There are two ways to build a product.
First is to learn new things and then move towards building something.
This is what mostly beginners do.
Second is to have a fixed idea on what you want to build, and then start working on it to make it a reality. This is what mostly experienced people do.
The first approach is suitable for the beginner stage, as we are just figuring out the ins and outs of the new technology.
The second approach is more suitable for the advanced stage, as we have already figured out the technology and its capabilities, and are ready to build something valuable.
When we are starting out as developers and designers, we have this tendency to make something initially, that would just do the bare minimum. We think we cannot compete with the experts, and so we don't even approach our product like experts do.
But, I think, we can apply the second approach towards making a great product even when we are beginners.
Figuring out the complete product in your mind, even before you start working on it, is what we commonly refer as having a vision for your product.
Why you must have this vision?
The first and the most important reason of building your products with a vision is that, it helps you make a great quality product, which also provides value to the user.
Think about it. It isn't necessary to make a crappy product as your first one. Even if its simple and basic in nature, you can make it stand out from other products, just by keeping the right vision in your mind.
If you know what you are going to build, then learning something becomes more interesting, and when you don't know this, then learning becomes a bit boring and takes more time.
A little background...
I know this from my own experience. I completed reading a programming book for making iPhone apps. Yet, when I started building my own app, I had to learn again as most of the things that I read weren't always applicable.
Also, I faced unique problems sometimes. Even those books couldn't answer those queries, and I had to figure out plenty of things by myself.
Why this happened? It happened because iOS(and even android) contains a huge library and reading and learning everything on your own, before making anything, is a waste of time.
You will never need all the classes and frameworks of a language. There is too much content out there. You have to work smart and figure out what things you need to learn and what you don't need to learn.
The best way is to get the basics as soon as you can. Once you get the basics right, then the rest can be done as you go on building your product.
I think I can say the same about graphic designing. You can't afford to learn every feature of photoshop/gimp. New features keep on getting added regularly. So its better to start making something with the basic knowledge and learn as you go.
...Back to where we left
So what's the point in mentioning all this. The point is to make you understand the critical role 'building a product with vision' plays. If I had the complete vision for my first product at the start itself, I knew what I would have needed and spent time only on learning those concepts.
Sure, knowledge never goes waste and comes in handy at unexpected times. Still, we as developers, designers and product makers can't afford to spend our precious time in gathering all the knowledge of the world.
The simple and good solution would be to:
Have a vision for your product -> Get the basics right -> Start building it -> Learn as you go -> Get feedback and keep on improvising -> Ship it.
Other benefit of having a vision is, even if you don't build your product and continue with your learning process, you will come across certain features and concepts that you can relate with your product and how they can help you in solving some specific problems.
Working with this approach you will realize that it has several benefits:
- It saves your precious time.
- It makes you use your mind optimally by focusing only on useful stuff, and leaving the clutter aside.
- It gives you confidence and makes you think like the experts.
- It gives you a real valuable experience of building something.
- It prepares you for your future projects.
It's this clarity of vision and purpose that will gain you expertise, and motivate you to create really great products on a daily basis.
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