As part of this publication, I will share my practical experience on how to "fake something until you achieve success" in the field of product creation. I think this means that we are trying to get ahead of ourselves, anticipating how our current situation will develop further. You can, of course, simulate that the project is developing, but in reality this is not noticeable. This approach allowed me to get valuable data to understand what my product is worth. Otherwise, this understanding would not have come.
And it turned out like this.
About three years ago, an employee we worked with earlier gave me an order to produce 1,500 banner advertising materials. After all, our employer has mastered new products that he planned to sell on the markets of other countries. Therefore, it was necessary to promote 6 types of products in 5 colors. Under them, it was necessary to make banner advertising products for three foreign markets. Therefore, it was necessary to develop advertising options for 15 formats for each of the banner ads. It was hell for our graphic designers. And I was supposed to be in charge of everything in this hell.
And when I realized that our Department should create fifteen hundred banners for advertising, I almost burst into tears. Moreover, we had a real prospect of doing this on a monthly basis. Of course, you could manually draw this bunch of banners. But it would be... banal and primitive solution! I wanted to create, not stamp these banners like a machine.
And then I started searching the Internet for ways to automate the process of drawing these banner sets. I came across various ideas, but they were all banal. They also lacked flexibility.
Therefore, I had to become an innovator in this direction. At first, my attention was drawn to Photoshop and its "actions" function. It is intended for recording all user actions in the program.
Consequently, I now had the ability to record the process of step-by-step manual creation of a single banner. And to create the entire array of banners I need, it would now be enough to record my actions with the first banner. Well, then you just need to repeat them the required number of times. Agree, the method is simple, but effective. And it was designed to speed up the work of our specialists at times.
In addition, a community of graphic designers who have faced similar challenges has come to my attention. Therefore, I and my friend Ivan created a target page in a couple of hours. And another friend - Thomas - made a logo in a few minutes, and then we started pricing. After that, a script was written for which we later recorded a video, and it started…
We posted this material in one of the design groups on Facebook.
And then the events unfolded as follows:
My message is on the Facebook page of a local design group
I was extremely surprised by the number of users who faced the same problems as our company. But I was even more surprised that my scheme was purchased by five users at once, especially considering its decent cost of about 110 euros.
And now, looking back, it was all just... a miracle. But, it opened my eyes to two points:
this problem is close to many;
people are ready to pay money for a hint on how to solve it.
But at that time, I knew absolutely nothing about how to create products, how to sell them, how SaaS (SOFTWARE as a service) and customers behave. I just knew the theory, learned from videos, lectures, and instructions from friends. However, I had no experience in this area at all.
So I started experimenting.
Then I started creating a free version of the Freemium-based ad generator in Photoshop. Only 6 formats of banners could be displayed automatically here. But the paid version of this program allows you to work with 20 formats. And people got this program from me in return for feedback from them.
To tell the truth...
no one purchased the full version of the program after using its demo version.
My idea failed. But I didn't lose my optimism, wanting to improve the product even more. However, this prompted me to ask users what is more convenient for them to use, and how I can improve it. I even had to fork out 110 euros to purchase a full version of this professional software in exchange for communication with users.
And what did it give me?
Yes, absolutely nothing!
It was a complete failure. I didn't know where to go next.
And at that moment, my hands dropped. I didn't have the tools to create a product, and I didn't have enough experience to write programs from scratch.
Pause for more than a year
After a year and a half, I returned to this idea again. I gained new knowledge about product management, user experience design, and I got close to people who are constantly working on creating products. And now I ventured to try my luck.
The most recent versions of the script did not always correctly display all the banner graphics, showing them selectively. Well, not bad. But, with complex banners, this script did not want to work as it should. But in Photoshop, other functions were created that allowed us to play as we want. According to our rules.
A small technical digression
From a technical point of view, creating a script is the easiest. However, their functions are not always enough. So I wanted to understand what Photoshop can do. And here plugins became a discovery for me. I thought this was what I was looking for. But to write plugins, I needed a front end editor, because I didn't know the code very well.
However, the difficulties were that creating products with the editor turned out to be very expensive. In addition, I had no idea whether people needed what I was going to develop. However, I was sure that I wanted the generation of advertising banners to develop to the highest possible level. I had no idea how to do it.
Take it and do it!
However, it seemed to me that I had a trump card up my sleeve. And this is an Empire of designers. Am I right, bro? Empire?... Yes, the Empire. Let me explain what I mean.
When I need to remove generation, what should I do? I just need to click on the magic button and everything will be deleted. But, will it work as it should? And then it's time to join the game of "design Empire" (in my opinion, it is the set of design tools).
Design Empire - a set of design tools
and then it dawned on me that you can "copy" not only the plugin code itself and the interaction Mechanisms inside it. This was caused by the need to understand whether people still need this decision of mine.
I knew that I had to show the plugin to the design community in order to demonstrate its powerful potential, which will help software creators gain an understanding of what needs to be created.
Therefore, the first thing I did:
I Started creating the main plugin frameworks
Photoshop via Sketch.
The first creation was ketch wireframes of Photoshop plugin Bannerium - a Photoshop plugin designed to generate ads.
Getting ready to create a video
Now I needed to make a duplicate of the algorithm that creates banners. To do this, I made a video with a video broadcast from the display and removed something from it. To be more precise, those moments that required manual editing of components into ready-made banners were removed. As a result, these videos looked like a cool generating algorithm during the demonstration.
And for a snack, the final moment. It was necessary to make a single whole out of these pieces. In this case, I was greatly helped by Adobe After Effects.
And here is my final video, the creation of which cost me two weeks of personal time:
When we watched this video with our friends, they decided that they had learned the art of coding. And that meant that my actions were correct.
Note: the business that engages you with your head becomes your ideological Empire. And using a specific tool kit, you can show users (in our case, graphic designers) the future prospects, drawing their imagination along with them. And you can also arm yourself with a number of their ideas, implementing these ideas in practice. And then suddenly users begin to realize the purpose of your product and its functionality. Agree, this is a very powerful thing.
As a result, your product should help the user get rid of the problem
Well, after creating the video, I started generating a target page and published the plugin on the walls of local facebook design/marketing groups
a Facebook post containing a fake video clip. He brought us 400 valuable registered users
Further, I provided my message with the address of my target page, distributing it to other forums and communities. This later earned me 400 subscribers.
We even had an agreement with one of the design agencies that promised to Finance the creation of this plugin. And we even met with its representatives twice. And just one video was enough for this.
In the end, this deal failed miserably. And this would be a natural result. There were several reasons for this. In truth, the video was created relatively recently. And other materials were missing. And there was only a set of different components planted on tape. But, at that time, I didn't even realize how far I was from the correct code.
Demonstrating a fake video clip is a great tool for sharing experience and checking solutions in order to choose the right one. At the same time, users will take an extremely ambitious video material at face value and will expect something Grand from you. But if your actual product is worse than promised, people will be dissatisfied after trying it, because the product is not functional. I stepped on this rake in the process of dialogue with users during the beta test period. They suggested that the functionality of the full version of the product would match the one shown in my video. Therefore, always try to really evaluate your capabilities. Otherwise, you will just make an army of enemies, in the face of disappointed users. However, there is always room for compromise. Therefore, it is definitely worth trying your luck.
From the moment I realized that there was still a demand for the product, I found a programmer, with whom we continued working on the plugin. And the video was a good tool for communicating my ideas and goals. Naturally, this video did not promise everything at once. Therefore, I had to think through options for the development of the situation like "what if suddenly...". However, this time my expectations were fulfilled.
After that, we started beta testing, which involved 50 users. And today our product is fully functional.
A set of design tools is a powerful Empire that allows you to easily create a unique product for the market, materializing your ideas. And it will take less than a week.
Video generation is a powerful tool, but you need to be careful with your ambitions so as not to discourage the first gullible users. Look for compromise solutions. After all, there will always be users who need this product, but doubt its functionality or performance. Well, make them beta testers. You may find them useful over time.
Well, having this experience, now I will use the imaginary product demonstration a little more carefully. After all, I still believe that this approach will save you a lot of money and time, help you believe in the benefits of your idea and gain strength to implement it.
I would like this example of mine to encourage designers to believe in themselves. And to all people who are far from design, what benefits they will get from working with designers.
If you are interested in my ideas for creating products from the point of view of a professional designer, and you want to follow their development, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.