Every product is at risk of becoming outdated and losing out in the market to competitors who offer better features. Keeping your product competitive and profitable hinges on your ability to add new features that continuously improve your product or cater to your customers’ changing needs.
How do you know which features will give you an edge in the market and benefit your consumers? You conduct thorough and targeted product feature research. Let’s dive in and discuss what product feature research is, the ways to conduct product feature research, and ways to make your research more productive.
What Is Product Feature Research?
Simply put, product feature research is an inquiry into adding a new feature to your product. It can take many forms. You might do focused feature research as you’re building your product initially to determine which features you should include. You might do research into adding features to your existing product. Either way, the focus is on assessing the viability and demand for specific features rather than a product or service as a whole.
How Do You Use Product Feature Research?
There are several ways to use product feature research. If there is a particular feature you consider adding, you may use feature research to determine whether there is enough demand for that feature to justify creating it.
More commonly, you can use product feature research to assess several potential features you’re considering. You can use it to narrow that list and determine which features are worth adding and you can also use feature research as a path toward feature prioritization.
Types of Product Feature Research
There are a few stages or types of product feature research. The most comprehensive and effective way to do product feature research is to include each of these stages, but depending on your budget, you can select which stages to include and which to forego.
Either before or after you generate your initial ideas for new features, it’s important to gather an understanding of the market. What does your target audience want from the type of product you are offering? What are they getting from your competitors but not from you? What do they want but are missing from both you and your competitors? What features do your competitors offer and how can you do better than them?
Asking and exploring each of these questions allows you to understand where your features may fit into the market and the demand. You need to add features that are truly solving a problem your users have, instead of adding features that don’t have real applications.
After you have thoroughly formed your idea for the new feature, it’s time to survey users and potential users to see what they think. Get their opinions on as many aspects of the feature as possible, like its use cases, profitability, accessibility, and so on. The more thoroughly formed your idea is at this point, the more you’ll get out of your survey.
In doing this, you can lay out a clear list of product features and benefits with definition and clarity on each one. Instead of guessing about the benefits you think a new feature will bring to your users, you can ask them directly.
If you have several features you’re considering adding, surveying your users or potential users is also an excellent way to decide how to prioritize product features. Using the feedback from these surveys and your own knowledge, you can create a feature priority matrix. This type of matrix has “value” on one axis and “effort” on the other. You can map out where each feature lies on the matrix and prioritize them based on the one that brings the most value with the least amount of effort required. This is a tried and true strategy for deciding how to prioritize features for product managers.
Finally, after you’ve formulated your feature ideas, surveyed users for opinions on those features, outlined your feature prioritization, and created each feature, you can test out each feature before rolling it out to everyone. In this type of testing, you actually have a select group of users try out the feature in a beta test. You’ll get critical feedback about changes you can make to the feature to improve it, and you can also see how people use the feature and what they like best so you can market it appropriately.
Tips for Product Feature Research
Product feature research is a vital part of your feature development, but it does have costs, so you want your research to be as productive as possible. Follow these tips to make the most of every dollar you invest.
Invest in a High-Quality Survey Tool
As you’re surveying users for their opinions on a feature idea or an already developed feature, the survey tool you choose will make a difference. Opt for an AI-driven survey tool like GroupSolver. This tool allows you to gather opinions in the form of written answers rather than multiple choice because the tool can analyze all those answers into numerical data and clear conclusions. This way, you get authentic answers and opinions rather than limiting users to the few possible responses you’ve predicted in a multiple-choice survey.
Focus on Your Target Audience
When you’re surveying users or potential users, choose your survey respondents carefully. Focus on people who have a use case for your product, whether that includes people who work in a specific industry, people with kids, or people fitting certain other criteria. Yes, there may be people outside that audience who could use your feature in ways you didn’t expect, but your investment is best spent focusing on your primary audience.
Launching Your Product Feature Research
If you have a feature idea you’re eager to develop, the key is to be wise about your prioritization and planning, and that starts with product feature research. Use the tips and steps above to get the most value from your testing, and start today with a GroupSolver survey demo.