How 3 hours of conversation saved a company hundreds of thousands of dollars

Eric Bailey

We recently worked with a client who helps prepare students for their post-high school plans. They approached us looking to validate the idea that a mobile app would increase student engagement with their service.

It makes sense at first blush. It’s easy to think that a younger, smartphone-addicted audience would favor an app experience.

Apps have a gee-whiz factor, but sometimes an app isn’t the right thing to build. It takes a ton of time, money, and resources to create one, even more to support both Android and iOS. You also need to consider ongoing maintenance and support—to say nothing about responding to major operating system updates and backwards compatibility concerns.

So, before we even get to the product design phase, we need to consider how these costs could potentially affect the go-to-market strategy.

What’s the best way to do that? Talk to people.

This isn’t design thinking. This is the act of identifying existing and prospective users, ensuring there’s a statistically significant sample, and guarding against bias by making sure diversity in demographics are represented.

For us, that meant talking to students from all across the United States. It was an incredible experience, definitely a highlight of my career. One of the many things we learned is that nearly every student deliberately uses a laptop, school-provided Chromebook, or desktop to conduct college and career-related activities specifically because of the larger screen size.

This meant that we were able to quickly and cheaply rule out the need for an app. With this understanding, we were able to explore other ideas. Through rapid prototyping exercises these ideas were then prioritized and tested as potential features to see if they had merit.

Most businesses know where they want to go, but figuring out how to get there is another thing entirely. De-risking ideas early and often is an effective, enlightening way of figuring out the how. If this sounds like something you’d like help with, get in contact today!