I’m about to start building a product or service

If you haven’t started building your product or service yet, you’re in the right place! These principles are like a checklist you need to follow to ensure that you’re doing things right.

We’ve picked three principles that are particularly important at this early stage.

Start with your users, and keep them involved. It’s important that you’ve started by researching your users’ needs. That way you can be sure that you fully understand their and their situation before designing your product or service.

Understand what’s out there already. Before you build anything it’s important to look outside your organisation, this means you can avoid duplication, and build on what already exists.

Build the Right team. The right team, with the right mix of technical skills and subject expertise are key to successful delivery.  

Use the checklist below to see how you’re working to each principle.

Your checklist

Start with user needs, and keep them involved
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  • I have researched directly with my user group to understand their needs from their perspective. This means understanding their behaviours, attitudes and needs. For example, I’ve conducted semi-structured interviews with users or undertaken or contextual research
  • I have a plan to continue to engage with my intended service users over time, such as conducting usability studies
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Things you might have:
  • User needs based on user research
  • Personas
  • Jobs to be done
  • A research plan for ongoing usability testing
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Tools you can use:
  • User needs – the Government Digital Service has great guidance on identifying and writing up user needs
  • 1:1 user research interviews – here’s a handy how-to for charities on NCVO
  • Personas – there’s lot of guidance on the web, this is a helpful overview on Personas
  • Jobs-to-be-done – this Harvard Business Review article a is useful introductory article, more practitioner-focused information can be found on these dedicated sites jtbd.info and jobstobedone.org  
  • Usability testing – Nielsen Norman group have many good resources like this introduction, Steve Krugg has published two very helpful introductory books
  • Contextual inquiry, or shadowing – there’s a good introduction here
  • Form software such as Typeform or Google Forms can be helpful for signing up users for research and gathering short bits of information
  • Acumen parted with IDEO.org to produce a free introductory course to human centred design – Acumen / IDEO Human-centred Design Course
Case studies

Youth Business International

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Understand what’s out there first
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  • I have looked both inside and outside of my sector, in the UK and abroad, to identify services that offer something similar to what I’m trying to do and achieve a similar social outcomes
  • I have looked both inside and outside of my sector, in the UK and abroad, to identify services that are using a similar process or technology
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Things you might have:
  • Market scan, competitor analysis or map of other services out there already doing something similar
  • A business canvas showing how your product or service differs from what’s out there
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Tools you can use:
  • Alidade can help you create a plan for finding technology tools that suit your social change project
  • Charity Catalogue helps nonprofits easily and quickly discover the best online tools and resources
  • Nesta’s DIY Toolkit has been designed for development practitioners to invent, adopt or adapt ideas that can deliver better results
  • Squarespace, Tilda and Github pages can be useful for creating simple websites
  • The Lean Canvas and Superhero Canvas can help you map out what’s unique about your service.
  • Tech trust marketplace gives charities tailored access to discounted software
Case studies
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Build the right team
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  • I have dedicated technical resource, whether in-house or through an external agency
  • I have senior management buy-in
  • I have access to expertise in the social area I’m working in
  • I have users represented, either through an ongoing plan for user research, or through their involvement directly in the work
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Things you might have:
  • Contracted teams of staff who are clear on the budget and timescale of their work
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Tools you can use:
Case studies
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Other things you might want to consider:

These items are part of a larger overall Checklist for Charity members. Take a look at the whole collection here:

The Charity Checklist

See the Checklist

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