Products vs tools

We call ourselves product designers... but what is a “product” exactly?

When I talk to prospective clients, I often tell them I’m a designer who turns tools into real products.

#What makes a product different from just a tool?

  • Products have onboarding - If people don’t understand what the tool is and how to use it, you need to show them. Products have help for first-timers built in.
  • Products close the loop - Tools do one thing, but products take their user past a single result and all the way to impact.
  • Products create an experience - The product is more than the physical thing in the box: it’s the box, it’s how you found the box, it’s the instruction manual, it’s the store you bought it from.
  • Products get things done - Tools are there to help you get things done. Products take care of jobs for you.
  • Products have prices - When selling a product, you have to decide how will you offer it to a market. What’s free and what’s expensive? What kinds of options does a buyer have? How much does each cost? When will you ask your customers to pay you?
  • Products know what to do when things go wrong - When a tool breaks, it’s broken. You repair it yourself or get a new one. When a product breaks, it tells you it broke, and fixes the problem for you–or helps you fix it together

Good, bad, and horrible reasons to build a feature Coming soon
How to prioritize features on your product roadmap Coming soon
How to run a simple usability test Coming soon

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