Feature Prioritization: Our Approach

Photo from Unsplash.com, of a hand holding an iphone showing many apps. Taken by saulo-mohana-77106

Pick up your phone. What is your first instinct? If you’re like most people, you’ll gravitate towards opening an application. But after opening the app, what do you do? You log onto your user account; you send a message; you perform a function. Contrary to the belief of many users, a feature isn’t just an icon that represents a specific function, it’s the app’s ability and functionality to perform that function. Depending on the app and the team behind its creation, each step of that function could be a feature in itself. When you think about it, that’s a whole lot of features. How do you decide what to tackle first?

Be Sure to Stay on the Same Page

Often what we hear from clients is a feature wish-list of sorts. Understandably, most clients want to have as many features as possible to make the user experience of their app top-notch. But will the features on the wish list actually make for a more user-friendly and intuitive experience? How much time (and thus, money) will go into building each feature?

Before we can even dive into building features, we take the time to fully understand a client’s goals and brand. We review company history and values, brand guidelines, and analytical data before discussing business goals the implementation of the new product hopes to achieve.

Once we have a better understanding of the holistic picture, we discuss which features are absolutely necessary and feasible for the version of an app we’re working on. During this process, we conduct thorough brainstorming sessions (which include everything from stakeholder interviews to whiteboarding exercises) to better understand the desired goal for the end-product.  Our design team goes through the process of wireframing and mocking up prototypes of key screens. We test what work we’ve produced with real users to obtain preliminary feedback that allows us to make data driven decisions.

Consider the Platform

When was the last time you updated your smartphone’s or computer’s OS? Did you notice anything different while going about your business with your go-to apps? How a software is designed and built in a Native app definitely affects how a user interacts with specific features and the overall experience.  When we’re partnering to build a great product, this is quite possibly one of the most important things to consider. Beyond the user, we have to think of the platform the user will have to interact with the app and how things work on the backend. Once we have the wish list, we consider how each feature will play a role for a client’s target user and whichever platforms they primarily use.

Consider the Roadmap

Once we know which features our design and development teams will need to implement while building the product, we set out to design a comprehensive roadmap detailing how we’ll reach goals over a period of time (which we’ve agreed upon with the client, of course). We use the Agile methodology for our product process and deliver updated work in short predefined increments (e.g. 2 weeks), called sprints. At the end of each sprint, we insist on detailed, candid, and constructive feedback from our clients. This helps us as we move forward with a project to continually reassess each feature we’re approaching in the next sprint and the time and budget available.

Set Your Client Up for Success

To our team here at Raizlabs, a successful product isn’t simply defined as an app that receives numerous 5 star ratings and reviews in the App Store, and even awards (though apps we’ve created have won them), but rather an ongoing user experience that is enjoyable and easy. When we consider features and prioritization, it’s important that our considerations set up clients and their users for success. While we do provide ongoing delivery and support for clients who choose to opt in to those services, we do all we can to ensure that a client’s team is prepared to hit the ground running with the tools we’ve passed along to them.

As you approach a project, remember that the feature list and all of the variables that go into prioritization: user feedback and analytics, desired platform, the roadmap for the future, and a team’s capabilities. More importantly, remember that the most crucial step to feature prioritization is open communication. We consider our clients true partners in the product experience and keeping the conversation going through the process and remaining open to feedback has proven to be a key component of what makes our process successful.

If you’re interested in learning more about our product building process and how we work, please get in touch.