Designing a Product for Market

MVP > Beta > Pilot > ?

Yesterday was a very exciting day for the MOTI team: we launched our Pilot Program, and just within an hour of announcing the news, we were almost sold out of our preorder inventory. It felt almost surreal—launching a Pilot at this time had been on the roadmap for months, and we managed to make it happen despite the million+1 things that seem to be working against you when you're trying to get a hardware startup off the ground. 

So, after being hyper-focused on all the launch action yesterday, we're realizing that...

Great Scott! It's October 21, 2015. How did we even get here? Not in the DeLorean, unfortunately—but it was still quite a journey. As a team with a strong human-centered design background, good design and respect for the design process is deeply ingrained in MOTI's DNA. But design doesn't exist in a vacuum, and creating a product for market exposed us to a lot of challenges and learnings that we'd like to share with you.

How We Got to MOTI Pilot v.P1

A behind the scenes look of how the MOTI team created the Beta v1. The MOTI pilot (v.P1) process will be even more nuanced.

Form follows function. It's important to embark on the design process without expectations of what the final product will look like; instead, focus on how the product needs to function—what user-product interactions need to be in place—in order for the product to be useful and effective. Our MVP0.0 was a squishy desk toy hacked onto a box containing electronics, and it gave us base-level insights into the future of MOTI even though it didn't look great.

Listen to users. Once we determined MOTI's main functionalities, it was then time to figure out how to package them. To do this, we went directly to our potential customers. After brainstorming, sketching, and modeling every single idea that came to mind, we had users give us their gut reactions on the forms they liked best. Even though our designs were informed by research in social robotics and behavioral science, it was important to learn from consumers. In fact, user research is the most powerful tool in designing a product for market.

Make it. Now, make it again. When our team moved cross-country to Highway1, we walked in with three prototype forms, feeling pretty confident that we had already tested them for product-market fit through our Beta. But we soon realized that the design process was just beginning. Today, our desk is overrun with a MOTI prototype army (see gallery above)! Although one form had emerged as the top contender for our final product, it was time to deep dive into the nuances that differentiate a good product from a great one.

Always challenge your gut. We were lucky to have had a very engaged Beta group who offered us amazing feedback and helped us pinpoint the aspects of our product that we had to improve. We immediately applied these learnings to develop our next storm of prototypes, and even when we felt we had MOTI v.P1—we challenged our assumptions. Again, we turned to user research, establishing MOTI Labs to give our community the opportunity to partake in our R+D process. We tested everything from the curvature of MOTI's face to its weight, height, size, color and one of its most important features: actuating the habit celebration.

Launch. Design is never over. There are always more details you can obsesses over, but the time put into perfecting the product is only worth it if you're learning something new with each iteration. You'll never know if that one mm difference in size actually matters until you put the product out into the world ask people to buy it. Although we are producing our pilot units as though they are a final product, we understand that there is a challenging road ahead of us to prepare MOTI for retail. Keep a look out for our next blog post on what it truly takes to go from pilot to launch. 

Thanks for reading -- we're glad you're on this journey with us! And if you want a MOTI of your own, click here before they run out.