Prioritize the key interaction screen to set a solid foundation for your product’s future.

Image: Jess Watters, Unsplash

You got out of the building. You talked to your prospective customers. Finally, you’ve built and field tested your first prototype. It’s a little clunky and rough around the edges but it did its job: you now have a decent idea of what people in your target market care about. It’s time to design your product’s next iteration, the minimum viable product (MVP). Where do you ?

Killer feature

In general, I always recommend startups I work with to begin with the key interaction screen and walk backwards from there.

The key interaction screen is where the magic happens. It’s where your users snap a pic and apply that cool filter effect. It’s where they chat with their friends and turn into animated puppies at a tap of a button. It’s where they try on a virtual pair of kicks when they shop for a new outfit online. The key interaction screen is the reason why they are using your app in the first place.

Starting your design process with the key interaction screen, to the exclusion of everything else, gives you free reign to work on the most consequential, the most fundamental part of the product. To explore even the most radical ideas. To make as few compromises as possible. To turn the key interaction screen into the killer feature it was meant to be.

Holistic approach

Focusing on the key interaction screen alone is not enough, of course. When designing any product you have to take a holistic approach. It’s the user experience as a whole that counts, not just its individual parts.

So once you have your key interaction screen in place you work your way down to the remaining parts of the product. You design the camera roll screen for your camera app, the chat list for your messaging app, the product feed for your e-commerce store. All the basics you ought to have, but more of a supporting cast than the stars of the show.

As your key interaction screen solidifies, though, it will set the stage for any such auxiliary considerations, informing the design of the product as a whole. Crucially, it will enable you to align all the secondary features around the single purpose of directly supporting the key interaction screen. Not the other way around.

Solid foundation

There is no single, correct framework for designing an MVP. What will be enough in one situation won’t necessary be enough in another. But regardless of the particular situation you are in, identifying and then prioritizing the key interaction screen in your design process will set a solid foundation for the future work to come. Start there.

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