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Our Guiding Principles on How to Build Great Digital Products

By Sudeep Srivastav
February 21, 2020 5. min read
Last update on: June 2, 2020

For any Startup or company, guiding principles should not be an afterthought. It is a prerequisite. 

‘Guiding Principles’ is a broad concept. It encompasses personal beliefs, values and guides an organisation in all situations throughout its life, irrespective of the changes in its goals, strategies, and objectives. 

Principles are the very cornerstone of an organization. To run a successful venture it is important to define your values and guiding principles. It also cultivates a culture where everyone knows what matters. 

Employees do get a sense of an organisation’s philosophy through observation and inference, but it is essential for them to have a clear understanding of the priorities and goals in order to know how to act in a million different situations. That’s why having a set of guiding principles is extremely crucial. 

When one team heavily relies on a certain set of principles while another operates on a different set of principles, it results in a haphazard way of software development. 

Guiding principles not only aligns teams, it is the best way to scale a team. It ensures that an organisation is working as a unified whole to drive great results. Principles help us to repeat behaviours. Without a set of principles, any organisation would begin to falter.

At Appinventiv, we refer to our principles a lot. They guide us in all phases and stages of product development and help us build quality solutions. We also update them yearly to make sure they still represent our best ideas and continue to guide us towards the results we want.

We have some R&D principles, product design and development principles that guide us throughout our digital product journey. Since we follow the cross-functional team approach to product development, everyone has a comprehensive understanding of the basic guiding principles and the principles specific to their domain. 

R&D Principles 

R&D Principles

Ditch the solution-first mindset and Start with the Why 

We begin by deeply understanding your problem. A solution-first mindset is a wrong approach to product development without knowing the core of the problem. It can lead to missing out on potentially viable solutions that generate better results and deliver the exact value that we expect.

Through years of experience and market understanding, we have identified that problems are harder to articulate. And it is extremely crucial that the problem is adequately formulated.

That is why throughout our process, the why is persistent to evolve the understanding of the problem.

We believe in Scoping the project to the ultimate depths so that we don’t miss out on any details. We begin by Discovery and start research on the right foot. We breakdown the problem and then with a product mindset, devise ways to build the best possible solution. 

Our research always skews towards a deeper understanding of the user. It helps us discover opportunities as to how a problem can be addressed with different features which delivers significantly more value in less efforts. 

We work with a relentless pursuit to bring value to the customers and businesses through continuous exploratory research. 

There is no one size that fits all

In this fast-paced world, speed and agility have become the need of the hour. For this ultimate pursuit, we are always rethinking the way we carry out the most time-consuming product development steps and how we can eliminate failures at the very beginning. 

We believe that there is no one size that fits all. And that is why at Appinventiv, we consider a Design Sprint process fundamental to the development of any digital product. It helps us unravel unique perspectives on how to tackle the problem in the best possible manner. 

It is almost like a ‘zero-based’ approach, where we find answers to the most pressing concerns through rapid prototyping in a span of a few days. We validate assumptions with real users and through this unique process ensure that your breakthrough idea lives up to its potential. A Design Sprint provides guaranteed results 10x faster than any other approach.

Innovation Culture

We believe that digitalisation and innovation are decisive factors in business development. That’s why we invest significant amount of time and resources not only in product development, but also in establishing innovation labs and cultivating an Innovation culture. 

We balance the scientific rigour of Lean and agile with a creative process. It entails fostering a vibrant environment where creativity can thrive and innovators are not discouraged from thinking outside the box. 

We have established Innovation labs to address the key challenges of digital disruption and to create anything from a new product or service to a new technology or business model. 

We have standardised processes that enable efficient and scientific evaluation of new ideas. We have SMEs for every niche of product development. Our SMEs work with a product mindset and  have experience working with ride hailing giants like Uber and Ola. They foster a unique innovation culture in the company and through lean innovation build market-leading products and services and scale them to new heights. 

Optimize the Whole 

Every organisation has a value stream, meaning there are a sequence of activities that need to be performed( design, development and testing) before delivering the product to the client. 

Our goal is to deliver as much value as possible quickly to our customers.Therefore, we believe in optimizing the whole process. Suboptimization becomes a problem in software development. By optimising the whole process, we eliminate vicious cycles especially between development and testing. 

We look at things holistically, believe in the DevOps culture and it helps us to better understand the capacity of other departments and disciplines. 

After recognising how value flows through digital product development, we have structured software development teams to be independent, multi-disciplined and cross-functional. We regularly review our production-development models and by eliminating suboptimization we have significantly reduced the market time.

Design Principles 

Design Principles

Design should always be Human Centered 

At Appinventiv, we believe in humanising technology and therefore the user is at the center of our design process.

Human-centered design is one of our fundamental design principles. Over the years we have noticed that users don’t really remember everything that they come across but what they don’t really forget is how they felt when using a digital product. 

We ensure that our products elicit some emotions when a user engages with it. Throughout the design process, our emphasis lies on building a deep empathy with the users. The user journey seamlessly weaves together every visual element and we build products that renders a genuinely satisfying experience to the users. 

Be Simple and Easy to Use 

With years of experience, we have identified that customers don’t want to think when navigating through an application. So, we craft designs that seamlessly guide users in performing the desired action, without much thought.

We always strive to make infinitely complex things simpler and comprehensible for the users. Our designs are user-friendly and make use of already used components, colours, and behaviours to provide clarity to the users. 

An Optimal Combination

Being unconventional in design is stressed often but it is crucial to strike the right balance between usability and creativity. Over the years, we have learnt when to let our creative juices flow and where to accommodate familiar design patterns.  

Our designs are an optimal combination of usability and innovation. The key is to be unconventional but in moderation. 

Consistency 

Consistency is a fundamental design principle that we truly abide by. Consistency in a digital product interface ensures that users can easily navigate without thinking too much. Delivering a smooth experience becomes all the more easy when users recognize consistently used UI elements. 

If the design is familiar users easily adapt to the product which enhances the overall experience.

Experience is the product

We believe that a good design practice essentially implies a good product management practice. A digital product is basically a user experience, wrapped around some business logic and coupled with data.  

When we build innovative solutions our focus lies in organizing around how customers experience their products and services. We believe a product is nothing but an experience. Our Product Managers work with a product mindset to deliver a truly delightful experience to the users. 

Development Principles 

Development Principles

Agile thinking

We believe agile is not just a method but a way of thinking. To accelerate the pace of innovation and market new products quickly, we practice agile development and thinking. Through agile we empower teams to iteratively turn ideas into a million users’ reality.

Despite where we are at the development pipeline, we welcome change. Basically, agile allows us to be nimble. The agile way of functioning helps us eliminate inefficiencies and ensures everything is aligned. 

Ship to learn 

We believe that the sooner you ship, the sooner you get feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Rapidly building and launching an MVP into the market helps to test the waters. We take user feedback into keen consideration and iteratively build a product. 

Shipping product is not the end but the beginning of a process. Giving users a basic functionality product, observing how they engage and iterating from thereon helps in building a robust solution. 

Collaboration across disciplines 

Building a digital product requires team effort.  We harness the power of cross- functional teams to grow with agility and speed and deliver meaningful experiences . 

 By mutually exploring the prospects of a project, it becomes easy to brainstorm ideas, uncovering unique perspectives, and channeling an umbrella of expertise towards building quality digital solutions. 

Collaborating across disciplines throughout the product development lifecycle helps us minimizes handovers and speeds up the processes. 

Conclusion

While a few of these aren’t principles essentially, but practices that we follow on a day to day basis, they still represent our best ideas. These organisational values have guided us in all phases and stages of development. 

Our relentless pursuit has always been to be the best in digital product development and these principles act as a guiding light to redefine digital experiences and build quality digital products.

Sudeep Srivastav
Sudeep Srivastav
CEO, Appinventiv
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