Feature Canvas

A tool that helps you to start working on a feature or idea keeping in mind users, problems and context.

Available in English, Русский.

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Why use Feature Canvas

problems area

Very often when we get a description of a new feature (or a new idea about how to improve our product comes to our mind), we start working on a concrete solution. Or even start polishing small details of this solution. In other words, we jump fast from so-called “problems area” to “solutions area”. 

Yes, we can understand the initial user problem, which should be solved by the new feature. But all problems have their root causes (and that is what sometimes missed). It’s also important to think about the context of usage because it can create new (even smaller) problems. And of course, we must think about the real value proposition which we are going to deliver to our users. Altogether, there are quite a few things that we forget about. 

This tool can help you to:
  • spend more time in “problems area” before you start building a solution;
  • keep in mind your users while analyzing incoming ideas; 
  • throw away ideas inappropriate at the moment;
  • put all your teammates on the same page about the feature, problems and other important things from “problems area”
  • understand blind spots in your knowledge about the users 

Who can use it

Product managers

product managers
  • Filter incoming features/ideas through “problems” lenses and throw away inappropriate at the moment
  • Put all your teammates on the same page about why and for whom you are building new feature
  • Don’t forget to plan additional feature launch activities

Facilitators

facilitators
  • Use for kick-off meetings: pitching and feature initiation
  • Involve team in brainstorming sessions and keep focus on important areas
  • Use for backlog grooming and planning sessions

UX/UI designers

ux designers
  • Design solutions keeping in mind users, problems and usage context
  • Prepare for user research
  • Use as support for “selling” your design decisions

And you can use Feature Canvas even in a “wildlife”, i.e. not only for product features but for different “non-digital” ideas.

Basic version

feature canvas basic

Basic version consists of 8 blocks with simple yet powerful questions which can help you to dive into problems area and deeply understand new feature or idea.

Sometimes it can help you to realize that there is no reason to build feature: there are no real problems behind it or customer’s value proposition is not clear. So you can throw away this idea with a clear conscience. Or it can show you some blind spots in understanding of your customers and nudge you to make some research.

Basic version is suitable for almost all types of features/ideas. It can be used during grooming or planning sessions to synchronize the entire team about feature details. Or during different brainstorming sessions to engage all teammates and put everyone on the same page.

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Full version

Full version is like a thoughtful and detailed analysis of idea/feature. It consists of two major blocks: analysis area and planning area (bold vertical line separates them).

“Analysis area” contains all blocks from basic version plus two additional blocks. It helps you to broaden the understanding of your customers and prepare more data for other blocks (planning area).

“Planning area” allows you to think about what might be required for feature implementation. And what we (as a creators/business) want to achieve: what our goals, how can we measure it.

As an outcome full version assumes that there must be a list of key activities, i.e. what should be done to deliver value to customers and business. It can be used as a one-time synchronization tool or it can be maintained in the current state throughout the life cycle of the feature until the moment of implementation (and even after).

About author

Nikita Efimov

Senior Product Manager at UXPressia, a UX coach at training center ITMINE, and an inspiring leader of the UXSPb – community of UX designers, user researchers, and information architects in Saint-Petersburg.
 
Nikita has over 13 years of experience in Software Development area, including positions as a Head of UX and Senior Product Manager. During this time he has worked both at product and outsourcing companies on different projects: from compilers to mobile apps with augmented reality. He has a strong experience in UX, user research and product management. Nikita is also a UX coach for more than 5 years.
 
He is an experienced speaker and organizer of several conferences in Russia, including World Usability Day, World Information Architecture Day, ProfsoUX, and SECR.

If you have any questions, ideas, suggestions or ‘yes-buts’, I’d love to hear from you any feedback.

Feature Canvas is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. You are free to use it at a workshop in your company or in your course you are teaching, even if you are charging money for it.