a product from becoming successful, in many cases it comes down to design.

When people engage and interact with a product, what they are really doing is immersing themselves in an experience. Though often times we think people buy products for the bells and whistles, the underlying reason behind their purchase is actually for the core benefits they derive from the experience.

Let’s say that a product can be designed in two potential ways:

  • As a complex, feature-laden product that addressed all of the possible needs of a broad market;
  • Or as a simple, easy-to-use product where the benefits to a smaller group of people were immediately visible.

In this scenario, the simple product will win again and again.

A great example to look at is software. Many of the software products that we use on a day-to-day basis are simple, clean, intuitive and as easy-to-use as possible given their functionality (I know there are a lot that are not like this as well). Think about applications like Skype , Firefox and Dropbox. They all provide a lot of value without sacrificing simplicity. What we don’t see, however, is the countless number of applications or software products that have not made it because people didn’t buy them. Each of the software examples above were not the first products to come out in their respective product classes, but they were the first to provide outstanding utility to users by making it easy to derive benefits from using the product.

So how can a company nail its product design?

There are a number of world-class design consultancies that are often worth their weight in gold. But even before taking that step, a company should try to understand its market. This does not mean conducting extensive market research to try and find what people want. Instead, a company should try to discover the benefits from the products already being offered, and how its product can add more value to the user experience. This is something we do here at Lumos.

With this insight, companies can begin designing a product that matches the needs of the market. Simplified, thoughtful, well-designed products have the ability to break open new markets, make the competition obsolete and produce margins that bolster a company’s bottom-line. The value of well-designed products that maximize user experience is felt by everyone throughout the whole product pipeline – from the designer all the way down to the end user – and that’s the power of design.


+ Business Model Breakdown: Crowdfunding
+ Strategy Sessions

Crowdfunding Strategy – Summary


Trends and Research – Summary


Read about our collaborative Process

+ Twitter : @LumosBusiness

+ Pinterest : Visualize Trends

+ Discuss : OPEN forum

+ Google + : Hangout

+ RSS : Subscribe