How do you sell features? You don’t. You sell vision and value.
I started the development of my Wells Fargo redesign six months ago. During that time, I created many screens and flows that correlate to tasks. At this point however, it’s time to communicate this work to the c-suite at the company where I developed this redesign. These past two weeks, we created a product strategy and feature brief about our mobile banking app’s development to do just that. Though it’s called a feature brief, I needed to use this document to communicate the vision and value these features will bring, not only to the company, but to the user.
In this assignment, I created a deck that could be used to brief executives or investors about the rationale and strategy regarding my app’s development. You can view the full PDF deck here. It was a great lesson in how to communicate and sell our work to people who aren’t our fellow designers or developers. In the next phase of our education, out in the “real world”, selling our work will be a critical skill to learn.
Research, Insights, & Value Proposition
The driving force behind communicating the rationale for the work is in the research. For this project, we made up our research because it was outside of the scope of our skill development. We’ve learned to do research for many other projects, including both primary, contextual inquiry and secondary research including market and trends analysis. What research did I come up with?
Currently, “millennials are moving away from home at an astounding rate”! This was the crux of my story. I reasoned that because millennials are moving away, they now need to pay bills, and the financial management apps they currently use, like Venmo, are inadequate to manage the recurring payments and other financial needs they’re encountering.
Enter Wells Fargo. The introduction of so many millennials into the banking market is Wells Fargo’s opportunity, I claimed, to develop features that would welcome this new group of users and convince them to use Wells Fargo’s services.
A key part of design research is not only this high level secondary research but also primary research through interviews with individuals. Design research often culminates with developing behavioral insights about users to drive the design of their products. In this case, Wells Fargo’s design research is evidenced in four key insights. Each of my Insight pages explains how research informed the insight, a sample quotation and image of a user, and how this insight will inform product development.
As a result of the insights, we can now define how our product will be valuable for users. This definition of value is clarified through a value proposition, which really is just business jargon for a statement about how a product is valuable for users. My value proposition for Wells Fargo’s redesign is as follows:
Now that we have a sense for our direction, we need to define how we’ll get there. Leading up to this point, I created features that allow users to complete tasks that are necessary and valuable to them in the context of banking via a mobile app. I have everything from viewing an account balance and depositing a check to managing alerts covered in my app’s design. These all are valuable for the app, but how will they be completed?
Two weeks ago, I completed what’s called a product roadmap. This document is the outline we need to demonstrate how to prioritize and sequence all these features’ development. You can read more about the roadmap in this post. In this strategy brief, I need to zoom out, however, and describe more of the rationale of the development from the perspective of adding value for users. It’s not as valuable for an organization to sequence their app’s development for purely technical reasons. How will the product gain traction in the marketplace? If we can create a useful, valuable product and then continue to create releases that build on that value subsequently, we can capture more value sooner.
With an eye to providing value to users as soon as possible in the course of the product’s development, I developed a roadmap strategy that sequences feature development based on the insights and value promise I initially created. By releasing “Quick Access” features, for example, we can help millennials develop affinity for the app early, since we know that these users want instant gratification and instant access to information. Once they have begun using the app more, we will develop the “Create Savings” features so they can begin to address their emerging need for frugality. Later, these users will be using the app and will have savings goals and budgets, and we will release the “Alerts” features in time to help them keep on top of their goals and new financial commitments.
Now that the executive or investor reading this deck has an understanding for the high level rationale for the product’s development, it’s time to provide a glimpse of the features that will help us create value for users. Features, which I am calling capabilities in this deck, are really just tactics. They are not valuable in their own right. This is why we should not attempt to sell features. What is valuable for users is not whether they can look at a screen with good looking graphs but rather that they can quickly develop an understanding of their financial standing. The graphs help support that goal.
For each feature, I provide just a snapshot of the screen. Again, executives do not need to know how users will step through completing a task – they need to understand how it provides value to users. (Unless of course an executive prefers that level of detail, which is another story.) A picture of the feature here provides a visualization to ground understanding of the task itself. The description that accompanies it provides additional narrative of how the feature value.
As designers, we need to both gain a sense for users’ needs and wants and design products that help to fulfill them. Someone needs to know how to communicate the vision for the product in order to fund it. That someone could be the CEO, a product manager, or any number of people. I want to be able to be that person as needed. This project was instrumental in wrapping up the banking app redesign as it cast everything in perspective. The product needs to add value for a user, which should be evidenced by research. The devil is in the details of course, and key features will be necessary to create that value. This product strategy overview and feature brief distills those required elements for a successful product into one document, and it’s a good template to have as we go into the world and create truly great, valuable products for people.