Lost without a product roadmap?
Don’t worry. We’ve collected the advice of successful product managers to create this 3-step approach for methodically prioritizing product features.
We actually practice this hybrid process at UXPin with our own product and UX teams.
In this piece, we’ll explain:
- How to first think of features in terms of themes
- How to break down themes into projects
- How to rank each project collaboratively for maximum impact.
Step 1: Prioritize Goals as Themes
Sometimes the difficulty with prioritizing product features lies in prioritizing your goals first.
We first learned of this tactic through Ian McAllister, former Product Director at Amazon.
First, determine the most important themes for your company/project at this given stage. Themes could be anything from increasing conversions, increasing time on site, or increasing average spending. For example, a web service that just launched might be more focused on pure trial conversions than revenue.
Once you’ve mapped out your themes, pick just 3 based on pressing pain points.
For example, if your web app is bleeding users on a weekly basis, conversion optimization on your marketing site can wait. Instead, you’d want to focus on “Reduce Churn” and “Acquire Users” so that you can fix your user funnel.
Step 2: Kano Analysis
Created by Noriaki Kano in the 80s, the prioritization technique still remains relevant thirty years later.
Within each of the three themes, create specific projects (e.g. User Onboarding and In-App Messaging would fall under “Reduce Churn”). Next, categorize all projects based on Scott Selhorst’s advice:
- Must-haves — The essential features of a product — without these, the user wouldn’t bother with the product.
- More is better — Bigger, faster, stronger, etc. Improving existing features by increasing their capacities
- Surprise and delight — Features that increase enjoyment more than usability, and commonly distinguish a product from its competitors.
From there, you should start thinking about the categories accordingly:
- Must-haves should generally launch in the first release.
- More is better can be prioritized based on ROI. The first version can have a minimum capacity, with the opportunity to increase in later launches.
- Surprise and delight have different values depending on the product. They are more important for word-of-mouth marketing and products where the end-users make the purchasing decision.
Once you have the categories of the projects briefly outlined, it’s time to assign formal ranking numbers to each project.
The ranking will help you understand the real value of each project in the different categories.