Managing A Successful Product Review Process Pt. I

A unique idea is what separates a successful product from a failed one. But does it? Ideas and trends tend to spiral its way back to top by what seems to be the work of magic. Remember the snapback hat boom in the 90s brought on by the NWA influence? And then they went out to come back couple years ago and now they’re bigger than ever.

The idea remained the same. What’s changed though was the execution, the quality of the content, and the context. Some things never make a comeback. Like beer koozies. The hipster culture tends to bring old things back, but when the sole purpose of such a revival is the revival itself, it has no business value and can’t be taken seriously.

So what are these ultimate markers of concealed success? What are the add-ons you can deploy to reveal the hidden potential of your product? How does your website or mobile app match up against the competition and what are the ways to improve its status? None of these can be answered without and extensive product review.

Product Review Process At Shakuro

One of the core services we provide as a digital agency is product review that can be either restricted by code review along, or performed as an thorough all-around technical and usability review. Generally, product review is a set of actions toward analyzing all the data collected throughout the product’s life cycle, as well as the functional usability and user appeal rates.  

The results of a review are a valuable source of information on where specifically your product can be improved, and which features are MIA. Also they help estimate the resources required for products scoping, and give a good ground for the successful prognosis.

In order to be trustworthy and legit, the analysis has to be based upon some fundamental principles with the inevitable output delivered in form of a Product Review Report. So the following are some of our insights on how to put together a successful product review.

1. Do The Deep Product Research

Often times seeing the end product and figuring out how it works won’t take too long. Obviously, all the web and mobile apps are intended for people to start using them immediately without deciphering it too much, because “ain’t nobody got time fo dat”. But that’s not what we are after. Deep product analysis requires a complete transparency in all things related to the product’s operation, builds history, analytics, and test data.

This is a must and all sorts of non-disclosure deals are there to protect your commercial confidentiality if necessary. We never expect our clients to be aware of all the intricacies of the review itself, so we provide a clean and simple review rider, explaining how the product review process is managed on the high level and which data and metrics we require and why. The time spent on the assembly of that data is not wasted, but used as a chance to evaluate the product from the UX standpoint and designwise.

This is an important initial effort, so certain amount of patience is required from both sides.

2. Review The Code

Code review is one of the pillars of a product review allowing you to:

  • Debug the code.  
  • Determine code readability and maintainability.
  • Reduce the bus factor.
  • Improve code quality and development speed.
  • Save on testing.

An important thing to point out is the fact that code review is not a subjective evaluation and argument over style and formatting. Instead, it is a technical task that is performed via different tools measuring whether the code is correct, legible, and maintainable.

Also there is no place for the “Us Vs. Them” attitude as the purpose of any review is to optimize the product, find ways to improve, learn, and perfect the skills along the way. We adopt positive attitude and only provide constructive critisizm to build the relationships of trust.

There is definitely no witch hunt either, as when the code is good, we’ll be the first to point that out. What really helps here is the context in which the code is being written, that includes all the specs and tickets where specific comments are applied to help grasp the message.

3. No “Delete & Start Over” Policy

We do not consider extremities to be valuable feedback. That means we provide a detailed summary of things we consider to require modifications. The general feedback is good in terms of effort estimation, but technical details are important for deeper understanding of the product.

Concerning design patterns it’s the same – vague comments like “redesign it” or “start over” don’t work as they present no real solution and might make a client think the review is not profound and taken seriously.  We believe that explaining why is as important as figuring out what to fix, moreover we make sure we are the ones to fix it best.

4. Review Product From A User Standpoint

Following material design guidelines, using grid systems, pixels, and so on… These are all cool, but a user does not necessarily need to know the UI terms. So does a client. We make sure our reviews are explanatory and not filled with industry-specific terms, but instead, have exhibiting user stories to demonstrate the points.

Same goes with the UX. A user does not need to know what he’s dealing with is anticipatory design. What they do know is whether the web or mobile application is helpful in accomplishing their task and if the experience is a pleasant one. Rules and regulations make no sense unless they are addressed properly, so whenever we review the UX, we keep it to the core functionality, pragmatism, and appeal. So the reports we provide reflect that without fancy terminology.

5. Prioritize Review Results Implementation

At times dealing with dated websites, or older version apps, we come up with an extensive review and an implementation plan that might overwhelm our client with the body of work to be done. Gradual change is only possible when structured right, otherwise you may end up with an older version taken down and the newer version still in works.

By giving the client our feedback, we imply that things we offer to change/repair/add can be done in a certain priority order. This means we maintain the website/app operability for as long as possible while working on things behind the curtain. The idea is to create a perfect scenario and implement it seamlessly without losing any momentum.

6. Product Review Presentation, Obviously

The actual analysis even though it’s the hardest part, is only a half way. The ability to present a Product Review is a different animal. A good presentation has to be brief and concise, yet informative enough to speak for the entire work you have done. A lot depends on the delivery, so scheduling a conference call and preparing an energetic presentation is a huge asset, as well as the ability to answer the questions clients will most likely be asking during the presentation. The report itself is presented in a printable format, structured for easy navigation, and detailed enough to be perceived as a real thesis, as this is the output of the hours you and your team have put in.

Our designers and developers are capable of performing this type of product review at any time. We believe this is a good way to start a new partnership and get to know each other.

Typically, we charge $500 for an extensive web or mobile application review, but rates may vary depending on the engagement model we agree on.

So feel free to contact us and tell about your product!

To be continued…