Product design is a comprehensive process. It can be hard to spot product design mistakes amidst all the elements. Hiring a specialized design team to craft your product design holistically will give you extra support in surveilling mistakes. However, nothing is foolproof in the innovative business of entrepreneurialism.
As the founder of your digital product, you are already engaged in a high-stakes juggling act as you make your product dream into a reality. Don't let common product design mistakes throw you off balance!
Get the low-down on the most common product design mistakes before you start to build your product from the ground up.
Common Product Design Mistakes to Avoid
Whether you’re a bootstrapping, moonlighting, or a first-time entrepreneur, you’ve got enough to deal with while building your digital product. Your million-dollar idea is on the line, so you want everything to go as planned! In fact, you don’t have any extra time – or money – for things to go awry.
The best way to build a digital product is to build it holistically, which will simultaneously help you avoid most of the common product design mistakes.
I’ve seen many product designs through to fruition (check out our product design case studies). I’ve worked with plenty of industries, yet see the same product design mistakes no matter what the niche is.
That doesn't mean you should lose sleep over potential product design mistakes. If you trust the designers you're working with (avoiding mistake #2), they'll be by your side to iron out anything that pops up.
Remember to stay positive and stay mindful of your motivation. To transform your idea, your mindset needs to be positive and forward-facing. Be aware of these mistakes, but just enough to steer clear of them!
Mistake #1: Going into design mode without doing your research
Thinking that your product design is independent of the success of the product is the worst product design mistake I see entrepreneurs make.
UX and UI are indispensable to the success of a digital product. Great design can even affect users on a neurological level! Customers can identify your brand identity and even the most popular features with your product design alone.
However, some entrepreneurs miss the fact that without doing user research and strategy beforehand, UX/UI will be significantly less effective.
After all, how can you provide a great digital experience to your user if you don’t know their demographics, behaviors, and priorities?
How can you make the design of your product stand out amongst competitors if you haven’t researched them?
Remedy #1: Get the information that will make your product design effective and emotion-provoking. Product roadmapping is the best way to nail down buyer personas, brand priorities and features. It can even the best route to lead your target audience through your funnel.
Mistake #2: Hiring design freelancers that work for you, not with you
As someone who’s bootstrapped a few of my own products, I understand how tempting it is to hire a ‘good enough’ design team. However, what you save now could cost you later when you’re trying to fix the next of the product design mistakes on our list.
If you hire designers that need your instructions for every task, it will not be an adaptable team. These types of designers are working for you, not with you. As a busy entrepreneur, you have enough on your plate.
Fundraising start-ups of digital products are often challenged to adapt to new markets or suddenly-appearing trends with every investor meeting. If your design team can’t handle these pivots on their own, you’ll suffer from the stress of trying to manage the team at the same time as the rest of your start-up.
You need a design team that is dedicated, creative, and flexible when it comes to product design.
Remedy #2: When looking for a design team, ask about their flexibility when it comes to product design solutions. Can they come up with solutions (on their own) that are aligned with your product’s purpose and marketing? If not, it’s not the team for you.
Ideally, your design team should be as dedicated as you are. They should be enthusiastic about making your product the best it can be, which sometimes requires pivoting – and always requires creativity.
Mistake #3: Running yourself ragged
Although I’ve never seen this product design mistake in any articles, I’ve (unfortunately) seen it play out a few times in real life. Entrepreneurs are so devoted to their product that they often forget to take care of the most important element of it – themselves.
You may think that you can get through the product build running on empty, promising to take care of yourself after you hit whatever milestone. However, plowing through product design without giving yourself space to recuperate is one of the most harmful product design mistakes you can make.
Once you run out of space to take care of yourself, that negative energy carries over to the product.
Whether you start stressing your design team or you start doubting that your product is special (it is!), it’s a lose-lose situation. You’ll feel worse and your product will be worse because of it.
You are the visionary of your product. Without you, this idea would never even exist! If you neglect your mental and physical health, the product itself will never exist. That’s why practicing self-care is a must not only for you, but for your product design as well.
Remedy #3: Remember the impact that you’re trying to make on the world. If you’re at your physical and mental limit, you won’t have the capacity to make that impact. Take time for yourself and schedule some “disconnect” time. Let your autonomous design team take care of things for you while you take care of yourself.
Mistake #4: Thinking that great product design alone will win investments
The internet has tons of great articles about how emotional design can help your digital product succeed. What those articles omit (and what the fourth most common product design mistake teaches us) is that good design isn’t the only thing you need to win funding.
Gaining traction to your product before entering fundraising rounds can vastly improve your chances at winning investments.
Some entrepreneurs may not think gaining traction is an important part of product design. They prefer to release their product after they’ve raised funds, using the money to pay for heavy advertising.
However, while advertising will bring customers to your digital product, it isn’t what convinces them to buy your product. As I’ve said before, if your product is designed specifically for your target users, it will naturally guide them down your sales funnel.
You can’t prove to investors that your product design is effective without showing them results. Traction proves that your product idea is working for who it’s intended to work for. It proves that it will be profitable (an investor’s dream); the customers are already dying to use it!
Remedy #4: Focusing on gaining traction to your digital product should always be a phase in the product design process. If you’re unsure about releasing your product before winning investments, consider the initial traction-gaining phase as a test release. It’ll take some of the stress off while providing valuable insight into the effectiveness of your product design.
Mistake #5: Creating a marketing plan separate from your product design
If you believe that figuring out how to market your product is a separate process from product design, then you are committing a common product design mistake.
When you design a product holistically, the marketing message of your product should be embedded within your design. That is how you sustain interest and loyalty to your product!
Your digital product holds lots of potential space to speak to your customers and convince them to use your product. Missing the chance to tie marketing messages into your product design is not only a huge missed opportunity, but also weakens your product's identity.
With your product design, you're making a statement to users about how your product will solve their specific problem better than your competitors. Use that statement to drive home the marketing messages you want to identify your product!
Remedy #5: Emotional product design is THE best way to identify your brand as well as your marketing message. Use your product design to influence users to feel the way you want your product to make them feel. As you develop your ideas for product design, the marketing plan should be built within it.
Final Take-aways on Product Design for Start-ups
I've said it numerous times, but it deserves repeating: as a digital product founder, you're busy. I realize that my advice is another thing to keep track of – unless you boil it down to my simplest, most important message.
If you build your product design holistically, you'll have all your bases covered. Don't forget that YOU are one of the most important elements, too!