Developing a completely innovative product is a unique challenge, one that means intimately understanding your target audience and how they will engage with and utilise your product. Once you determine that your product meets a business need and solves a problem, how do you plan, prioritize and launch new features as your business grows?
Since Brolly launched two years ago, it’s gone from being the only Australian social media archiving service to becoming a leading service globally. We’ve managed this with a small, agile team and an intimate understanding of what our customers’ needs are.
It’s been a wild ride and one we’ve grown from. We’ve put together our key learnings from the last two years to share how we plan, prioritize and deliver new features to the Brolly team.
1. User Research
Brolly’s journey could only begin once we understood our target audience. By identifying which demographics mattered to our product, we were able to connect with them, understand their work processes and validate our assumptions.
We used Early Adopters to provide valuable feedback about the platform from its inception, which ensured we could inform our product backlog and write accurate user stories.
2. Does this feature meet a user need?
We start our research into new features by speaking to and engaging with our target audience. Over the last two years, this has meant connecting with local, state and national archiving bodies as well as attending conferences, engaging with customers and speaking with both Social Media Managers and Information Managers.
These two unique audiences have different needs that intersect with the services Brolly provides. By engaging with these audience groups, we can understand how new features need to address needs for both groups while streamlining the development effort to provide maximum value.
3. Product Research
Once we have validated a feature concept we then step back to understand the context of its value from a competitive offering within the social media archiving industry.
We ask ourselves:
- Does the feature fit with our product mission?
- Will it help us meet our business goals?
- How does it provide a unique market offering?
By understanding comparable solutions, we can continue to provide a unique and valuable offering to our clients and the industry.
After we’ve thoroughly researched our new feature concept, we work through the requirements collaboratively, forming a launch pad for screens, workflows, and wireframing. This helps us size each task for our product backlog and enables us to work collaboratively as a team.
Our technical team work together to code and build the feature, based on the wireframes and designs. This is then reviewed by the team and, when ready, is shipped to the deployment environment.
As a product that provides a technical solution for our customers, it’s really important to us that they have a good experience with any new or updated features we release. After we have deployed the feature to the development environment we run a series of tests to ensure we are happy with how it functions and that it meets the initial requirement needs in the user stories.
Once we are satisfied that the feature is ready for our customers, we deploy it to production. From there we continuously monitor how our users interact and engage with the feature to help us refine it in future iterations. In some cases, this means releasing it in beta so our users can provide feedback.
Working with an Agile process means that our team commits to sprints of work. Making time for research, backlog planning, strategy and providing feedback at the end of each Agile sprint can be challenging for a small team. However, we’ve learnt that these processes help us to connect and collaborate, as well as provide more positive experiences for our customers.
At Brolly, our main goal is to support people to better engage with the public using social media. We’re always working towards that goal and by maintaining this vision for every feature, which means ensuring we get there as a team.