Difference between a product and a product that sells

Paul López
Oct 12, 2023
What about the perfect website?

A well-designed product doesn’t always sell; something that took me a while to grasp as a designer is that a product’s design isn’t everything and doesn’t guarantee its success.

When we kicked off PlannerEat, my obsession was making everything look pro: the social media videos, the company website, and, most importantly, the platform we were about to develop. To me, everything had to showcase my expertise as a designer or product manager. It wasn’t feasible that, after five years in the design field, I’d put out something that didn’t measure up.

I must say, we achieved an impressively professional outcome. We considered the entire usage process, how users would perceive things, the tone we’d use. However, the number of users visiting our website or using our platform was quite low compared to the time we invested.

I spent countless hours searching for the reason we weren’t reaching more people. I did everything I thought needed changing in the design, the wording we used everywhere, but nothing clicked. After much time, it hit me that the problem lies in a product not solely depending on being well-designed; it requires various factors in its environment to sell.PlannerEat addressed a difficulty we all face, but no one in the target segment wanted to pay to solve it.

The first step to resolving this is understanding the value your user sees in the solution you’re offering. If they don’t feel that what you have truly solves their problem, they won’t spend a dollar on it. On the flip side, when something genuinely resolves their issue, they won’t care about the product’s design or how much it costs.

A great example is Binance, a platform for buying and selling cryptocurrencies. Its design isn’t its standout feature; its usability is complex and, if you’re not familiar with the environment, you’ll get lost. Over time, it’s improved, but it still needs a manual or a usage guide for you to get the hang of it.

This is unimaginable for a designer, as we’d never let a product out the door if it didn’t feel 100% complete. Yet, Binance is tackling a pretty significant problem for people who want to trade crypto: doing it all in one place, with a huge catalog and tons of support. By addressing that, they became the most widely used crypto platform worldwide.

So, PlannerEat didn’t just need good design; it had to solve a big enough problem for someone to want to pay for the solution.

Designers need to stop seeing the product solely as a design element. We shouldn’t get upset about business decisions on the product, even if we feel they’re not qualified to decide on the design. But they are from their position, and a designer’s job is to take that and make it as clear as possible for the user.

To fully comprehend a product, we need to ask these questions:

How will it be sold?

-How do people discover the product?
-Who buys it?
-How do they buy it?
-Why do they buy it?
-Is the buyer the end user or someone else?
-How does it feel when they use it?
-Why do they use it?
-How can we improve the entire process?

After going through that exercise, we’ll have the chance for a product, whether digital or physical, to have customers — those people who’d pay whatever it takes because they feel it’s designed just for them.

A product’s success doesn’t solely depend on being well-designed.

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