Tiny Experiments: How to Hedge Your Digital Product Bets and Invest in the Right Features

You have ideas for building a digital product. Now it’s time to make it happen.
You have ideas for building a digital product. Now it’s time to make it happen. But how should you go about it to make sure that you’re investing your resources in the right features at the right time so you can put the app in the hands of the right people, start generating revenue, and gather feedback to optimize the next version?

The “tiny experiment” approach is our version of “eating the elephant one bite at a time” in app development. It helps us focus on the right features at the right time so our clients can get the most value out of their investments.

What Are “Tiny Experiments” in App Development?

We can sit on our bean bags and strategize all day but talk is cheap! How can we know if a specific feature is appealing to a specific audience? This is when the rubber meets the road. Don’t be one of those guys who plan out the full scope of an app, spend months developing all the features, only to find out that the product doesn’t resonate with the target market.

That’s why we love the concept of tiny experiments. Essentially, it’s about breaking down the scope of a digital product into smaller features. Then, you’d develop and test one at a time before you build out the full scope.

The process involves triaging your ideas, reducing the scope, validating the idea, and building the next feature or improving an existing one. Instead of biting off more than you can chew, the framework helps break down your scope into bite-size chunks by focusing on smaller feature sets, or even a single feature, rather than the full product.

Triage Your Ideas

You may have a ton of ideas but not every one of them will translate into a successful app development project. Before you invest in the process, you need to separate the wheat from the chaff.

First, list out all your ideas and then put them into three buckets: drop it, defer it, and do it. Obviously, we’re going to tackle those in the “do it” category, which are great ideas that also have the potential to achieve your business objectives, such as building an audience or generating revenues.

Narrow down your list to a handful of viable projects and look for ones that you have the time and resources to work on right now. What if you still have a few solid ideas to choose from? Well, here’s the “scientific” way to deal with it — just pick one!

There’s only one way to find out for sure if an idea will work — give it a whirl! You may start working on an idea and realize that you don’t like it. You may turn the process into an opportunity to learn new skills for other projects. You may love the project and it becomes a springboard for more good ideas. Or, the idea simply turns into a blockbuster!

To make this “give it a whirl” approach work, however, you need to stay agile and pivot quickly by chunking down your scope.

Skateboard Your Scope

This step is the core of the tiny experiment concept: break down the full scope of your project into smaller chunks (i.e., minimum viable products — MVPs) while making sure you can “ship” each iteration as a standalone product.

Here at Camber, we call this the Skateboard method. When we create a strategy for a digital product development project, we break it down into milestones that consist of small but complete solutions that we create and release on a continuous basis.

The combination of these small solutions, built intelligently with the long-term roadmap in mind, creates a robust and releasable product at every step. As you can see in the illustration above, instead of a wheel that does nothing for the client, the skateboard represents a complete solution that offers real-world value.

This approach allows the client to release an MVP, grow an audience, find out what the users want, respond to changes in the market, and gather data to inform the next round of development and create more value.

For example, when we upgraded the eDispatches First Responder App to deliver a modern smartphone experience, we planned out the ground-up user experience overhaul for both the mobile apps and company website. Along with the new visual response system, we added features such as personalization settings and location tracking in our long-term roadmap. These features improved upon the existing “skateboard” and eventually turned the app into a Ferrari.

Validate and Iterate

When you launch your skateboard, the goal isn’t to go 80 mph. Instead, you should aim to validate the idea with a small but targeted audience, get their comments, and make adjustments. When you gather feedback, go for quality over quantity. If you can get a few raving fans who can’t stop talking about your app, then it’s a good sign that you can scale it up and successfully promote it to a larger audience.

Validating an idea will save you a lot of time in the long run because you won’t be spending the resources to build a monster app only to find out that you don’t have a market. These tiny experiments can also help you identify what works and what doesn’t at every step, isolating every element so you can tweak the right thing as you go.

Once the idea is validated, you can take the next steps: build the next feature and release the next version. You can leverage what you have learned during the “skateboard” phase to compound your results. You can also tap into your existing audience, which you have built along the way, to spread the word about your app.

Power Up Your Digital Product Development With Tiny Experiments

While tiny experiments are small chunks of a larger project, they aren’t random pieces. To make sure that you’re effectively accumulating the results toward your big vision, you need to start with a product strategy and a long-term roadmap. Then, you can chunk it down into fully functional versions along the product development process.

You should also incorporate checkpoints in the timeline to evaluate the product’s market performance. Stay agile and be ready to pivot when necessary to ensure that your long-term roadmap is still meeting users’ expectations and demands.

Ready to see how you can design tiny experiments and create MVPs to turn your app idea into reality? Get in touch for a free consultation and come skateboard with our team of experienced strategists and developers!


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