February 2022

Product Principle #6 - Start by shipping

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. Here we’re discussing our sixth and final principle “start by shipping”.

Principle #6 - Start by shipping

We’ve worked in teams that shipped their product in days and in organisations that took over a year to deliver to customers. The teams releasing earlier build better products. However, it’s not speed that helped these teams succeed. It was a common mindset that linked them: they saw shipping v1 of the product not as the end-goal but the beginning of the journey.

Once you realise that’s true, it completely alters your approach to product development - and hugely improves your product’s chances of success. There’s at least five reasons for that:

1. Shipping the product releases value - Shipping something, however small, is helpful to customers. As soon as a product’s in their hands, the value return begins.

2. It builds the processes and finds the problems - Forcing the product through to live, even for a single customer, quickly reveals the gaps to be bridged and the processes that actually matter for the product to succeed. 

3. Shipping the product is the only way to get to the truth - lab tests of visual prototypes assume that people know how they behave and are honest about it when asked. If you can give them a real product, however simple, you witness their honest unmodified behaviour

4. Shipping the product early gives ultimate freedom to pivot and change - shipping early makes people scared because they think they’re committing to something which won’t be changed. Actually it helps to embrace the opposite mentality: shipping early means you have to change it - and getting something out quickly gives you that freedom. 

5. Shipping the product gets customers involved - my favourite thing about shipping is it’s the start of your relationship with customers. Customers LOVE being part of the product journey.

We’ve lived this principle with all our clients: shipping the first version of a New Students’ Guide for the University of Exeter after 3 weeks and v1 of community app for a PE portfolio in just 2 weeks. 

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

‘Until something goes live, a product or a proposition is just theory. Only in practice does it become real and that’s when the journey really begins! That’s when you start measuring, gaining feedback and learning. Off the back of this is where clever maneuvers can be made to really optimise your product and understand who actually uses it and why.

Once a product is shipped, it’s not done. As with everything in digital it must be constantly analysed, experimented with and improved.’

- Joni Mortimore, Lead Designer

“I think the thing with research is that you need to be able to discern between what people say and what people do, which can be entirely different. Until you're testing with real customers and seeing what they are doing, you can’t get an accurate picture. That’s why it’s so important to put something out there and just see how people are using it.”

- Julia Godinho, Product Manager at Moonpig

‘One thing organisationally instead of on a product level is how, as a set of behaviours, shipping regularly and working in the open is just good practice. In our projects, the way we behave is working as openly as possible and shipping outputs on a daily or weekly basis so you don’t have a long lag between conversation or thought and decision. That’s as valuable as shipping a product. And it gets people more comfortable with the thought of shipping something incomplete. If you’re showing you can incrementally deliver value and improve stuff, then transferring that behaviour to product is less of a leap.’

- Brett Thornton, Founder

That’s the final post in a series of six on Loomery’s product principles. We’d love to hear what you thought so get in touch! 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.

Score your team against the 8Cs

Sign up below to receive a worksheet to score your team against the 8Cs, and a guide to some smart next steps based on where you score lowest.

For information on how we use your contact data, please read our Privacy Notice.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Discover more insights