Unlocking your software product's full potential often comes down to early user feedback. That's where design partners come in. These are the early users who directly influence your product's development, from specific features to the entire suite. I stumbled upon this concept in an Entre Capital webinar on selling to developers and was reminded of the concept in Liveblocks launch of Yjs so I had to share my thoughts.
Why design partners matter for you SaaS
So why incorporate design partners into your software development process? Three key reasons:
They help fine-tune your problem space and guide you toward the right solutions before you launch.
They often become early paying customers. In high-value cases, nurturing these relationships can directly impact sales.
They serve as early evangelists, building community and credibility around your product, which can pave the way for wider adoption.
Design partnerships for integrations
Let's bring this into focus with a real-world example from a recent plugin we built at Lunch Pail Labs and how we typically apply the process to integrations.
Find candidates: Whether we're planning a deep integration or something lighter, we find design partners in a few ways. They might emerge from support requests or forum discussions about upcoming integrations. This often leads to early conversations and testers.
Gather Feature Requests: Once you have your design partners onboard, collect their specific needs and desired features for the integration.
Help them build + implement: Watching a few users implement the integration can offer critical insights into the ease of implementation and if you offer support to help them get going I find users are often happy to talk.
And that’s a wrap! Design partners are a powerful tool for SaaS businesses, providing early insights and refining your offerings. But remember, they shouldn't be your only source of feedback. Once your product is out there, it's all about iterating based on a mix of inputs to avoid costly mistakes.
Want to dive deeper? Check out these excellent resources:
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Lola is the founder of Lunch Pail Labs and the curator of the Integrations Directory. She enjoys discussing low-code, integrations, and running a solo business. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.