8 costly mistakes to avoid when building your digital product

Like any business venture, building a digital product is no walk in the park. In fact, it's full of pitfalls that can burn your budget to ashes. Avoiding these 8 mistakes will multiply your chances of success.

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Linn Legros
Co-Founder & UX Consultant
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So, you want to create a product?

Building a digital product today is a great choice for entrepreneurs looking to create a sustainable, high-growth business: with easy access to global markets, low barriers to entry and great potential for scalability and flexibility.

The wealth of online tools, resources and platforms available also makes building these products more accessible than ever, but without the right expertise on the process, a lot of money can be wasted before the product is even remotely profitable.

Ideal customer: Homo sapiens

First and foremost, if you cast too wide a net, your strategy will stall and productivity will suffer. To make any product successful today, you'll need to narrow down your customer profile or target segment and focus your efforts.

Continuously refine your understanding of potential customers, their problems, doubts and motivations through customer research and interviews.

Customer research is a nice-to-have

Your biased assumptions about your personas' problems and blind faith in your solution won't lead to successful results. A smarter approach is to start with customer research.

Gather as much early data and insight as possible through customer interviews, surveys and competitive analysis to inform your strategy and allow you to pivot and adapt your ideas early.

Take it lightly and you could end up discovering issues or buying resistance that could have been anticipated, and wasting money that could have been invested more wisely.

An informed strategy determines the quality of the user experience; if a product is launched based on guesswork, it's back to square one.

Straight to development

Research data alone won’t ensure the viability of your product idea. Potential customers need to get their hands on a prototype to give you solid feedback.

Rushing into development at this stage would increase the risk of a low-value product and wasted resource, instead, start by implementing short sprint cycles for prototyping and testing different scenarios with real users.

These design sprints allow you to validate your concepts early and address potential issues before investing significant resources in development.

A team that's not 100% specialized

Hiring the right team is critical to the success of your product. You need experienced product managers, talented engineers and specialist designers who understand the process, excel at cross-functional communication and know how to use their talents to serve your company's vision.

Failing to hire the right people will cost you time, effort and ultimately your budget - as you search for alternatives solutions for your product and your team.

Overcomplicating features

Lean design suggests that building the simplest version of a product first to test your assumptions and gather feedback is an effective way to avoid wasting time and resources.

In practice, prioritising essential features for the first release also benefits the team: setting achievable goals can help you avoid design or development bottlenecks and streamline your workflow.

We mistakenly assume that once the product is launched, it will be used. But we overlook the critical need to prepare for marketing, user engagement and support that effectively drives adoption.

Product launch = user adoption

There is a common misconception that once a product is launched, it will be used. But startups often forget that a product alone does not directly translate into new users, no matter how ready the market is for your solution.

After launch is when the fun begins, you'll need to plan a huge amount of time and effort into gathering more user feedback, marketing and promoting your product, selling and onboarding potential leads, and continually improving your product.

Hiring is the only way to scale

Hiring is one way to scale, but accumulating expensive fixed labour costs is not always the answer to reducing the workload on your internal team.

Consider solutions such as implementing automation technology, outsourcing work to contractors to remain flexible, or finding ways to optimise your processes through strategic partnerships to scale effectively.

“Let's add this new feature!”

If you are constantly adding new features to your product without really evaluating their value or impact to your users, you have officially fallen into the feature creep trap.

Of course, you want to satisfy every user request, but in the end, feature creep can do more harm than good to your product: you'll end up with an overly complicated product, delayed timelines, and inflated budgets. Stay focused on your product's core value proposition and remember that less is often more.