by Carol Vercellino, CEO of Oak City Labs

A product vision conveys the purpose of a product and what problem it will solve. A strong vision motivates and inspires developers, but a weak vision can result in misfires and multiple rounds of revisions. Simply put, the clearer the vision, the more efficiently developers can create software that hits the target.


In this article (and video) we’ll share best practices for effectively sharing your vision with a developer.

What is a product vision?

To start, you have to think about what are the key components of a product vision. They’re very much like what a value proposition would have – what problem are you trying to solve, who is it for, what’s the unique value proposition? What’s unique about this idea? What’s the market size, what do you see the product becoming in the future. It’s almost like a mini pitch stack that you would pitch to VCs. This really helps the developer not only understand what needs to be built but also who it’s being built for and why it’s so important for the market.


Making the pitch

So how do you pitch such a big, theoretical idea so that a developer can then transfer that into actions. Oftentimes when we work with clients we like to take the really big picture idea and start to break it down. So we’ll break it down into buckets, or larger ideas, and then we’ll break that down into smaller features. And then from there, the technical team can break it down even further into what we call stories, or technical items. That really just becomes the basic list of work that needs to be done or estimated so you understand how much it might cost.


What are common mistakes that clients make when sharing that vision? 

The most common mistakes that people make are not doing enough market research or not solving a problem that people will pay for. It’s rarely a technical challenge. I get asked a lot about whether something is technically feasible. Most things are, given enough time and money. But almost always, the mistake is on the market side. So we really try to dig into [understanding] what problem is someone solving and how much market research has been completed. As developers, we like to build products that will be used. So we often ask questions about the business model, market and strategy. That not only inspires us but it helps us understand what the product will become or what it might look like in the future. 


So developers really want to create technology that solves problems and exceeds expectations. The first step in that process is understanding the vision behind the product. A productive conversation about vision is absolutely essential.


I’m Carol Vercellino, co-founder of Oak City Labs. Thanks for watching, and make sure you subscribe to our channel to catch more of our tech tip videos.