Question: What do Airbnb, Snapchat, and Uber all have in common (besides multibillion-dollar valuations)?
Answer: None of these startups directly create the value that end users consume. They facilitate the exchange of value between users.
Uber does not own or operate any of the cabs its riders use, but it has a valuation of more than $50B. Pinterest does not post any of the “Pins” that refer 23 percent of all traffic to e-commerce sites. Vine does not create any videos, yet is the fastest growing app in the world.
This is a colossal shift from traditional business models, where a company creates a product or service and then sells it to its customers.
Some call this the sharing economy or the collaborative economy. Others refer to these businesses as marketplaces or networks. But the overarching term for all of these multisided business models is a platform.
Platform startups have been disrupting entire industries (like Facebook and WhatsApp with communication, Youtube with entertainment, and Uber with transportation) and innovating with the goal to disrupt others (healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, finance and many more).
How does design fit into a multisided business model?
Let’s start with a quick history of “Design Thinking.”
Design Thinking was created to be a step-by-step, user-centered method to creative thinking and innovation. Unlike analytical thinking, which is often associated with “breaking down” ideas, Design Thinking is a creative process based on the “building up” of ideas.
Design Thinking has evolved throughout the years, from Human-Centered Design focusing on customer experience, to Service Design focusing on customer journeys and touch points between a business and its customer.
Depending on who you talk to, Design Thinking generally follows a five-step approach:
This process has worked very well for traditional products and services. However, designing a business that will succeed in this new economy requires us to take Design Thinking one step further. We call this Platform Design.
Platform Design isn’t about making it look pretty. It’s about nailing the experience of user-to-user interactions and making the exchange of value really, really efficient.
Your Platform Outline
Exchange Driven Design is the next step after Platform Design and Platform Branding.
In Platform Design, we defined your platform’s core interaction and business model.
In Platform Branding, we developed a brand for your platform.
In Exchange Driven Design, we start building the technology products your business needs. Our product managers identify which technologies our engineers should use to bring your product to life. What are the technology building blocks for signup, payments, data, security, etc? These product decisions must be well-thought out and architected before an engineer starts coding to ensure resources are deployed efficiently.
Creating compelling UX experiences
Our UI/ UX designers design your app. Which screens are essential for the MVP and which ones aren’t? What is the best screenflow to keep producers and consumers coming back? How will we delight your users? These are all questions we tackle during Exchange Driven Design.
Once we complete Exchange Driven Design, our engineers have everything they need to start coding.