Digital effectiveness, pt 2: Do the thing right

Not faster. Not cheaper. Just smarter.

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It’s fair to say that, in the past, digital development was driven by deadlines and budgets. Long-term ROI didn’t really show up on the radar.

This meant products and platforms were often clunky; unable to adapt to changing business requirements, with any adjustments sending everyone back to square one.

That was, and is, simply unsustainable. Which is why Product Thinking advocates taking a more strategic, long-term view – choosing ways to build which may increase initial costs, but which will also increase the return each product brings to the business in the future.

The second pillar of Product Thinking ‘Do the thing right’ refers to this specifically and is defined as:

  • Building for continual change – using lean delivery practices to “build, measure, learn”; releasing early and often
  • Delivering value early – with continual iteration and refinement growing ROI through insight-driven adjustment
  • Building continuously – using modern engineering principles to build-in agility, performance and resilience.

In this article, we use the recent research carried out by Code Computerlove in collaboration with EConsultancy to find out if companies are using Product Thinking principles to concentrate on building smarter – using effectiveness to grow value. Or if ‘I want it yesterday’ is still the primary driver in business.

Doing things right? Or just getting things done?

What our research told us

Simple logistical problems like running out of time or money certainly didn’t seem to be the sticking point with most projects – with only around 15% citing these as a major factors in a build’s failure.

Instead, it was working practices such as ‘Trying to do too much’ (which was recognised by half of our survey) and ‘the desire to cram as much into a project as possible’ (noted by three-quarters of respondents) which were the most common problems.

This suggests that unrealistic – or even non-existent – expectations are attached to projects from day one.

Our findings bear this out; as 63% claim the initial scope of the project was poorly defined.

And 57% suggest the initial strategy or vision was unclear.

On a more positive note, 69% of top performing companies do follow Product Thinking principles and adopt agile processes in development.

They also pioneer ongoing testing and agility, favouring a focus on outcomes in delivery (75%) and prioritising long-term goals over short term targets (59%).

This confidence in both technology and strategy probably explains why 60% of top performers are satisfied with their ability to deliver digital products on time and on budget, compared to only 19% of the mainstream.

Doing the thing right in practice: how everything clicked into place for Asda

Asda had an old CMS. So the route one answer could simply have been ‘let’s find them a new one’.

But this ignored the fact that customers weren’t navigating to other key areas of ASDA.com (George Clothing, Money). Which made us think that an updated site map would also have to be part of the answer – something which would significantly increase click-through rate.

By putting the customer front and centre, and defining what would benefit them the most, our conversion optimisation team devised a sitemap which was used to create new prototypes to test directly in front of customers. These showed we could significantly increase click-through rates across the majority of products simply by reorganising the way content was labelled and structured.

Of course, from a consumer’s perspective speed was critical as well. So Asda.com was designed and developed with performance in mind – resulting in extremely fast load times for all users on any device…this decreased the overall bounce rate too.

(ASDA.com's load time is consistently under one second. That's faster than 91% of all websites.)

It’s also a lightweight site. So we can quickly change direction, make changes or improvements, without having to uncouple it from heavyweight systems or coding infrastructures.

This smarter – not faster – approach to iterative testing and performance-driven design means we deliver multimillion pounds in extra revenue to Asda every month.

Has all this got you thinking about Product Thinking?

‘Do the thing right’ is the second pillar which supports the complete Product Thinking approach to developing digital products and platforms.

You can read our complete overview of this direct route to digital transformation.

Or, you can take a more in-depth look at the other two pillars to get the whole story.

If you’d like your own copy of the full ‘Driving digital effectiveness with Product Thinking’ research report, we’ll be happy to send you a copy.


Digital effectiveness, pt 1: Do the right thing