Design: small word, big concept

December 11, 2018

Harry Harrold of Neontribe, our long term development partner, completes our trilogy by setting design into the context of product management.

Seeking balance: usability, feasibility, desirability

Good product management is ensuring that three sometimes conflicting influences on our decision-making are balanced. These influences are usability, feasibility and desirability.
Whether our users are young people, workers, or those who support them, it is crucial that we help them achieve the outcomes they are looking for from using our products. How smooth, intuitive and delightful is the experience of using the Mind Of My Own products?
We have to consider whether it is practical to implement a feature or improvement with our current technology. Even if it is it might it open up a security issue, or make future improvements harder to implement.
Any new feature has to support the outcomes that our customers will pay for. Mind Of My Own is an organisation that aims to help young people make their voices heard for years to come and in order to do so, we must deliver value.

The three influences are intertwined

Usability is crucial, but not paramount. We can always improve the usability of our products, but we must ensure that our efforts fit into a sustainable program of investment and do not make our future developments take longer than necessary to deliver. The pace of our development means our users should not wait too long for improvements.
The focus on feasibility is guided by our intent to be around for the long term. If Mind Of My Own were a fixed duration project, or a proof of concept, we might not be as concerned about the future impact of a technology decision. We might well decide not to worry overmuch about, say, the availability of long term support for a key piece of infrastructure. We’ve seen other organisations say “Yes” to feature requests that tie them up in knots in the longer term, slowing the pace of improvements to the extent that it is simply no longer possible to make them. Our product management is determined not to see this happen to Mind Of My Own.
Desirability means we need to stay ahead of the curve of what people expect. We are confident we are ahead now. We are delighted by how engaged our customers are with us, ensuring we stay there. All through the year, but especially at Mind Of My OwnCon, we see and hear from them and it is their enthusiasm that inspires us.

Small word, big concept

Design is a little word that works extremely hard. The underlying design of our technology is where our development partners at Neontribe take care to ensure our products are secure and treat our users’ data with great care. User experience design is where we work alongside our developers and design colleagues to solve the problems we identify through our user research and co-production. Graphic design is where independent designers such as Big Brand Ideas and selected freelancers ensure the appearance of our product set remains fresh and appealing. Finally, there’s the service design of using Mind Of My Own apps in the daily work of ensuring young people’s voices are at the heart of decisions made by the professionals who work with them.

Product management

This is a product manager’s approach to design. We make design decisions with an eye to ensuring their impact on the usability, feasibility and desirability of the product set is balanced at all levels. We are delighted by the results: happy customers and young people using our apps to get their voices heard.

This is the third in a series about Mind Of My Own’s product design. See also:

Mind Of My Own design principles: our ten top tips

The architect, the photographer and Mind Of My Own