How to Design Products People Love…and Buy



When you set out to create a new product, whether it’s a physical product, an app or an ebook, you aim to give your customers what they want and need. But how can you design one product to suit the needs of many individuals?

The Jobs-to-be-done framework is viewed at as being one of the most effective ways to reach breakthrough insights within a particular market. These are some insights to help you use this framework to create profitable new products.

Talk First, Design Products Later

Don’t make the mistake may designers and inventors make and think “I know what people want”.

Creating a successful New Product takes real insight and you simply can’t guess what the market will love. You need to get real info.

Connect with your target customers.

Use the power of social networking to find friends of friends who fit the bill.

Eventually you will likely need to talk to strangers. You can tell them you’re doing a research project and you will seem less strange.

Me? I try to use parties to get insight on my projects. It may sound obvious, but after a couple of beverages, people are more open and willing to talk. Instead of resorting to small-talk, use the opportunity to talk about your projects. At this point, you don’t have any valuable IP to protect anyway…just a hunch.

My Example: Book Writing App

I’m working on an app idea which helps people write that book they’ve always wanted to write. Last night I was at a dinner event and to stave off boredom, I discussed my project with the person next to me at dinner. Lucky me, this person was actually trying to write a book! Your customers are everywhere, you just need to ask!

Focus on Motivations and Desired Outcomes

When talking to your customers, you don’t just need to know what a they want, you need to know why they want it.

Just like you THINK you know what a customer wants, so do they! A customer may THINK they know what they want, but it’s from their own standpoint and they may be blind to their actual underlying needs. You need to talk to users, not just to find out what they want but WHY they want it.

Use the following framework:

When ________________________(situation),

I want to______________________(motivation),

so I can_______________________(outcome).

You can print this template or simply write it down and get interviewees to fill in responses. Or… you can make notes during your conversations and fill these in later (use a spreadsheet for each project). The latter is probably easier.

My Example – A new App for Book Writing

From my interview notes:

“When I sit down to write

I need uninterrupted time

So I can get on a roll where the words really start flowing

Your aim here is to uncover unmet needs and desired outcomes ONLY, so DO NOT allow interviewees to jump to technologies or solutions.

It needs to be about unmet needs or desired outcomes.

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved”

Keep Asking Why

When talking to your customers and they tell you their desired outcome, go deeper. Keep asking why. This will help you shift from what they THINK they need to the underlying motivations. This is where Insights are formed and where innovation is born.


Drill —> Make a Hole —> Hang Picture

I need a drill so I can make a hole in my wall…Why?

So I can hang a picture…Why?

So that every time I see it, I’m reminded of one of the best days of my life

Through this process, you’ll uncover a potential user’s fears and frustrations, desires and motivations.

Product Insight from writing Stories

Now that you have a better understanding about the jobs which need to be done, you can create a new product which satisfies more of the customer’s desires and prevents their pains and frustrations.

Return to your high-level Job (eg. Write a Book)

Identify smaller jobs which resolve the high-level job

Look at how people solve the problem now

Write a Job Story about an ideal scenario where you imagine, investigate and explore product features which incorporate the motivations, desires and anxieties you’ve learned about.

When you have solid concepts, it’ll be time to Prototype and Test…a separate process

My example: A new Book Writing App

“I don’t get that much time to myself each week. Sometimes I sit down to write and I get called off to do other things, more important things. It’s hard to make time for writing when other things have priority. I’m not doing this as a job, so sometimes I have trouble justifying it. My wife, she’s great, she encourages me to write more and reassures me that it’s an important thing for me to keep doing. Having my family’s buy-in has been key to my progress”

Possible Product Features:

  • Notifications in the app need to create a sense of importance for writing sessions
  • The app could automatically put the device into airplane mode while it’s open?
  • The app should somehow enlist Family, Friends or a writing community to provide reinforcement and assure the writer that their writing time is justified.



The Jobs-to-be-done framework is an effective ways to create new products based on real market insights. It takes a bit of effort, but it will make your product a hit. Get out there and talk to your customers, ask why and don’t stop until you learn what makes them tick! A great design will be sure to follow.

Does it all sound like a lot to do? Read this post about “Productivity Tips on how to fit your projects into your lifestyle”

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