January 2022

Product Principle #3 - No data, no debate

We created Loomery to make it easier and faster to ship great digital products. We’re a young company but we have pretty strong opinions on how great products are built quickly. So, we’ve attempted to capture our approach in six principles that our team follows and promotes, six beliefs we think are important that guide our behaviours and decisions. 

You could even describe them as anti-principles; as they describe what we don’t want to do as often as they describe what we do want to do. The principles are:
1. Products not slides
2. Do then document
3. No data, no debate
4. Business cases lie
5. Learn on the cheap
6. Start by shipping

In this series of posts we dive into the six principles in turn to explain what they mean and how we apply them day to day. Today we’re discussing our third principle 'No data, no debate'.

Principle #3 - No data, no debate

Good data is the basis of good decision making. Data removes the subjectivity and provides evidence for decisions of all kinds; strategy decisions, prioritisation decisions, product decisions, design decisions, you name it.

Data doesn’t just mean numbers, qualitative data is just as important. Our team members rely on both their quantitative and qualitative research skills.

Collecting data isn’t one person’s responsibility either. We see user research as a team sport, shared by everybody building a product. We encourage everyone (including our clients) to observe research sessions, get stuck in with research activities and, most importantly, spend time swimming in the pool of data that results.

For a focussed and productive product debate, start with the data. One caveat worth noting here, sometimes products need incubating a bit, so it doesn’t necessarily mean users are telling you they need a certain thing or this feature is missing, but it does mean you have to bring with you an understanding of their behaviours and attitudes in order to make a decision about something.

Hear what our team and friends have to say about how we apply this principle:

‘In design, too much time is wasted on subjective critique, resulting in unclear products which are unfit for purpose, lost development time, distorted visions and ultimately stunted growth. Removing bias from the decision-making process leads to better results as the process is backed by insight and directed towards an agreed outcome.

This means testing regularly with customers to get their honest feedback, either validating or disproving your assumptions whilst also helping you see what we need to work harder on and what we can take forward to refine and ship. Numbers can lie so it’s also important to work with someone who understands the data, can analyse it and can extrapolate meaning from it in order to help you get a clear picture of what it all means and what to do next.’

- Joni Mortimore, Lead Designer

‘So how do you know if a gut Instinct is right? Is it after six months when nobody likes a thing you’ve created or much earlier on when it’s easier to make changes and pivot away from danger? I would say it’s the latter. Get the data right and you will always have the evidence to back up those decisions.’

- Mytch Parks, Head of Digital KOKO

‘I’ve been stuck in too many roadmap conversations where people want to make decisions about what the product will do in 18 months time, either without the product being live or with complete blindness about how users are interacting with or thinking about the product. We advocate that any product conversation either has to be framed as a hypothesis you’re testing (and therefore clear about what you need to measure) or needs to be data-backed.

In work with Bauer Media, designing the next versions of the Kiss and Absolute Radio apps, some team members were convinced that games should be a part of their new app concept. Games is an extremely competitive category, and not core to the product - we killed it by asking people how much they wanted to play a game in the app. The answer was not very much. No subjectivity, decision made, let’s crack on.’

- Brett Thornton, Founder

We’d love to hear what you think about this so get in touch. We’ll be talking about our fourth principle “business cases lie” on Wednesday so look out for that. Thanks for reading.

Loomery is a faster path to product progress. We deliver trusted teams, when you need them. Our community of expert makers, remote teaming approach and flexible partnership model mean we can demonstrate progress on your priorities next week, not next year.

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