5 steps to design a digital product
How to use Design Thinking to cost-effectively solve user problems with the available technology.
By Daniel Rodríguez, Product Owner at Beonprice
In this article I will explain how to design a product that makes people’s lives easier. Specifically, we are going to see how to design one of the best RMS on the market, a digital product focused on maximising the profitability of hotels: a solution that provides our clients with powerful artificial intelligence technology applied to revenue management, through a simple and intuitive interface.
At Beonprice we have a multidisciplinary product design team made up of people trained in different fields (revenue management, business, engineering, mathematics, UX design). The whole team is aligned to achieve a common goal: to solve the real problems of our users. We work with our own design methodology based on Design Thinking, seeking continuous improvement of our tool.
Tim Brown, one of the main promoters of this methodology, defines Design Thinking as the intersection of people’s needs, their technical viability and their viability as a business. It is therefore about achieving a kind of integrative thinking that solves users’ problems using available technology and in an economically profitable way.
This all sounds great, but how do you go about designing such a product? If you join me, I’ll tell you about it in this five-stop journey, so pack your bags and let’s get started.
First stop: empathise with users.
The first stop on our journey is empathy. It is probably the most important phase of the whole process. It is a phase in which we must think divergently, think out of the box, but above all, put ourselves in the user’s shoes. In this phase we must understand perfectly how people think and act in a given situation.
At Beonprice we have always maintained a user-centred strategy. For us, it is very important to know the real needs and problems that our customers face in their daily lives. Our main objective is to make their lives easier and we believe that this is the best way to achieve this.
Specifically, in this phase what we do is to observe and analyse our users. We also carry out interviews and co-creation dynamics involving people from different teams outside product design. All in order to understand the real needs of our clients and to be able to continue our journey together.
Second stop: problem definition
After the first stage of observation, analysis, dialogue and empathy, it is time to reflect. It is time to define the real problem we want to focus on. This phase requires convergent thinking in order to clarify ideas and focus on the main needs of our users.
By properly deciding which problem to focus on in order to best help our customers, Beonprice is the perfect travel companion for hoteliers and revenue managers. We are able to abstract from the superficial and stay with the problems that really concern our customers to be at their side just when they need it.
To help us make these decisions, from the design team we elaborate customer journeys, look at use cases and define the main problems. Then, together with the stakeholders, we decide which customer needs we can best help them with and that is where we put all our effort into finding solutions, taking into account all the possible casuistry.
Third stop: coming up with the solution
Third stop along the way and we are now very clear about what problems our customers have and we understand how they affect them. Now it’s back to divergent thinking and bringing all the creativity we have inside us to the table, it’s the day to find innovative solutions.
Once we understand our customers’ frustrations, we at Beonprice can’t just sit back or look the other way. We feel an obligation to provide an effective and valuable solution to our users.
At this stage, the design team brings out all our ingenuity and creativity. Through co-creation dynamics, we design possible solutions to problems (any problem always has more than one solution). We define the different user flows and how we should structure the information. We decide which information is the most relevant to help the user solve the problem, and we start thinking about the cleanest and simplest way to display it.
Fourth stop: building the prototype
We reach the fourth station, we start to visualise the solution that will solve our users’ problem. It’s time to decide on the optimal solution and start to translate it into an interactive prototype, so that the rest of the teams can visualise and contrast it.
Making this stop on the journey is a great time and cost saver for Beonprice. Making an interactive prototype allows us to show what the final solution will look like using very few resources, without having to invest development time.
In this phase, we select the most effective solutions and those that provide the most value to our users. We draw the different wireframes that make up the entire user flow and give them interaction using prototyping tools. In our case, we use Axure because of its power when it comes to creating interaction, but we could also use tools such as Figma, which is becoming more and more functional in this aspect. In the case of the algorithm, we design the prototype from the data point of view, we indicate the inputs to be used in the calculations, and the expected output, always taking into account the possible problems that may be encountered during the development of the solution.
Fifth stop: evaluating the solution
The trip is coming to an end, we have enjoyed the journey but we are looking forward to getting there. As in any trip we like to tell where we’ve been, what we’ve done, show photos, upload them to social networks… In our particular product design journey what we are going to show is our final prototype. We love to tell others how we have solved the problems we have encountered during the journey.
At Beonprice, the opinion of the whole team matters, so at this stage anyone can give their opinion on the solutions proposed. It is essential to know all the points of view when it comes to finding a solution to any problem.
At this point, we show the prototypes to the rest of the teams (engagement, sales, development), as well as to users with different profiles of use of the tool. We send a Pre-Release of the prototype, exactly as if it were the release of the developed product. An A/B test can be carried out to choose which of the two prototypes is better. We also send a small survey and open comments on the prototype, in this way we receive as much feedback as possible about our solution in order to iterate the process.
End of the trip, repeat?
After this intense and passionate five-stage journey, we arrived at our destination: the final product. Now that the feedback we have received has been positive, our design is ready for the development team to implement. If not, we can repeat the journey as many times as we want — every time we repeat a journey we see new things that bring us more value.
As defined by Tim Brown, through Design Thinking, we have achieved a product that solves the real problems of our users through a technically feasible and profitable solution. In short, we have made Beonprice a cost-effective solution that makes life easier for its users.