How Do I Know My Product Is Ready To Launch? I Want It To Be Perfect!
You’ve got a product in the works.
People you know have tried your product, and given you feedback about it. You have a list of things you’d like to improve, that you know aren’t too great. People are using it, and asking for features, bug fixes, and improvements.
And so, you’ve been trying to make the product perfect.
In your mind, unless it’s perfect, the product won’t be good enough. But you know that’s a little silly, and yet, you’re combating your own indecision.
Whether it’s about your product itself, about the marketing material, about the website or about the first email blast, you’re paralyzed.
Here’s an account from a post on reddit that might sound familiar:
I have an app that I’ve been developing (social) for a while that has been on the store for a bit now. It has about 500 accounts created, but I have done ZERO marketing, advertising, tweeting, etc. because I’ve been trying to essentially make the app perfect. In fact, I’ve actually been hiding its existence a little.
Each update, there are multiple new features, fixes, additions, edits, improvements that I deem CRITICAL to the success of the app. I am petrified to start marketing the app and trying to actively get users because in my mind a relatively small UI/UX update is completely necessary. A cool feature that I think of has to be in the app before I “launch” because I feel like users won’t like the app if that feature is present when they first make an account.
Can someone slap me? Or tell me how I know that the app is “good enough” to start trying to get users with?
That poster isn’t the only one:
“I’m legit making the same mistake with a clothing brand I’ve been working on”, someone shares. Others write: “I’m dealing with the same thing!”, “I’m glad I’m not the only one in this boat!”, “Dude I am in the exact same position as you right this second.”.
Throughout the thread, there’s one advice that makes the chorus. “Just ship.”
The “Just Ship” Advice
The top-voted reply cuts to the chase:
Ship. Never stop shipping. If you don’t ship, you don’t have an app, you just have a cool personal toy you’re playing with each day.
Stop being afraid. Ship.
Being afraid of launching to an empty room can be scary. You’ve invested so much in your idea, the thought of dealing with rejection or indifference makes you step back instead of stepping up.
Another person writes:
Your app will never be perfect.
The sooner you accept this the better, you can continually improve it but it will never be done!
Release it to see if it’s worth spending your time on or not.
Shipping your product and having it in the wild will give you some real-world usage data.
The sooner you launch, the sooner you can start collecting real world feedback from your users about what they actually want, instead of guessing (and likely being wrong) what they want.
You can’t beat real knowledge from real users. So “Just Ship” and collect real feedback.
That’s the first advice. But there’s this counterpoint:
The “Ship Quality” Advice
In another forum, there’s another thread where the poster states that “Just ship it” is not always the right mindset.
If I followed the “just ship it” motto I would’ve just spent a day on the landing page and ship it. But I don’t agree with that motto at all. The landing page is what sells the app. I knew that a week of work on it would pay off more for all the previous work that I did.
So now people are sharing and discussing the app because they were impressed by the design and interactivity of the landing page, which leads to more sales.
His counterpoint is fair: there’s a minimum of quality you need to meet so that what you have is worth buying, worth remarking about, worth sharing to others.
So which suggestion should you pick?
The Different Lens: It’s Not About The Product
Under both of these suggestions, there’s a focus on the user, as it should. Get real user feedback. Launch something of quality that users will find remarkable. There’s also a focus on the product and how it’s packaged.
Your indecision, however, is a matter of something else than the product or the user. It’s a matter of confidence.
Confidence that it will be well received.
Confidence that it will be enough.
Confidence that it will not disappointment.
Confidence that it will matter.
Confidence that it will come at the right time for your buyers.
So much of that is outside your control.
But you do have control over your confidence. You can build up your confidence with a little bit of… theory!
Gaining Confidence Using A Little Buyer Behavior Theory
The truth about your buyer? Your buyer behaves just like buyers buying other products. There are some patterns that make all buyers behave in similar ways.
So with a little bit of theory, you can more easily answer questions like these:
- Should I build some more features before I ship?
- Should I remove features before I ship?
- Should I concentrate on the product or the marketing site?
- Should I add polish or should I keep it rough in places?
- How much should I charge?
- Should I charge right away or should I give my product for free?
- Will my buyers pass the word about my product?
This blog has articles to help illuminate a lot of the variables needed to answer these. They’re all based around the Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory of Buyer Behavior.
Here’s what we’re confident we can say about the buyer’s behavior by applying the theory:
- The Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory shares a simple idea: people don’t buy products, they hire a product for a job.
- There are Four Forces in the mind of the buyer. Two helping towards a “yes, purchase”, two putting the breaks towards “not now, not this”. Make sure the first two are greater than the last two, and your buyers have good reasons to purchase.
- The fourth force is special. It’s a gravity well pulling the buyer like no other force. Is your product competing with the gravity well of the habits?
- All products compete with this one common competitor, including yours.
- Having too many features almost surely brings anxiety about your product, rather than adding appeal.
- You’re not selling to buyers, and you’re certainly not selling to a typical buyer. You’re selling your product to situations. Try “when”.
- Once you start getting buyers, you’ll want to understand the situation that caused them to look for your product, using specially-crafted interview questions like these.
- Your buyers are buying into more than your product. They’re buying into your ideas, into what you publish. They’re hiring your newsletter too.
If you’re worried about adding more delays for the launch of your product, no need for more reading material. “Just Ship” is the advice you probably need.
But for your next project, or to know how to reframe your confidence for your current project, consider reading the stuff linked above. It’s solid stuff you can build your confidence on.