How to Avoid Building a Wrong Product: Essential Tips for Product Managers

Product-led growth
March 15, 2023
7 mins read

A “wrong” product is one that fails to meet its intended users' needs and achieve predefined business goals. Product teams sometimes build faulty products due to reasons such as:

  1. Lack of user research: This leads to an incomplete understanding of your user’s needs which results in an undesirable product. For example, the Microsoft Zune MP3 player failed to gain traction because it lacked the features that iPod users desired, such as a large selection of songs and easy syncing with iTunes.
  2. Poor understanding of market trends: Teams may also build the wrong product if they fail to keep up with changing market trends and technologies. For example, Kodak failed to recognize the growing trend of digital photography and continued to focus on its traditional film business, leading to its decline and eventual bankruptcy.
  3. Internal biases and assumptions: Sometimes, teams may be influenced by their own biases and assumptions, leading them to build a product that they think is great but may not resonate with their target audience. For example, Google launched Google Wave, a collaboration tool that was highly praised by their internal team but failed to gain traction with users due to its complexity and unclear value proposition.
  4. Absence of clear product vision: Teams need to have a simple and clear vision for the product to build something that their users need. For example, Google+ lacked a clear vision as a social media network, unlike its competitors which made it challenging for its team to deliver value to its users.

In this article, we share six tips that will help you avoid the above mistakes and build a product that meets your users’ expectations.

Let’s start by understanding the cost of building the wrong product.

The opportunity cost of building a wrong product

The simple answer to building a wrong product is “a lot of money”. However, as a brand and a product team, it is more than that. There are three crucial aspects in which you get incur the cost of building the wrong product:

1. Reduction of brand value

Brand value is both qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative brand value refers to the trust and assurance associated with your brand’s name and quantitative brand value is the monetary worth of your company. Building a wrong product affects both.

For example, the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which had a battery issue that caused fires and explosions, damaged the company's brand reputation, and resulted in a significant financial loss.

2. Decrease in user satisfaction

This can result in negative reviews, reduced future sales, and loss of brand loyalty. Furthermore, your frustrated users will take their business to your competitors which will make it even more challenging for you to re-establish your authority.

For example, the launch of the Apple Maps app in 2012, which was riddled with bugs and inaccuracies, led to a decrease in user satisfaction and caused users to switch to Google Maps.

Events like this have the maximum impact on your revenue potential as shown in the following illustration:

Lost revenue potential when you build the wrong product

3. Loss of resources

Teams spend months or even years building a functioning product. Building an incorrect one, therefore, means a lot of wasted time, effort, and opportunities.

For example, the development of the Google Glass wearable technology, which had limited functionality and was priced at $1,500, resulted in a significant loss of resources for the company when it failed to gain widespread adoption.

It is important for teams to remain proactive throughout the product management process to make sure they are moving in the right direction to build a useful product. Let’s look at how you can do that.

How to avoid building the wrong product

Although a lot of companies have survived after building the wrong products, it is always better to avoid that mistake. Based on the underlying reasons why wrong products are built, we have shared six tips you can use to build a product your users like.

1. Prepare a framework to measure your product’s success

As we have explained earlier, wrong products are unsuccessful and fortunately, you can measure a product’s success both quantitatively and qualitatively. Collaborate with your team to identify the metrics or KPIs that reflect the product’s success.

Keep in mind that different products have different success criteria. For example, if the goal of a new social media platform is to increase user engagement, metrics such as daily active users and time spent on the platform could be used to measure success.

The next step after identifying your product’s tangible goals is to track those metrics through dashboards. simplifies this by bringing you product performance metrics from various sources such as Data Studio and Mixpanel.

Integrate analytic tools in Zeda

2. Know your ICP (ideal customer profile)

Ideal customer profiles are quantitative representations of the person who will benefit the most from your product and brand. These are the customers which are easiest to acquire and are least likely to churn. ICPs are crucial for market segmentation.

They are different from user personas because user personas contain individual qualities such as expectations, psychographics, and personal preferences.

Start by filling out the key components of an ICP such as industry, department, and job titles through customer research. This will help you build a product with the highest chance of success as the users “exist” and are easily identifiable.

3. Validate ideas

Every product starts off as an idea and a few hypotheses. These are your assumptions about your users’ pain points and expectations which you must validate before building anything. This will allow you to conceptualize a better product, and more importantly, save your resources.

Consider building minimum viable products (MVPs) to test your hypotheses with your audience, gather feedback, and keep iterating them until you have something that delights your users.

Product teams can use to sketch user flows and create wireframes to communicate their ideas effectively with users and stakeholders.

Creating userflow in Zeda
Creating wireframes in Zeda

4. Always trust the data

We mentioned earlier how costly building products can get when acting upon personal bias and “gut instincts”. Even when you or one of your team members have a feeling about something, validate it with data before building it. 

For example, if you think a new feature will be loved by your audience, conduct a poll/survey to get their feedback before modifying the product. Also run A/B tests, or as we mentioned earlier, track your product’s performance closely.

5. Be quick and accurate

Your users’ requirements and the market trends always evolve which requires you to act immediately to keep your product useful. Upgrading your product quickly allows you to retain your existing users while continuing to onboard new ones.

For example, Instagram launched its Stories feature in 2016 to compete with Snapchat. This allowed Instagram to remain relevant and competitive in the social media market amid growing competition.

While upgrading your product, it is crucial to prioritize initiatives based on their value. In the previous example, Instagram would have probably lost market share if they had not prioritized the Stories feature’s development at the time.

Similarly, you must adopt a quantitative approach, like the Cost of Delay framework, to rank your initiatives accurately as shown in the illustration below:

Cost of Delay prioritization framework explanation by Zeda

6. Remain clear on the mission and vision

Your mission and vision are the impacts you wish to have on the industry you are in and on the lives of your users. Focusing on the mission and vision is pivotal in aligning workflows across the team and keeping the product valuable.

The first step to do this is to define your mission and vision simply and clearly. Next, you need to translate what it means in terms of product and business performance. Finally, it is also crucial to revisit them regularly and update them when needed.

Summing up

A wrong product is something that doesn’t solve any problems of your user and incurs a lot of loss. Teams sometimes build these when they don’t understand their users’ needs, market trends, their own biases, and the product’s vision.

Building the wrong product leads to a damaged brand reputation, decreased user satisfaction, and loss of resources such as time and effort. In certain cases, this can lead to the eventual bankruptcy of the company.

Avoid building the wrong product by keeping the following tips in mind:

  1. Identify and track KPIs that reflect your product’s success
  2. Create ideal customer profiles (ICPs) to increase your chances of success
  3. Validate your ideas and hypothesis through MVPs, prototypes, and wireframes
  4. Determine initiatives based on user and market data rather than assumptions
  5. Remain proactive and make changes as soon as possible to minimize loss
  6. Keep the product’s mission and vision fresh by updating it as needed

Putting the above points into practice can be challenging for product teams as it involves jumping between multiple tools to track user data, follow market trends, and collaborate with stakeholders. allows product teams to have complete visibility on customer feedback, prioritize problems, choose the best solutions, define PRDs, manage tasks, publish release notes, and keep all stakeholders updated at every step of the product management process. 

You can use’s native functionalities or bring your current tech stack here through integrations

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What is a wrong product?

A “wrong” product is one that doesn't meet the market's needs, doesn't solve the intended problem, or doesn't provide value to its customers.

What is a bad product design?

A bad product design is one that lacks usability, aesthetics or functionality, resulting in poor user experience and low adoption.

What are some examples of bad products?

Examples of bad products include Google Glass, New Coke, and Amazon Fire Phone, which failed to gain market acceptance due to poor design, usability, and/or customer value proposition.

Why do product teams build wrong products?

Product teams build wrong products due to various reasons, including lack of customer insights, poor product strategy, insufficient testing, and unrealistic expectations or assumptions about the market and the product.

Athira V S
Content Writer
​​As a lover of words and a teller of tales, I use my writing skills to create content that engages, entertains, and enlightens business enthusiasts far and wide.
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