A product is a solution to a customer problem. Whilst this definition may seem simplistic, it applies for most products and services. A website is a tool that solves customer problems and can be defined as a product with a lifecycle and a roadmap.
What sort of problems?
From a customer perspective: A website solves a specific problem or requirement. These can be categorised as follows:
- Learn: Share information about new products or services, announcements etc
- Interact: Users can carry out functions via a website, such as online banking
- Transact: The sale and purchase of other products or services, such as online grocery shopping
- Share: Users can share information with others, such as posting up reviews about movies
- Connect: Users can meet and connect with other individuals who share similar views and opinions
From the provider’s perspective: A website is a tool that facilitates interactions between the provider and customer, or between customers and other customers. Providers will seek a return, either financially or in some other form of value (e.g. information, feedback) from customers. A financial return can be direct (e.g. purchase) or indirect (e.g. online advertising on a site).
Applying the Product Delivery Development method when creating a website
The Brainmates product delivery development can be used to illustrate how a website is a product by investigating the actions and outputs of each stage.
- Idea: All websites commence with an idea – how will this site serve a customer requirement and how will it benefit the provider?
- Product strategy: What is the overall goal of launching the site, how does it fit in with the other aspects of the provider’s strategy? What specific requirements do customers have and how will these be solved? A business case will be developed to green light the next stage.
- Product planning: What does the market want? The problems and requirements and how these could be solved for the customer will be record in a Market Requirements Document.
- Product definition: The stage in which the structure and practical elements of how the product will solve the market problems. What it will offer, what functions are required and what business processes are involved will be recorded in a Product, or Website Requirements Document.
- Launch planning: Whilst design and development takes place, an implementation plan can be prepared. In the case of a website, this outlines the steps required to develop and bring content such as copy and images together.
- Launch: Websites like any other product must be launched and this involves elements of marketing and communication to make existing and new customers aware of the site.
- Day to day management: Reporting is a key component of managing a product on a day to day basis is also necessary when managing a website. If you treat a website like a product, you’ll not only report on the analytics but will consider the financial drivers. Importantly, the focus must continue as all sites have a product lifecycle and must be continually refined and updated to remain relevant and compelling for customers. This feeds back into the ongoing day-to-day product management of the site.
By regarding a website as a product, from its inception and development through to its ongoing management, you will make it more compelling and relevant to its audience.