Before starting any product, we should have a clear vision of where to take your product and how it's going to be in the end state. An effective product vision inspires the development team and stakeholders. A product vision isn’t a detailed plan that explains how to reach the goal. Its just a skeleton provide you a high level view of your product or services.
What is Product Vision?
The product vision should act as a “north star” for all product development. It can set the direction for where a product will go or the end state a product will deliver in the future. A product vision represents the core essence of the product and answers the following core questions.
1- What problem product is solving?
2- What is the purpose of creating a product?
3- What change your product will bring?
4- What benefits your customers will have?
5- What a product going to be in the end state?
The process of defining a product vision statement allows all of the project stakeholders to visualize the product in context and not as a catalog of features and design efforts. To develop a product vision statement, you start with the end-user and define:
- What problem product is solving? ?
- Who is the audience you are solving the problem for?
Next, you evaluate the specific job to be done:
- What is the purpose of creating a product?
- What change your product will bring?
Last, you outline your deliverables:
- What benefits your customers will have?
- What a product going to be in the end state?
Essentially, drafting a product vision statement is a method for evaluating and appraising every design decision in context with both the needs of the business and the end-user. It also builds out the connection between user experience design and product management.
Why is A Product Vision Statement Important?
There are significant advantages to creating a product vision statement:
- A vision statement explicitly defines who will be using the product.
- A vision statement expresses the solution to the problem those users are facing.
- A vision statement differentiates the product from what currently exists in the market.
A product vision statement establishes a definite area of focus for product, which helps businesses set specific success criteria and clear objectives to determine what features the product needs to be successful.
What information Product Vision should have?
- The most important part of any business is customers, whether they are B2B or B2C. It's the most important part of the Vision Statement.
- It should state crisp and clear product Goals.
- Goals should include motivation behind it.
- A clear and catchy statement that inspires the team and audience
- It would be better if have realistic and ambitious time constraints or time frame.
Product Vision and Company Vision
There is a difference between a product and company vision. Product Vision is crucial for business as this is the foundation for further steps that will come in product development. These steps are-
- Product Strategy
- Product Roadmap
- Product Backlog
- Development process
Company visions are often too broad to be good product visions. Company visions are also usually meant to be customer-facing marketing messages, while product visions are internal messages that align your team.
Amazon’s company vision is:
To be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
That’s a compelling vision for Amazon as a company, and you could argue is relevant for the Kindle. It is a device where you can buy any book you want online and begin reading it immediately.
While the Kindle’s vision isn’t publicly available, there is a great interview with some of its leaders from a few years ago. In it, they say, “paper is … the inspiration for the Kindle of the future: a weightless object that lasts more or less forever and is readable in any light. “Paper is the gold standard.”
This is a specific vision for what they think the vision of the experience using the Kindle should be. It definitely hits all four principles.
Lets check another example of Google-
and Google's corporate vision is “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.”
Google’s most popular product is its search engine service. This product enables people to easily access information from around the world. but if talk about some of the other products of Google like, Google Business Suit, Android, Chrome etc. are not directly based on this statement. Let’s have a look at the product vision for Google Calendar. The team realized in about 2006 that no other company offered a great calendar product and experience. Therefore, the team came up with a simple 4 point vision:
- Fast, visually appealing, and joyous to use
- Drop-dead simple to get information into the calendar
- More than boxes on a screen (reminders, invitations, etc.)
- Easy to share so you can see your whole life in one place
It contains no detailed explanation on a feature level, although the goal is clear. It may not be sexy, but it helped the team to build the most popular calendar application on the planet.
Many companies create more than one product. For example, Google has many products such as Gmail, Google Search, Google Drive, Google Maps, Chrome browser, Adwords, and many many more. Google probably has around 20,000 developers which means that they have hundreds if not thousands of tech teams. Each team needs to have a vision for its particular product.
Google's company-wide vision statement is to provide access to the world’s information in one click.
However, the product vision statement for the Google Maps product might be something like to organize and make accessible an experience that highlights what matters most to each user who wants to find geographical information and make journeys with maximum ease.
How to define Product Vision - Product Vision Statement Template
For me vision creation is of basically two parts.
2- Combining all research to a one Vision statement
Before defining a product vision, it’s important to have some valid data. The whole product discovery process is obviously a great way to get data and find answers to open questions. Without the data, it doesn’t make sense to define a vision for the next couple of years. It’s, however, important to remind ourselves that a product vision needs to be regularly challenged, evaluated, and updated based on new data.
According to Roman Pichler’s product vision board, it’s important to answer 4 key questions:
- What’s the target group?
- What are the customer needs?
- What is and will be the product and it’s USP(s)?
- What are the business goals?
Alternatively, you can work with other models, e.g. the lean business model canvas focusing on the product. What’s most important is gaining a clear picture of your customer, your market, the problems you want to solve, and your business goals. You can build a product vision based on that.
2- Combining all research to a one Vision statement
Author Geoffrey Moore offers a useful format in his seminal book Crossing the Chasm. It can be used by marketers to create a positioning statement or by product managers to create an effective product vision statement:
For [our target customer], who [customer’s need], the [product] is a [product category or description] that [unique benefits and selling points].
Unlike [competitors or current methods], our product [main differentiators].
Email App Product Vision Example
For business e-mail users
who want to better manage the increasing number of messages they receive when out of the office
our product Email App
is a mobile e-mail solution that provides a real-time link to their desktop e-mail for sending, reading, and responding to important messages.
Unlike other mobile e-mail solutions,
Email App is secure, autosysnc, and always connected.
At this point, hopefully, you’ve identified what’s special about your product and why your target market needs it. Now you can use these key points—and the template above—to draft a compelling statement.
There are few more templates you can use-
- We believe (in) a [noun: world, time, state, etc.] where [persona] can [verb: do, make, offer, etc.], for/by/with [benefit/goal].
- To [verb: empower, unlock, enable, create, etc.] [persona] to [benefit, goal, future state].
- Our vision is to [verb: build, design, provide], the [goal, future state], to [verb: help, enable, make it easier to...] [persona].
The great thing about a product vision statement is that it also doubles as an elevator pitch. You can use this to describe your company to someone in the time it takes to ride with them in an elevator (say 30 seconds).
If you can explain the value your product adds to the world to a stranger in 30 seconds, then you have a compelling product vision statement!
Often when you join a company as a product manager, the product vision may already exist. If so, then your job is to make sure that this product vision is well-known and understood by the tech team. If a product vision does not exist, your job is to either create one or to work with others to ensure one does exist.
- Successful companies tend to have a clear vision (a desired image of the future) and a clear mission statement (how they can take certain actions today that results in the vision becoming a reality in the future).
- Since a company can have many products, each product or team will also have a product vision statement that illustrates how this product/team makes a contribution to the company-wide vision.
- The product vision statement is a pre-requisite to creating a product roadmap for the product/tech team.