A Digital Product is different in a number of ways. First, they provide utility to the user – to store information, learn new things, or interact with others. Second, the pages tend to be fairly dynamic, customising the experience and content based on that user. To give an example:
- Facebook – all members log in and get the same page. But that page changes radically between members depending on who their friends are and what they’ve done.
- 12WBT – all members get delicious recipes. But the recipe I see as a female wanting to lose weight will be different to the one you might see as a male on a strength program. Your weekly nutrition and exercise plan is completely different, as is your shopping list, the videos you see, etc.
A static site can be relatively straightforward to build, with a wide variety of tools available ranging from popular ones like WordPress or Drupal, through to more enterprise options like Sitecore or Adobe CQ.
Digital product development is generally more involved, due to higher technical complexity. The focus is more on the user experience and providing that utility. Technical problems like caching and site speed become trickier – speeding up a static site is generally pretty straightforward, but a page that is different for each user is an entirely different challenge.
In creating Digital Products, we tend to focus on “features”. These features are things people can do – a simple feature might be to upload their profile picture, while a more complex one might be an ability to customise their meal plans on 12WBT.
Each feature takes planning and effort to create. Some of these features need to be in the first release – the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Others can be released once the product is live. We use a Product Road Map approach to mapping out which of these features need to be created when, how they are going to interact or build on each other, and when they’ll be released. Typically we would plan to release new features each week or so.