Here is a good cheat sheet on how to build products that people really want. It is cribbed from this article on TechCrunch.
- Draw On Previous Experience and Understanding – The biggest problem is startups in search of a problem. Chase what you’re passionate about; you’ll probably already have knowledge in the space.
- Have A Hypothesis About How You’re Different – Have a point of view about your startup. Why is there a special opportunity for this now?
- Never Build Without Sketching – Mike says he and Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom would go to a cafe with little iPhone design pads where “we’d build and throw away entire features. You’d waste three or four pieces of paper, not three weeks of coding.”
- Learn In Weeklong Increments – Start with a question: “Will folks want to share photos on the go? Can we build filters that look good?” Spend the week investigating, and by Friday have a conclusion and move on.
- Validate In Social Situations – “We called this the Bar Exam. If you can’t explain it to the guy or girl at the bar, you need to simplify.” Don’t just test with your techy friends.
- Know When It’s Time To Move On – “I know ‘pivot’ has become a dirty word, but if there’s no unanswered questions left, then it’s time to move on.”
- The Wizard Of Oz Techniques For Social Prototyping – You don’t need to build everything at first. You can be the man behind the curtain. Krieger says him and Systrom tested an early version of a feature which would notify you when friends joined the service. Instead of building it out, they manually sent people notifications “like a human bot” saying ‘your friend has joined.’ It turned out not to be useful. “We wrote zero lines of Python, so we had zero lines to throw away.”
- Build And Maintain A Constant Stream Of Communication With Your Audience – Don’t spend months building something without any idea if someone actually wants it.