Developing Apps That Get Used: Outcome Driven Innovation

6 min read - Insights
  • Focusing on your users’ desired outcome aligns your teams and drives success
  • Apps aren’t a series of screens, they are a series of interactions to help the user achieve something

At this stage you’ve got a good understanding of apps. You know the opportunities it could bring your business. And now you’re ready to start defining the specs and create the product scope. So how best can you conceptualise your ideas and make sure you’re on track for success?

We often bang on about how the most successful apps align both the business goals and their user needs. And it’s within this conceptualisation stage where the two come together. Because having a great idea for your app is only half the battle. Developing something that people love and use needs a deep understanding of your users’ needs and a focus on the end goal.

It’s easy to get distracted thinking about all the amazing ideas that could be within the app, but this means a lost focus on desired outcomes. Focusing on these features instead of the wider picture not only makes it difficult for the team to focus. But can also lead to big changes in scope through design and development which ultimately means time and money gets wasted.

Putting your users’ end needs at the core of app development is a simple way of making sure you keep focus. The way we do this is by thinking of the outcome people want. User-led app development. What’s most important in your users’ mind is the thing they will achieve after using the app. For example, no one asked Henry Ford to build a car, we don’t even know for sure that they asked for a faster horse. But we do know that they wanted to get somewhere quicker and easier. Just like we might say ‘I’d love a better night’s sleep’ not ‘I want a new mattress’.

Outcome driven innovation

This is often referred to as outcome driven innovation. Using a user’s desired end outcome to drive innovation. It’s quite natural for us to focus on the solutions as opposed to the desired outcomes. But that leads brands and businesses towards failure in app development.

Instead, focusing on the outcomes your users are trying to achieve can help define your apps’ value. And by posing the question ‘What do my users really want to achieve?’ to your team, it helps them focus on a universal end goal.

But instead of just asking yourself that same question over and over again. ‘What do my users really want to achieve?’ We’ve put together our framework on using outcome driven innovation.

Requirements aren’t features, they are desired outcomes

The cause of many app failures, is the lack of user understanding. Many businesses assume they understand their users’ needs, but typically this is simply a list of requirements. Requirements listed by management and basic user research. Which leads to unclear direction for the app, and no prioritisation of features.

This list of requirements should instead drive the desired outcomes. So instead of asking what features the app should have, focus on the outcome. What outcome does the user want and what outcome do we as a business want?

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Focus on the quickest route to the desired outcome

The difference between a good app and a great app is measured on the value a user gains from using the app. It’s easy to lose focus on the users’ desired outcome when discussing app features. But your main goal needs to be making it easier for customers to achieve the outcome they want, whatever context they are in.

This means thinking about what situation your customer is in when they are interacting with your app. And what the different outcomes are that they want to achieve. Then pair the two together. What are the problems or pain points in these situations. What is stopping them trying to achieve their desired outcomes in the different situations?

Design the journey not the features

To follow an outcome driven approach, design should be led by the outcome. More specifically led by the time it takes to achieve the desired outcome. Traditionally, design is created around features. However, this can often create a disjointed user experience and lack of design direction.

Instead designers need to be focusing on how a user can achieve their desired outcome within the app as a whole. Not on a feature by feature basis.

This approach forces design teams to align themselves with the user’s needs. Putting themselves in the users’ shoes and focusing on achieving their desired outcome as quickly and as easily as possible.

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Quick interactions not individual interfaces

This idea of helping the user to achieve the outcome as quickly as possible ties into the entire app experience not just design. When we take an outcome driven approach, it’s not the series of screens that are being designed that’s important. It’s the series of interactions that the user takes throughout their journey.

During wire frames and design, test your app on the speed to complete a task. Avoid focusing in on each individual screen, and instead focus on every interaction in order. Time your journeys and test in different situations to ensure your app empowers your users to achieve their desired outcome.

This whole process is about keeping focus on the bigger picture. Keeping you focused on what you’re trying to achieve and making that happen. Outcome driven innovation enables you to innovate and succeed in an increasingly mobile-first world.

 

The concept of outcome-driven innovation is also often referred to as Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD). This approach and set of frameworks is rapidly being recognised and adopted by teams worldwide as an effective way to identify and define user needs.

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