Recently, I've been experimenting with my feature development process for dpadd. Here's two tasks I've stared doing that I believe are invaluable when starting in on a new feature.
Write a thesis.
The first step is to write a quick thesis. I recently got this idea from Jason Evanish when he appeared on the Product People podcast in March. Jason explains that a feature thesis should help answer two questions:
- Why am I building this now?
- Why problems does this solve for users/customers? or what common usecases does this address?
This is a great way to make sure you're on the right track in terms of building the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. If the answers to those questions are too hard to find or seem like they don't need to be addressed right now, then you probably shouldn't be building the feature.
Write a press release.
I don't send out press releases but I do write them. Writing a press release (even if you have no intention of distributing it) helps you organize your thoughts, iron our important details and keep you focused on why you are building what you are building.
I recently learned that this is a common practice for product teams at Amazon. Ian McAllister wrote a great post on Quora about this all the way back in 2010. I totally recommend that you check it out. Specifically look at the 'example outline for press releases' where he explains how your press release should address problems, solutions and summarize key benefits to the user.
The press release can also be a frequent guideline to refer to throughout the rest of the feature development process. It can help you simplify your decision making and keep you on track with your original goals for the feature.