Building a product used widely and much loved by a majority of people perhaps is a significant milestone for a product manager. What has made a product successful is the unique value users can benefit from. The value proposition always represents the core competency that can’t be replaced or substituted by other products. However, when it comes to product type (either to customers or to business), the focus on the features and user experience design varies, hence the value proposition. As mobile technology surges, the mobile app market has been flooded with many 2C products. These products are mainly developed as mobile apps and running on mobile platforms. Given the screen size of mobile devices and the time we spend on mobile phones everyday, 2C products are intended to put a strong emphasis on user experience design and user journey in order to boost the user engagement with the app and navigate users to complete a specific task, for example, to complete the registration process, to make a purchase successfully with different payment methods. Compared with 2C products, 2B products, in particular the SaaS products, target specific problems in business process and provide the solutions for organisations to increase efficiencies, improve access to information and identify additional capabilities. Therefore, the focus on the design of the 2B products shifts from user experience design to feature-related.
Working as an E-learning product manager, my system falls into 2B product categories, though I can’t say it’s completely a SaaS product. Rather, I would call it a solution, to tackle the problem encountered in online learning and data analytics. The product had three major upgrades in the last two years and countless iterations have been made for optimisation and enhancement. So far, it’s been sold to many organisations in the public sector. Apart from the professional programming, domain expertise, high level of security and the good system architecture contributing to the success of the system, there are another three key factors attributed to customers’ buy-in of my product.
Three key success factors of my E-learning Product
1. Dive into design thinking and place user experience design at forefront
Users experience design is left behind, or at least the least considered when developing a B2B product. Feature, security, maintenance and efficiency are always put into the spotlight to gain a lot of traction during the development process. As long as the look and feel follow the organisation’s brand guideline, and the users are able to complete the designated tasks, user interaction can be de-prioritised. I don’t have the expert judgement on the rationale of this. However, considering the learning platform will be judged by individual users in ten seconds, in terms of usability, accessibility or even security, involving user experience design is extremely important to draw attention, navigate users, and even delight them.
Animations and motion graphics are two essentials in engaging users. With subtle actions, users are inclined to stick around longer on the platform and tent to explore more services and offerings. Both animations and motion graphic should serve a purpose with a consistent style across the platform. They should trigger users’ clicks without being too fast, or too slow or too sophisticated. Below are some principles we have been following when designing our e-learning platform.
- Use animation to reflect the state of change due to an interaction commissioned, including display, clickable, hovered.
- Use animation and motion graphics to emphasize and reveal the content.
- For the same UI kit and the same artefacts in a certain block, keep the animation consistent.
- Don’t use too much motion techniques as this will distract your users from completing a specific task. (There are 12 popular motion techniques to enhance the site, according to UXinMotion ).
Product managers without UI/UX background may find it hard to describe the animation to the development team. I have three freebies to get you started.
- https://animate.style/ a handy tool covering all basic transition effect with the corresponding CSS. You can also learn terminologies so you speak the same language with developers.
- http://bouncejs.com/ another free tool to find the animation with the corresponding CSS.
- https://www.minimamente.com/project/magic/ easy to use and share.
2. Improve the accessibility to the platform
The characteristics of the end user group determine the level of accessibility of the system to a large degree. We did not pay much attention to the accessibility when we designed the product. After conducting user research and user acceptance test, the importance of accessibility stood out. The accessibility tool provides equal access for the disabled struggling to read, write or listen. With the introduction of accessibility principles and guidelines, users with disability are kept active on the platform whereas more diversified content types are created to meet users’ learning needs.
3. Make the user journey as precise as possible
I have never thought making the user journey right at the beginning of designing the system is such an important task as when eliciting and analysing requirements, it is quite difficult to think of all user scenario and use cases. However, if we did not get it right in the first place, this will influence the completeness of the system architecture and poses many uncertainties to infrastructure, framework and coding structure when enhancing the system, namely integrating other third-party systems to the platform. The comprehensive user journeys covering most user scenario and use cases could be a real value to the design of system architecture and possible enhancement in the future.