While working on either developing or enhancing digital products, I often found myself missing a framework which could systematically guide my thought process in what to build. It’s a feeling that’s privately admitted to by people across the industry, from Project Managers, UX Designers and producers to even clients themselves.
In our standard way of working, with companies and their agency teams planning product experience along with technology executions, we often plan initiatives any number of ways that incorporate a process loop of Discover, Learn, Ideate, Incubate, Accelerate, & Evaluate. Though these steps help product teams focus on the process of delivery, it often does not clearly state a process to reach product experience maturity or in other words taking the goals of making products relevant, feasible and desirable from abstract wishful outcomes.
What would such a process or a framework look like? I sought out answering this when I thought of building one for myself. Aggregating the needs of the impacts that modern products need to make in the market, re-thinking the product engineering lifecycle into an outcome, pulling in whatever I could learn from all of the guiding content out there, which was simple enough for me to adapt and explain to others.
This is how I landed on the Address-Delight-Surprise Maturity Curve or the ADS Framework for short.
This is how the framework works
Stage 1: Address — Must-have foundations
The Address spectrum aims to provide clarity on what are the must-haves of products. Besides arriving at features and functionalities often present in an MVP, address looks at the capabilities of your product launch in terms of marketplace impact, competitive advantage and response. We not only look to map what similar products in the market offer today but how competing products will likely react to these new features and plan a road map of enhancements to maintain a competitive edge.
An example of this is Uber, the unicorn personal ride sharing application, the Address spectrum represents key features such as scheduling a ride from the app for a particular travel time in the near future. Uber likely arrived at this feature through competitive pressures that the initial innovation of the app had disrupting the existing taxi markets as well as competing ride share services entering the market.
Stage 2: Delight — Planning Uniqueness
The Delight spectrum is where products separate themselves from the marketplace by executing against a road map to enrich the existing product foundation with unique ways of delivering similar features to further connect app interactions into a fluid experience which exist across the products. The emphasis here is on how we can leverage the emerging technology to our advantage to build on the user experience and help create deeper brand connections.
Going back to our Uber example, the company’s product leveraged existing mapping and location technologies into a shared driver/rider experience in a map view of the available drivers near riders in real-time. This delight helped reduce the fear of being picked up with strangers by bringing a transparent and interactive feature set to the product (which assuaged the initial fear that early investors had.) As this feature set evolved with the app, Uber helped build assurances for its users by providing a new dimension to how they see the ride availability, travel time/distance, sharing itineraries, chat and pick up time. Uber planned these delight features based on feedback from the market/regulatory forces, technology capabilities, customer feedback/behaviors and data analysis of trends.
State 3: Surprise — Enriching Experiences
The Surprise spectrum is that rare space where product marketers, owners and companies plan the entire ecosystem of business, products/services, business growth and continuous innovation to maintain and grow their market share. Companies at this level plan a rich road map of features that would not only push the market category into new thinking on things like leveraging emerging technologies but look to truly transform the way their business functions to take advantage of new models of engagement and growth from an entire suite of digital transformation initiatives that will be needed to achieve it. The result for companies is becoming the defacto market standard, powerful brand equity, industry leadership and a product that is more like a verb – let’s Uber it.
Our example of Uber using the Surprise spectrum of the ADS framework can be described as enabling anyone across the world who had a car to help people get to where they need to go locally, on demand. Beyond changing transportation forever, at the same time, Uber also became the brand of the gig economy helping people earn money, the primary reason for its massive adoption. In total, these force multipliers were planned and built upon the foundations of the ADS framework.
Marlabs and the ADS Framework
We’re very excited to continue exploring both historical case studies of top products in the market as well as speaking with companies about new product innovation scenarios where we can help standardize an ADS framework within their product efforts. We will also explore this evolving model across different kinds of applications (B2B/B2C, AI/ML, Cloud Backend, VR/AR/360°) and different scenarios.
We’d love to see how ADS can be applied to your scenarios and any learning that can help enhance this framework. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Director – Design, Advisory & Consulting, Marlabs LLC
Satyarth Pandey is a Senior Director at Divergence, the Design Advisory & Consulting division at Marlabs. He’s our resident futurist and helps companies re-imagine businesses for successful product launches, adoption and growth.