If you were asked to name a great product, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Depending on who was asked the question, the answer will be different as well. You may even receive as many responses as the number of people you posed the question to. The reason for this is fairly evident, too. A good product depends very much on its value to the user. How does one determine this value though? What do we look for when we choose one product over another product with similar functions?
Does it solve a problem?
Take a look around your house. Chances are that everything you lay eyes on, is there to solve a particular problem, even if you never really think about it. Walk in your kitchen, the sink and tap are for the purpose of cleaning utensils, your pans are there to cook food, the stove is there to provide heat for cooking, the fridge keeps perishables fresh.
...everything you lay eyes on, is there to solve a particular problem, even if you never really think about it.
Each of these solves a concrete problem, which is why they have stood the test of time. Technology products face a similar situation. If they don’t solve a problem, they will not be considered a good product.
Let’s look at three of the best used product types in the market today.
Social: While on the surface you may consider that social apps don't solve a particular problem, if that were the case why are they so popular? Many social platforms tap into our need to feel like a part of a group, give us the ability to keep in touch, and utilise that we are social animals that need to feel acceptance, approval, and friendship to maintain a healthy psyche.
Banking: a rarely talked about but widely used set of applications. Nearly every bank of note has their own branded application, and nearly every client has used this application. Banking applications make our lives easier by making it faster and simpler to access our funds and complete transactions without ever needing to physically visit a bank.
Education: take,for example, a language learning product. If we, as users, didn’t have a reason to learn other languages, these products would cease to exist in a heartbeat. They are solely available in the market to fulfil the needs of language students, or travelers, etc., who wish to learn more about different languages and cultures.
Is it multifunctional?
An application that provides the solution to one single problem will soon find itself being replaced by more efficient applications. Let’s look at our examples above. Would you be interested in a social platform that only allowed you to post pictures but wouldn’t let others comment? Or will not show you updates from your friends? Or has no private and group messaging features? How about in a banking product? Would it be useful if you could only see your bank balance? Or if you consider a language app, does it provide the ability to learn many languages, in different methods? If it doesn’t, would you still be using it? You will find that most popular products don’t only solve one particular problem but assist us in solving problems that exist around that as well, and thereby make themselves more useful.
Is it easy to understand and use?
I find that this aspect of determining a good product is one that truly polarises users. How do we judge if a product is easy to understand? Ask your parents to use it. Chances are if they can make use of the product, as intended, the product is straightforward and easy to understand.
“Can the target market understand and use the product, as intended, fairly easily?”
However, as mentioned some popular products in the market now are fairly focused towards a particular demographic, and may therefore fail the parents test. In this case, we need to ask ourselves, “Can the target market understand and use the product, as intended, fairly easily?” If the answer is yes, then the product can be considered successful, but to make it truly a good product it must bear relevance to as wide an audience as possible.
Does it stand out from the competition?
Another striking feature of a good product is its uniqueness. If you create a product that looks and works almost similar to your competition, then what compels users to use your product over the rivals? In the best case you will both have an equal number of users, and that too depends on you both launching it at the same time. Great products come into the market and shout out to be noticed. They generate veritable storms of interest and attract users by their unique value offerings. Look at the social platforms of the past, each of them was successful during their time, but were swept away when something newer and better came along. A good application has the same effect on any competition due to its uniqueness and value proposition.
Does it have credibility?
The last factor we will discuss may lean more on your organisation, than on the product alone. If your organisation has continuously kept a good rapport with society, has amazing reviews, or in the case of a startup if your team has a good standing in the community, chances are that people will be more willing to look at your product, and if they find it useful help you through organic growth and promotion. If you have then built a product following the earlier principles, your product has a high chance of adoption and market penetration, making it a successful product.
In addition to the above, there are a few more things that make a product good. A great user experience is foremost among them. Many products launched on the market, especially those for entertainment capture the market by providing a great user experience. Habit creation is another trademark of good products. Whether used negatively or positively, good products can promote their usage. A simple example of this is how gaming products give users a daily login bonus. Or how some language apps give a streak bonus to encourage daily usage. A more complex example is how music or video products learn and cater better to a user’s taste the more they are used.
A good product requires a combination of many factors. It must be able to solve a real problem or satisfy a real need in society. However, solving a single problem rarely makes a product standout from its competition, and therefore a good product is multifunctional, addressing different but connected needs of users. A good product is easy to understand and use, this may however depend on the target demographic. To capture the market a good product relies on uniqueness and on credibility. Credibility can be built over time, or depending on your organisation, it may be something you already possess.