Ideation & Validation

Remember back in high school using CliffsNotes or SparkNotes? They were the timesavers and lifesavers. They helped translate the indecipherable Shakespeare and they condensed those epic incomprehensible topics, making them easy to consume. Well, I’ve essentially written some CliffsNotes for the course I recently undertook which is ‘Product Design by Google’. The course consists of 29 lectures and exercises and it’s estimated to take about 2 months to complete.

So I’ve created these notes for other fellow designers who may feel overwhelmed by all the UX and UI software out there, all the different techniques and all the multitudes of courses out there related to our job. This is for all the other designers or people in general who are interested in the field who would like a little less noise and want to drill down to the best practices. Who better to learn from but from who are one of the best in their field. Although, I must admit I’m not being entirely altruistic here, I’m writing these notes more for myself to try and retain everything I’ve learnt, it’s a much quicker way for me to backtrack instead of going through the 129 lectures and exercises. So I’m killing two birds with one stone by selfishly retaining the knowledge and selflessly sharing the knowledge ;).

Product Design by Google

Side Note

The ‘Product Design by Google’ course is a great course and you shouldn’t entirely rely on these notes, these notes are helpful if you don’t have the time to do the course and would like a bit of a rundown. They’re also useful if you have completed the course and would like notes to help retain what you’ve learnt. Although, I do highly recommend actually doing the course which you can enrol for free through Udacity. Udacity is great! It’s an educational organisation that was founded by Sebastian Thrun founder of GoogleX and David Stavens an entrepreneur, and scientist who’s in the field of robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Udacity is great for people like me who don’t have the luxury that I did in my teens of devoting myself to 4 years to an Engineering degree and who doesn’t have hundreds and thousands of dollars to splurge on expensive degrees. So I’m a big advocate of Udacity and other MOOCs and I’m a huge advocate for democratisation of learning. Education should be open to all, especially to the lovers of learning and to the voraciously curious.


The ‘Product Design by Google’ course basically covers Silicon Valley startups best practices & frameworks used for product design. It teaches how to perform Google Design Sprint (developed at Google Ventures and exclusively taught in this course) to design, prototype and test your ideas. In addition, it covers how to design lo-fidelity mockups for products and capture appropriate metrics.

In the lectures you will hear from industry experts in the field which include:


Amir Shevat — VP Developer Experience at Twitch and was the former Developer Relations Program Manager at Google

Chris Saden — Full Stack Software Engineer at Udacity

Industry Professionals:

Jen Kozenski Devins — UX Designer Google Apps Accessibility

Nadya Direkova — Senior Designer at Google X

Richard Fulcher — Head of Google Material UX and Engineering

Tomer Sharon — Senior UX Researcher at Google

Aaron Harris — Partner of Y Combinator

Pete Koomen — Co-founder, CTO of Optimizely

Nir Eyal — Author on works related to behavioural economics, neuroscience and consumer psychology

Yunha Kim — Founder of Locket

Kaushik Pendurthi — Founder of Locket

Harpinder Singh — Partner Innovation Endeavors


The course is broken into four parts which include:

1) Ideation and Validation (*this medium article will focus on just this section)

Develop, validate and refine your ideas to ensure you’re building for product/market fit. Through case studies and interviews with founders, product experts, and investors, you will learn how to efficiently conduct user research and build an entrepreneurial mindset.

2) UX and UI

This takes you beyond visual style to understand material design, building for accessibility, user flows and personas. You’ll hear about how startups make design decisions and learn from senior designers at Google on how they use design to emphasize the purpose of their products.

3) Design Sprint

Created by Google Ventures, the Design Sprint Process is widely used by teams seeking to design, prototype, and test their ideas with customers. In this part, Google’s leading Design Sprint Master will take you through all the steps required to validate your ideas and build mockups of your product.

4) Key Metrics

In the final section, you will learn to identify common metrics for websites and apps relating to traffic, customer satisfaction, and engagement. You will learn tools that can be used to monitor metrics and examples from startups on what metrics not to measure.

Ideation and Validation

The ‘Ideation and Validation’ part of the course will tackle the following topics:

· Building the Entrepreneur’s Mindset

· Ideas

· Types of Ideas

· Generating Ideas

· The Hook Model

· Candy, Vitamins and Pain Killers

· Evaluate and Triage Ideas

· Growing Market

· Morality and Manipulation

· User Research and Conducting it

· Validating your Idea — Market Demand and Trends

· Value Proposition: A communication Tool

· Competition

· Refining the Idea

Building the Entrepreneur’s Mindset

The beginning of the course are interviews with entrepreneurs and they take you through their personal experiences with founding their first company and shipping their first product. These interviews are really about conveying the struggles, the hardships and the huge learning experiences that comes along with building your own product, this part is really about building the true entrepreneurial mindset. You first hear from Pete Koomen the cofounder and CTO of Optimizely, Yunha Kim the founder of Locket and Aaron Harris a Partner of Y Combinator.

The main takeaways for me during these interviews were:

Learnings from Yunha

  • Don’t be tied to the notion that everything needs to be executed perfectly.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s not a bad thing.
  • Approach things as if they are a science experiment where you are trying to validate assumptions.
  • Use the metrics to help make judgement calls.
  • Fail fast but make sure you know the reason why you failed and don’t fail slowly.
  • When you know when a product or idea is going to fail just rip that band-aid off, pivot or drop it, move on, just keep getting things done.

Learnings from Pete

  • Be willing to step outside of your “room” (personal point of view) and be sceptical and always question your own ideas.
  • Get a real understanding of what the customer wants and that doesn’t happen unless you get outside your room and start talking to people.
  • Success is due to a lot of hard work and resilience.
  • The ones that are successful are the ones who are able to stand up after falling over and dust themselves off.

Learnings from Aaron

  • Great founders are the ones that have the determination and the drive to just go through brick wall after brick wall.
  • Best ideas tend to come from people solving problems that they personally experience, problems that they truly understand.


This part initially talks about as you think up your ideas, it’s really important to be passionate about them. It’s never a good idea to create a startup or a product just purely because you want to create something. Create a startup or a product because you want to solve a problem that keeps you up at night. Successful companies start from a good idea and a good idea tends to come from one of these things:

  • Solving a novel problem
  • Extending a current solution
  • Disrupting an industry

Types of Ideas

Ideas tend to fall into the following types:

Simplify — is an idea trying to make a process or task much easier to your user. Instagram did this by simplifying the process for combining images. They have an app called Layout, which allows you to combing photos from your camera phone into customised layouts.

Me Too — is where you take a current idea and you bring it to a new market. Flipkart is a ‘me too idea’. Similar to Amazon, the company leveraged market insights in India to pioneer concepts such as cash on delivery. Flipkart also partnered with other companies to provide exclusive sales on its website, since it had such a deep understanding of India and its user’s needs.

Virtualise — it involves moving an activity to the online space. Need to do you taxes? TurboTax allows you to send off your tax forms electronically. You can even do them from your mobile phone or tablet. Need to hail a cab, Lyft makes this process really seamless, you can do it right from your mobile phone. For this type of idea, it’s important to think about how you can leverage existing technologies or build upon new technologies. For example, Lyft used the fact that everyone had cell phones and GPS locations to provide cab service to people on demand.

Remix idea — You might also try to remix or combine two or more ideas. Slack, an online messaging tool, is one great example of a remix idea. Slack is a team communication tool that streamlines email, chat and private group messaging while making all content searchable.

Impossible ideas — Finally, there are types of ideas that seem impossible. Or almost impossible. These types of ideas are just like Google’s project Loon. Project Loon attempts to bring internet to the rural and remote areas of the world using helium balloons.

Generating Ideas

This area of the course goes through techniques of generating ideas. There’s one particular technique they describe which involves a brainstorming activity which takes 2 minutes. Before brainstorming it’s important to note the following:

  • There’s no such thing as a bad idea
  • Defer judgment
  • Avoid buzzwords
  • Be energised
  • Be supportive (if you are brainstorming in a group)

For the first minute, write down as many problems you personally want a solution for or you think someone else, or another company could use. It’s best to have a timer in hand during this stage. Then for the next minute, write down any ideas you have for solving those problems.

Other ways that you can generate ideas include:

Find your motivation — If you’re building a product because you think it’s revolutionary, but have zero interest in using the product yourself, you’ll probably get tired and stop development. Make a product that you are passionate about and that’s relevant to your own interests to ensure that you’ll stay interested throughout the development process.

KISS. Keep it simple, stupid — It’s tempting to create a product that does all the things. Don’t. All you’ll accomplish is creating a product that overwhelms and drives away users.

Don’t worry if your idea exists already — There are over 1.2 million apps on the App Store. The chances of creating a totally novel app are incredibly slim. Even if a similar app exists, any idea can be improved upon. Plus, existing apps in the genre just means there’s a market! If you develop an app that has no competitors, chances are, there’s no one that wants it.

Browse the top 100 apps in the App Store or Google Play Store, and write down any ideas you have as a result. If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, you can find a list of the top 100 apps in the App Store by visiting this page. You can also look at the best and worst user reviews to get a sense for what users are saying.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between free & paid apps — if you’re thinking about charging for your app, you may want to pay attention to the paid category.

Here are some useful links they provide to fuel that imagination:

Y Combinators Requests from Startups

TED — Tails of Creativity and Play

TED — Trial, Error and the God Complex

The Hook Model

The hook model was formed based on Nir Eyal’s research on behavioural economics and neuroscience. The hook model is a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behaviour. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their goal by virtually hooking the user to the product.

The cycles include:

Trigger — is the actuator of behaviour — the spark plug in the engine. Triggers come in two types: external and internal. Habit-forming products start by alerting users with external triggers like an email, a website link, or the app icon on a phone. By cycling through successive hooks, users begin to form associations with internal triggers, which attach to existing behaviours and emotions. When users start to automatically cue their next behaviour, the new habit becomes part of their everyday routine.

Action — Following the trigger comes the action: the behaviour done in anticipation of a reward for example a simple action of clicking on the interesting picture in a newsfeed. This phase of the hook, draws upon the art and science of usability design to reveal how products drive specific user actions. Companies leverage two basic pulleys of human behaviour to increase the likelihood of an action occurring: the ease of performing an action and the psychological motivation to do it.

Variable Reward — Variability in the feedback loop creates a craving. Variable rewards are one of the most powerful tools companies implement to hook users. Research shows that levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine surge when the brain is expecting a reward. Introducing variability multiplies the effect, creating a focused state, which suppresses the areas of the brain associated with judgment and reason while activating the parts associated with wanting and desire. Although classic examples include slot machines and lotteries, variable rewards are prevalent in many other habit-forming products.

Investment — The last phase of the Hook Model is where the user does a bit of work. The investment phase increases the odds that the user will make another pass through the hook cycle in the future. The investment occurs when the user puts something into the product of service such as time, data, effort, social capital, or money. However, the investment phase isn’t about users opening up their wallets and moving on with their day. Rather, the investment implies an action that improves the service for the next go-around. Inviting friends, stating preferences, building virtual assets, and learning to use new features are all investments users make to improve their experience.

Okay I must admit I had a bit of a moral dilemma with this section of the course. This part is basically a step by step guide on how to get users to develop behavioural addictions to your product. I’ve worked on a few game apps in the past and I’ve worked in advertising so these techniques are not really new to me, although I’ve always been at odds with some of these methods. My concern with this section is the idea of hooking people and making them compulsive users of your product. There’s a lot of studies and research on how prolonged use of social media apps and mobile phone use is linked with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. So I would just like to personally stress and mention to any product designers and makers out there please use these methods for good. When building products, always keep in your mind that we want to build a mentally healthy society.

Candy, Vitamins and Painkillers

This section talks about the different types of products out there. They can be categorised into the following:

Candy — a product that is a nice-to-have, that people enjoy and can be wildly successful if it becomes a fad.

Vitamins — a product that is a nice-to-have and serves an emotional need, used to augment and improve things but sometimes harder to quantify and has an unknown market. There’s a lot of vitamin type products out there, some eventually become successful however they don’t scale quickly.

Painkillers — a product that is a need-to-have and serves an obvious need, or solves critical problems that need to be alleviated and has a quantifiable market and thereby immediately monetizable.

Both Aaron and Nir talk about how ‘Pain Killer’ products tend to be the best products. Aaron mentions,

“I would say the pain killer is a much bigger deal. But even more than the pain killer, I think you want like a life saving drug. You want something that someone really, really needs. My partner Paul Buheight said way better to build something that a few people love than a lot of people sort of like. And so that’s what we look for. It’s something that people really, really want. Because those are going to be your initial core of passionate users who are going to engage with you sufficiently to help you develop your product and make it better. If you just have something that people kind of like, they’ll use it a couple of times and then they’ll go away. And if your initial users just go away, you’re left with a ghost town.”

Evaluate and Triage Ideas

To evaluate your ideas there’s a few considerations that should keep in mind such as:

First, is your idea a painkiller or vitamin? Pain killers address an obvious and functional need for users, while vitamins address user’s emotional needs and are really nice to have. Now, both types, but especially painkillers, can lead to successful companies. For vitamin type ideas, you’ll need to figure out how to get your users to be sticky, so that way they continue to come back and use your product over time.

The second thing you should look for is how easy it is to monetize the idea. Now you don’t need to monetize an idea on day one. But understanding how to make money out of the service or product is essential to building an enduring business.

Next is the idea simple? Can you explain your idea in just a couple sentences? For example, is like Netflix, but instead of renting movies, you can rent, buy, or sell designer items. Users should be able to describe the product and its benefits to other potential users easily.

And here’s where we get to the heart of the matter. Is your idea personally relevant? For example, you might be a diabetic and want to develop affordable and convenient blood sugar monitors for other diabetics. Now, don’t underestimate this one. This is of great importance, as it relates to how likely you are to persevere in the face of challenge, uncertainty, or worse, looming failure. You’ll be more likely to see an idea come to life if you care about the idea in the first place.

Now another consideration for an idea is whether or not you can follow through on it. Think about your ability to organize a small team or a large team to execute on that idea. Can you get from a to b?

Next you should wonder if you have a large enough size of the market. You want a really big slice of the pie. The market just refers to your number of potential customers. You should be able to calculate a lower estimate as well as an upper estimate for your market size. If you’re unfamiliar with market sizing here some helpful resources:

Market Sizing

What are some back of the envelope techniques to identify the size a market?

Full Market Sizing Example

And finally, does your idea have a legitimate secret sauce? Does your idea leverage technology or patents in a unique way? Or do you have talent and capital that no one else would ever have? For Google, the secret sauce was the page rank algorithm. The secret sauce has grown over the years to include many features that bring millions of page results in fractions of a second.

Growing Market

In this section of the course Aaron Harris talks about when building a product, focus on a market that’s growing. If you are entering a super mature market, startups tend to lose a lot of their nimbleness and a lot of their advantages.

“You’re just fighting for a slice of a pre-existing pie. But if you build something that’s going to cause a market to grow or building something for a market that is growing, you’re fighting for a slice of an ever expanding pie. And that is so much more interesting. It let’s you play around more. The rules aren’t written. There’s all these things you can do. So I like those kinds of things more. But that’s not to say that there aren’t great businesses to be built in mature markets, as well. And it also depends on how you think about what’s a mature market, what’s not. And I also like companies that make me think honestly, that make me look at a problem from a brand new perspective. Something that makes me say, huh, I didn’t realize you could do that.”

Morality and Manipulation

This section addresses that the behavioural techniques that are used in product design are tools that can be used on our deeper psychology to manipulate people’s day-to-day behaviours. Sadly it is possible for them to be used for nefarious purposes.

Nir Eyal talks about using these techniques for good. A good way to test whether your idea is a morally good idea is to use the Manipulation Matrix technique. The Manipulation Matrix is a simple tool for entrepreneurs, employees, and investors to assess the value of their product to the consumer. Overall it helps organisations determine the best and most honest way to position their product to their buyers, analyse product/market fit, and consider what the implications of bringing it to market might be.

To use the Matrix, simply ask yourself and answer these two questions:

  • Would I use this product/service myself?
  • Will it help users materially improve their lives?

Depending on your answers, you will fall into one of the following four categories: Facilitator, Peddler, Entertainer, or Dealer.

The Facilitator

Would I use this product/service myself? Yes

Will it help users materially improve their lives? Yes

Ideally we should always aim to be a Facilitator, someone who offers a product or service that they would use themselves and that they believe improves people’s lives. To be a credible Facilitator, you have to have experienced the problem you aim to solve first hand at some point in your life. It gives you more credibility as an expert in your field and helps you relate to your audience, build trust, and show deep understanding of their pain points. Understanding leads to conversions and delight, and the more delighted your customers are, the more likely they will be to return and spread the good word about your product.

The Peddler

Would I use this product/service myself? No

Will it help users materially improve their lives? Yes

Unlike a Facilitator, a Peddler wouldn’t use their own product or service. Perhaps they have the best intentions of improving the lives of others with their product, but they themselves have no need or interest in using it. What does this mean for business? Trying to create a solution for a problem or pain you have no experience with is extremely difficult. Coming from an outside perspective, it is unlikely that you will fully understand all the intricacies of the problem or know if your product can truly make a difference. In this situation, you are more likely to have a mental disconnect between your team and real-life users, and this disconnect leaves more room for shortcomings in your offering or marketing materials. To overcome this issue, your business will need to invest heavily in research, development, and thorough testing to ensure relevance and effectiveness.

The Entertainer

Would I use this product/service myself? Yes

Will it help users materially improve their lives? No

The Entertainer is a marketer or businessman who would use their product, but knows that it adds little to no value or material improvement to their users’ lives. Their products don’t solve a real user problem (other than perhaps, boredom.) They exist purely for enjoyment and psychological satisfaction — although remember there’s nothing wrong with that. What does this mean for business? Whether it’s Instagram, Spotify, XBOX, or Candy Crush, products and apps built for art or entertainment can find great success, but as Nir warns, “art is often fleeting.” Over time, even a once beloved form of entertainment can become boring and abandoned. Long-term growth or success can be hard to come by. If you’re an Entertainer, you need to get as much of your product out while it’s still trendy or find a way to add variation or a new twist on it to keep your audience interested.

The Dealer

Would I use this product/service myself? No

Will it help users materially improve their lives? No

A Dealer is someone who wouldn’t use their own product and they know that it doesn’t provide any benefit or value to your audience. You’re offering your product purely to make a buck off of your audience (even if it ultimately is at their expense.) What does this mean for business? If your product is habit-forming or addictive (as the products discussed in Hooked are) and also offers no recognizable value to your user, you’re likely to develop a bad reputation. Yes, your product may sell, but at what cost? Being a Dealer is a highly volatile approach to your marketing and business in general. If you’re looking for long term success and answered “no” to our two qualifying questions, your business is more than likely not built for growth or customer delight.

Memento Mori — Try and leave this world a little better than you found it.

Nir does stress to use these behavioural techniques for good. He says,

“Do you believe what you’re working on is materially improving people’s lives. This isn’t a test for you to judge other people or for other people to judge you. It’s to sincerely ask the question of, hey, how do I make sure that I’m using my limited time on earth. How do I allocate my human capital towards something that can serve a higher purpose, that can do some good in the world.”

User Research and Conducting it

This part of the course goes into detail about what user research is and what are the different methods. The official definition they provide is: user research is a discipline that is providing insights, keyword insights, into product users, their perspectives and abilities to the right people at the right time. The more understandable definition is: user research is there to help answer three big questions.

What do people need?

What do people want? (which is really different to what they need)

Can they use the thing that we’re working on?

User research is for both new or already established ideas. In particular for a new idea there are tons of decisions a product maker makes about their product and not all of these decision need to be covered by user research however, it’s beneficial that the majority are covered. For ideas that are not new and you want to develop new features to improve the product, especially those new features that will involve a great deal of development work, these features should undergo user research.

The first thing you need to do is make it very clear for yourself, and for your team, what is the question that you’re trying to answer because after your research, you need to answer those initial questions in order to make firm decisions. Make a list of the questions you’re trying to answer. The research effort will fail if those questions are not answered. Write a list of all the assumptions, an assumption can easily be translated into a question. And it doesn’t have to be long. Sometimes one, two, three questions, it’s perfectly fine.

In Aaron’s interview he mentions the best thing to do is not waste time and just build something, such as a really rough prototype to test. I’m a real advocate of this, just build something really rough and build it quickly. I’ve had a few experiences where I’ve been in teams and we tend to get bogged down into research that doesn’t involve real users. It’s more of a theoretical approach that goes down a rabbit hole, it’s often then prettied up with fanciful words and beautiful metric diagrams. This leads to wasting a lot of time and you end up no better than when you first started. The best thing is to take a really pragmatic approach, build something quickly and test it with real users. Aaron adds:

“Well, I think that the thing you need to do is just build something. I realize that sounds a little backwards. But you can talk to as many people as you want in life, and you’ll get some good answers and some bad answers. But really the best way to get people’s feedback is to build something. It gives people something to interact with and then you start learning how they use it, what they really want, and you can go from there.”

However, if you’re not fortunate to have a prototype to test with, you can conduct user research by using these strategies:

Email — Open rates, click through rates, and task completion rates for recipients all provide insight into whether your idea has value.

Google AdWords — Purchase advertisements that target searches relevant to your business. You can know what language customers are using to find solutions related to your business, and you can measure click through rate to determine customer interest in the copy of the ad.

Landing Pages — You can build a landing page to complement your advertising. The landing page can be your proof of concept and allow you to test click through rates on buttons such as “buy now”, “register” or “share”. The clicks serve as further validation of the idea.

Buttons — Add buttons for specific features or services that your business will provide. Even if the buttons aren’t functional, you can measure interest and collect emails or other demographics on users. If a design element (such as a button) doesn’t actually work on your website, be sure to indicate that to users and explain to users why it isn’t working.

Here are some useful links that were provided that go into more detail about conducting user research:

A 5-Step Process for conducting user research

The UX Research Plan That Stakeholders Love

Interviewing Users

User and Task Analysis for Interface Design Book

Richard Fulchert the Head of Google Material UX and Engineering in this section talks about how research is a team sport, it’s a team effort. Research is never just the researcher’s job, it’s not just their responsibility. Richard mentions,

“So the data is not going to be always very helpful. So what I like to do is have people in the team be involved in that. If you have an engineer, if you have a product manager, the entrepreneur himself or herself, a designer, a marketing person, whoever you have. Have all of these people coming from all of these angles observe the same behaviour and decide what’s important here together. That’s going to be the way to analyse and synthesise the data. To decide together. It’s not always clear. It’s not always easy. I would say this is the hardest part of research. Is the understanding okay? What is the result here? What did we find out?”

Richard talks about the ‘rainbow spreadsheet’ which is a spreadsheet that allows you to List all the observations. Everything that you see, all the behaviours that you see. The Rainbow Spreadsheet, which takes its name from the different colours used in it to represent the study’s participants, is a spreadsheet with which all of the data collected during a UX study is centrally and simultaneously documented by a team of people; for example, through a Google Doc. It serves as the centrepiece for lessons learned from a study, and later turns into the final report.

The Rainbow Spreadsheet: A Collaborative Lean UX Research Tool

Validating your Idea — Market Demand and Trends

To validate your business idea, one of the best things you can do is conduct research on the internet using free tools.

You are trying to answer the question, “What’s currently going on in the world?”.

To answer that question, here are four exercises you can do to better understand trends around your idea and competition for similar ideas.

1. Keyword Evaluation (Google AdWords) What are people searching for? What do you notice after filtering the high volume keywords?

2. Content Competition (Google Search) What type of content appears in your searches? (articles or companies) Is this consistent for other keyword searches related to your idea?

3. Geographic Validation (Google Trends) Where do people live who are searching for related keywords? What barriers might exist to deliver the product or service?

4. Social Media Validation (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) What volume of people use keywords related to your idea? How are users talking about related ideas? Handy for communicating your idea and for marketing materials later.

Useful Tools:

Google Trends
Google’s Keyword Planner Tool
Google AdWords

Value Proposition: A communication Tool

Entrepreneurs and Businesses will often summarize two points into what is known as a value proposition. These two points are:

  • How to identify a problem or need in a certain user group
  • Ways to expand on ideas or solutions for this problem or need.

Value propositions serve to inform a customer what problem they are addressing and how the product is a solution to that problem. It is quite common for value propositions to specifically define a pain point present in the customer’s life. A value proposition is never permanent and may change as the market changes and how users’ needs change. Overall, a value proposition states a problem and a solution, but it can be molded to best communicate this message to a target audience.

Useful Link

4 Steps To Building A Compelling Value Proposition


To further validate your idea and to determine if your product is differentiated, you should look at competitors.

  • First, you you’ll need to know who your competitors are. You can quickly find the competition by searching for keywords related to your product idea. You want to make sure you use words that customers would use to describe your product or something similar.
  • Once you’ve done that, you can collect some basic info on the companies. Using, Facebook, and Twitter look at creation dates for companies are listed on these three sites. But do keep in mind that businesses could have started even sooner. You can find more information on your competitors by going to websites such as SimilarWeb and SEMrush. You can either search for websites or mobile apps. On the results page, you can get a sense for how the app is doing, the traffic sources, and keywords that people use to search for the app. Now if we switch the server to the website, it will look a little bit different. Here you can get a sense of the traffic overview, the geography of the traffic, referring websites, search keywords, including organic and paid, and social, referrals from different websites.
  • Other items you may be considering looking into, include the competitors’ social media interactions. What are they writing about, and how are customers talking about the brand or the product? If you’re iterating on your product, or trying to understand other companies’ value propositions. Look at their own homepages and landing pages for specific products.

Useful links:




The Difference Between Paid and Organic Search Results

Refining the Idea

Once you’ve done all this research and competitor analysis, the next step is to refine your idea. You can get sharp on your original idea or alter the idea based on what you learned from user research and other early idea validation.

Four activities that can help you get more clarity on your idea include:

1. The first is a Twitter description, how would you announce your product in a 140 characters, or less? This activity helps you get laser focus on the key user value and your product market fit.

2. The second is you could write a future press release. How would your product first appear in the news? You can use this structure to focus yourself and your team. The structure ensures that you capture your future vision.

3. The third is a one page executive summary. This is the shortest and clearest way to define your product.

4. And finally, the fourth is an experienced strategy template. This template is appropriate for defining new product categories.

Activity Templates to Refine Your Idea

Last Word

Thanks for reading this article. If you found this helpful, check back soon on my Medium account for the next part of the Google Product Design course. The next topic will be UX and UI. Don’t forget to check out the actual course itself via Udacity.

A little background

Hi, I’m Christine 🙂 I’m a product designer who’s been in the digital field for quite some time and have worked at many different companies; from large companies (as large as 84,000 employees), to mid size and to very small startups still making a name for themselves. Despite having a lot of experience I’m a product designer who has a fear of suffering from the dunning-kruger effect and so I’m continuously trying to educate myself and I’m always searching for more light. I believe to be a great designer you need to constantly hone your skills especially if you are working in the digital space which is constantly in motion.

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