Book Review: Make Products that Matter

Book cover Make Products That Matter.

Make Products That Matter is a comprehensive and practical guide to taking a product or service from idea to launch and beyond, with a focus on understanding customer and user needs.

If you’re just starting out, it will give you an overview of everything you’ll need to know about what research can do and how to do it. For those who currently work in the field, it will consolidate your understanding and take it to the next level. If you’re curious about how research works, or need evidence to justify the value of research - you’ll find all the answers in this book. 

About the author

Dr Chloe Sharp is a seasoned expert in product, user and market research. She is an accomplished innovation consultant with experience of working with charities, start-ups, scale-ups and SME’s transforming their concepts into tangible realities. Her motivation for writing the book was to give an overview of research in product development and how to innovate to improve existing products and services. She describes it as

...a book I wish I had about 10 years ago

Essentially, Dr Sharp has gathered together everything she has learned and presented it in an easy-to-digest informative guide and practical handbook. 

About the book

Make Products That Matter  outlines a logical, step by step process, starting with understanding innovation and progressing through analysing the market, planning research, developing prototypes and MVPs, creating and launching the final product and gathering continuous user feedback. At each stage, different theories and frameworks are explored, with references to case studies and research that illustrate when and where they should be used. Tools like the Research Picker, which outlines the pros and cons of using different research methods to achieve particular goals, help to distil the sometimes complex information into a more accessible format. 

Throughout the book, a simple but effective example - the lemonade van - illustrates how to apply methods and tools in an practical, understandable scenario.

This book doesn't focus on one approach - at each stage of the product development process a wide range of tools, processes and methods that could be useful in different situations are explored. Key frameworks such as Design Thinking and Lean Startup are described in detail, along with simpler exercises such as assumption mapping, with effective visual examples given to illustrate how they are used. 

This book doesn't provide quick answers - while it's very well written and highly readable, people who are interested in really digging into the detail of product development will benefit most from it.

For many seasoned product professionals, researchers and designers, this book will represent the first time they've seen the many theories, methods and tools of their trade brought together in such a logical, well-evidenced way.

As such, it acts as a fantastic reference text as well as a resource to draw on when stakeholders or clients require background or justification for a particular approach or methodology. 

It won't be surprising if Dr. Sharp's book becomes the go-to textbook that every researcher, designer and product manager has on their shelf, the one that everyone recommends to product professionals who are serious about developing their knowledge and skills.