November 3, 2023

Benefits of releasing your tech product in versions

It can be tempting to keep adding features to your app. More features mean more value, right? Wrong. Sadly 😟

Unfortunately, I see this happen too often and the tech founders who often flounder to release their products are the ones who feel they need an answer for every possible use case. When the reality is, you cannot know everything before going live, and the pressure to know everything leads to assumptions.

When explaining versioning, I like to use real-life examples and one that always stands out for me is Instagram. When Instagram was launched, the product offered a feed where you could post a picture (with filters), and a small caption to your audience of followers, who could then like the photo and leave a comment. Now, Instagram offers 24-hour stories, videos, live, AR filters, reels, messaging, private accounts, public accounts, paid advertising, electronic commerce and honestly so many more features than I can list here. If you want to know more you can Google it. Importantly, Instagram built this list of features with time, they did not try to launch with everything. If they did, well the project would have taken years and been extremely expensive. Now I’m sure you see the benefit of launching with a few features instead of banking on the big bang launch.

Of course, I’m not trying to put you off, you can develop as many features as you want (Instagram did) but isn’t it so much more powerful to develop them with live and engaged users on the product?

Continue reading for a few benefits of going live with a refined set of features and benefits.

Build a spear and not a swiss army knife

When talking about building a tech product, I often like to use the analogy that you are better off creating a spear over a swiss army knife.

A spear can have many tips, but to be effective, all of its force needs to move in one direction. This can be likened to having one core feature that answers the problem that the tech product is trying to solve, and then other features that complement this.

A swiss army knife, well, we all know what that is. A nail file, a tiny pair of frustrating scissors, a little saw blade, a corkscrew, a can opener. A bunch of tools, not one of them does an awesome job, but all of them together achieve their goal.

Here are some things to take into consideration when dealing with a swiss army knife or a big first scope. From a user's perspective, a large tech product feels overwhelming. From a management point of view, the tech quickly becomes unmanageable if you don’t have enough resources to support it. From a marketing point of view, the potential for a strong message becomes diluted.

Benefits of releasing in versions

Better management of budgets and timelines

Going to market with a more refined scope increases the percentage chance of the product being finished. More polished features mean a tighter grasp on timelines and the subsequent budget. A smaller initial scope equals less investment of resources.

Removal of muddy ‘nice to have’ features

A muddy feature is something that obscures the view into the crystal-clear water that is your product. If you want to learn more about building a first version, you can download our eBook here.

To summarise, you are not the end user of the product. You may be very passionate, and it may have been your idea but the majority of the time, you will not be the end user of your product. How could you be? You will see everything with rose-coloured glasses or an overly critical eye — your experience with your own product will always be skewed. Unfortunately, because of your unique view on your own product, this means that ‘muddy features’ can easily make their way into the project scope.

It’s important to be disciplined when launching your first version of your product and choosing what features are best to add in later versions. Chat to an expert, book a free strategy call with Moonward.

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