Test Early and Often

Yes, it takes longer for development to begin working on a project if you focus on building prototypes and testing with users early. But you ultimately launch products faster with a higher success rate when you put the effort in early.

How To Frame the Decision

When starting the process of laying out a plan to build a great product you must start by framing the decision. Great tips from Marty Cagan’s Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love.

  • What problem exactly are you trying to solve?
  • Who exactly are you trying to solve this problem for (which persona)?
  • What are the goals you are trying to satisfy with this product?
  • What is the relative priority of each goal?

Here’s how I laid this out on the wall of a recent project. It’s pasted just before the initial wireframes.

Frame the Decision

Broken Windows Theory

graffiti

This theory, most famously put into action by New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, helped lower crime rates city-wide over a short period of time. Removing graffiti and cleaning up the city lead to lower crime and murder rates.

Monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition may prevent further vandalism as well as an escalation into more serious crime.

It’s the small attention to details that matter most. Technical debt and shortcuts in your software and are contagious. By themselves they can easily be overlooked, but piled together it’s no longer fun to work in that codebase.

Just as graffiti makes a neighborhood rundown, so too does messy code affect an application. Pay attention to the small things and don’t release junk. Take a stand in your part of the application and the rest will follow.

How to be Perceived as Being Credible

In The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins writes about new leaders making transitions. He says they’re perceived as more credible when they display these characteristics:

  • Demanding but able to be satisfied
  • Accessible but not too familiar
  • Decisive but judicious
  • Focused but flexible
  • Active without causing commotion
  • Willing to make tough calls but humane

Since perceptions are weighted so heavily in people’s minds it’s important to make a good one in a new job or new role. Make this your priority in every initial transition.