In this ProductTank Heidelberg talk, Konstantin Diener, CTO and Co-founder at product design consultancy Cosee, delves into continuous discovery by sharing his experiences of designing a platform for board and card game trade fair Spiel Digital when in 2020 it needed to shift from an in-person to a digital event.
Watch the video to see his talk in full, or read on for an overview of the key points:
- The challenges when Spiel shifted from in-person to digital
- Understanding what the product should be
- Building the product using continuous discovery
2020 Spiel digital challenge
Spiel is the world’s biggest board and card game fair, taking place in Germany every October. It typically hosts about 200,000 visitors over four days. Konstantin’s co-founder is a massive fan of the fair. He attends every year, and in early 2020 he listened to a podcast and heard that because an in-person event was not possible, Spiel’s management was instead considering a virtual event
Konstantin and his co-founder then won the business to build a virtual board games fair for Spiel, and with it came the challenge of creating a compelling digital atmosphere for people who love playing board games in person. But the most challenging part of the project was to create it all in just four months.
The platform’s development would include discovery – deciding what to build – and delivery – building it right.
What is the product all about?
The first stage of developing the product was to decide what it was all about, and what its success factors would be. What would make a digital fair for board games successful? Taking their cues from Marty Cagan’s work, Konstantin and his team tried to align the product to four risks:
- Value risk (will customers buy or use it?)
- Usability risk (can users figure out how to do it?)
- Feasibility risk (can the team build it in the limited time, tech, and skills?)
- Business viability risk (will the product work for the business?)
They also had to categorize the audience and design the event accordingly so that all of the audience – gamers, exhibitors, families, media partners, authors, illustrators – could benefit from the product.
Konstantin says that the hardest thing when working on a product vision with clients is getting them to work in problem mode rather than solution mode.
The continuous discovery process
Konstantin then runs through the product’s development and outlines some of the frameworks and references his team used to help with this process. He also explains the responsibilities of the different members of the team.
He says that for him, continuous discovery is like the early days of railroad construction in the United States. He says: “The expedition team figures out where the tracks should be and where there have to be tunnels and bridges. But they are only 200m away from the people actually laying the tracks.”
Goal-oriented milestones were capability-based and looked at what customers, exhibitors and visitors needed to be able to do by a given point in time. For example, product development started in June so by August exhibitors should be able to populate their booths. The team used feature kick-offs to spread the word with the client and got early feedback in order to tackle all the risks in good time. The community provided valuable and motivating feedback, Konstantin says.
The virtual fair attracted about 150,000 visitors over the four days that it ran, Konstantin says, and delivered a board-game-like user experience with topic-based interactive virtual exhibition halls.
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