In today's market, innovation matters. Yet, innovation still remains an elusive pursuit. The key begins with designing experiences that deliver value and enhance relationships.

The quest for innovation is the most common pursuit in business. Yet, the most common pursuit is often the most elusive and ambiguous in theory and in practice. However, when innovation is achieved it makes the difference between products that are interesting and ones that are market defining. While user-centered design methods are a fundamental part of our innovation practice, we prefer to speak more of the concept of value-centered design.


Innovation Is About Value

Before we dive any deeper into innovation, let’s make one thing clear: innovation isn’t about technology. Some people might call a futuristic technology innovative, even if it won’t be ready for public consumption for a decade. We don’t. For us, innovation is about value. When you design a connected product or service, your goal is to give users something valuable that they can seamlessly integrate into their daily lives, and get enough users to adopt it so that your business gets value in return.

Throughout the years, we have guided our clients toward the idea of value-centric design. It allows you to see users as a partner in your effort. If you understand their contexts, design what they need, and deliver lasting value to them, they return that value to you. In a symbiotic relationship, everybody wins. While user-centric design brings focus to the user, the value-centric design takes things one step further instead of just uncovering what users want, you’re building a sustained relationship based on a product experience that connects with them. If it’s sustainable, then it’s good for you and good for them.

Beyond the shiny icons, clever features, and compelling technology, a product experience is measured by what it allows people to accomplish. Whether needs are met by a new feature or a better solution to a common issue, the promise of value is what drives users to pick up your product in the first place. Your job is to constantly make sure that their investment of time and money was worth it. If your application doesn’t improve how users’ needs are met, you have missed the point of great product and experience design. Ultimately, you want to create an experience that people never want to be without.


Value Is A Two Way Street

As businesses offer products and services to customers, they make a value proposition: “If you purchase this product, we promise it will bring you the following benefits…” Implied in a value proposition is that both the user and the business will benefit. The benefits will be both tangible and intangible. The more valuable a product offering is in the mind of the consumer, the larger the increase in customer base, revenue, or equity for a business. For example, Netflix’s early value proposition was that by signing up, users would get immediate and convenient access to an enormous DVD library on their own terms, without late fees. Underlying that promise was the potential to take market share from movie rental companies that did things the old-fashioned way.

Value propositions are crafted early on and shape the design process. Value is about creating a sense of worth that moves beyond money and ultimately creates meaningful relationships. With the hope of building a relationship that can go anywhere, new mobile, connected services need to intrinsically tie their goals to the aspirational goals of the user. By capturing the fundamental impact you’ll have on users lives, you can ensure the end goals, for both user and enterprise, are always in sight.


Value is about creating a sense of worth that moves beyond money and ultimately creates meaningful relationships.


Generating Value That Lasts

Value has a life span. Make sure your value curve doesn’t peak too early. The best services clearly show value potential at the start and grow progressively over time. Eventually, as users reach their saturation point, products or services must find ways to deliver new value if they are to remain meaningful in users’ lives. Think about Twitter. What started off as a simple service has continued to add features, communities, and third-party APIs that revolve around making the service more valuable for users. Sustained value over a period of time creates a value surplus that encourages users to give something back or engage more deeply. When your users are thinking of what more they can do with your product and make it a priority, you have set the stage for large-scale innovation.


Follow Your Insights

Gaining insights into users’ lives is what makes the difference between experiences with a clear reason for being and those that are easily forgotten. Insights come from contextual research into your users’ lives and give you visible targets for delivering on the value promises you’ve made. They guide you toward those “a-ha” moments when users recognize a digital service that understands the small behavioral patterns or pain points no one else has been insightful enough to solve. They show the creator of their experience cared enough to take the time to listen, learn, and apply their conclusions to the structure of the experience.

Insights aren’t ripe red apples sitting in a tree – they are hidden behind many layers and take time and persistence to identify. As you search for innovation, look back to your research and put it all together. If those insights are the stars of your design, innovation is the constellation that organizes them together. By following the insights and not your own instincts, you will be able to shape compelling experiences with true innovation value.


Convergence Creates Unique Value

Mobile and connected experiences create great opportunities to bring new value to experiences or situations that traditional experiences never could. As you chart your path to product design innovation, ask yourself: “What does this service delivery that only this medium can offer?” Users are still exploring the bounds of new technology. The innovations that step outside the crowded space of how things have always been done and celebrate new ways to leverage technology are quick to get users’ attention.

But the ones that deeply consider the meaning and importance of a product experience for consumers and businesses are the ones that deliver lasting value.As a product strategy and design company, Punchcut works with companies to help them uncover opportunities for innovation and define the path forward in this new era of connectedness. Our methods and insights are focused on achieving product design innovation that is lasting and meaningful. Our unique value-centered design approach captures the multi-dimensional goals that ultimately create successful product experiences for consumers and our clients.