Architecting successful digital products




8:30 AM


Salford Quays, Manchester

Building successful digital products with industry leaders

New products have an alarming failure rate of somewhere between 40% and 90% (depending on which source you believe).

There is a wealth of information available about how to build a digital product - but with so many conflicting narratives on the ‘right’ way to build products, it can be hard to know which methodologies and strategies are right for your product, business and end-user.

As a leading digital product creator for some of Europe's biggest brands, we decided to gather a panel of industry leaders from a range of sectors to find out how experts are building products that avoid the ever-growing digital scrapheap.

The below summary gives a snapshot of the views of our digital experts from businesses including Natwest, Domino’s, Yorkshire Building Society and more.



At our breakfast event on Wednesday 8th November, we brought together leading product experts from the following brands:

    Rob Bowley, Pragamatic Partners

    Laurel Agnew, Yorkshire Building Society

    Lynsey Hunt, Natwest

    Nicola Lush, Domino's Pizza

The below summary gives a snapshot of the insights shared by our digital experts from businesses including Natwest, Domino’s Pizza, Yorkshire Building Society and more.

‘You aren’t gonna need it’

With 24 years of tech experience at huge organisations such as Co-op, and smaller scale-ups such as My First Five Years, Strategic Tech advisor Rob Bowely has a keen understanding and passion for the principle of ‘you aren’t gonna need it (YAGNI).

There are common pitfalls for  organisations both big and small when it comes to jumping too quickly into product development. 

The question of whether you really need to build something yet becomes really important.

Project teams can often jump in without a clear focus or idea of what problem the product is going to solve, what the proposition is, who the users are and if they’re willing to pay.

Businesses run the risk of losing money by getting too ahead of themselves.

There are some useful pointers to help avoid these common mistakes, and be more informed when deciding when and what to build:

    Begin with thorough market research, user research and low fidelity prototypes to test your thinking and ideas first

    Define a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) by considering target audience, unique value proposition, core features, user flow and key metrics to success

    Avoid adding unnecessary features and focus on testing your MVP

    Explore ways to validate your idea without building everything from scratch

“The first Airbnb was them renting out air mattresses in their bedroom,” explains Rob. “The financial wellness app Financielle started off by selling templates and PDFs before building a digital product.”

“Fake it till you make it, there are more and more ways to not have to build everything, keep coming back to the questions, do you really need those features?”.

Agile delivery vs agile working

As a Senior Product Manager specialising in mobile first, digital experiences at Yorkshire Building Society, Laurel Agnew has accrued a wealth of experience in being agile. 

So when considering foundational levels of agile, what can we do to create successful products?

Laurel discussed the importance of adopting Agile methodologies in product development. Businesses must become more agile to meet customer expectations and remain competitive, especially in Financial services.

Key insights include:

    Digitisation is crucial for traditional institutions with large legacy systems to stay relevant to customers

    Agility helps businesses seize opportunities and adapt to changing customer needs

    Control over the release process reduces the risk of silos and enhances collaboration between teams

    Roadmap autonomy - if you want to become product led, you want to start showing autonomy, don’t be afraid to demonstrate where you’ve not built the right thing and lean into mistakes

    Agile budgets, tied to investment, improve predictability and shareholder confidence and allows everyone to be closer to the conversation

    Having buy-in from the top of on these principles are key, and you can lead by example for the rest of your business with the aim to gain wider buy-in

Digital transformation is an ongoing journey, and organisations such as Yorkshire Building Society do need to adapt continuously to keep pace with the rapidly changing digital landscape.

Setting success criteria for pilots 

Lynsey Hunt, Head of Payit Product at Natwest, has 10 years experience in delivering new digital product initiatives, and 19 years experience in the Financial Services sector. 

Lynsey shared her experience of testing a new digital journey aimed at replacing traditional paper checks, now known as the ‘Payit’ product, emphasising the importance of validating new product ideas before jumping in.

Natwest knew that testing its new product would be crucial to see if Payit would be commercially viable, desirable for users and technically feasible. 

Testing the Payit product involved rolling it out across 5 brands with 6 sets hypotheses to test against. The team agreed on metrics of success, not just for themselves but also with customers; gathering feedback from customers via interviews was crucial in order to assess this. 

The tests found both success and failure, both of which are ok. While the product massively reduced process times and plenty of customers keen to opt-in, there was still some drop-off from other customers. However, being able to see exactly where customers were dropping off in their journey allowed the Payit team to take learnings forward to make product improvements.

Top tips for successfully testing a pilot include:

    Setting clear success metrics for testing

    Gathering feedback from customers, conducting interviews, and using analytics is crucial

    Compare new processes with old ones to show the difference and impact, prove the benefits of moving to new processes

    Keep aiming for continuous improvement based on real customer feedback

    Discuss exit strategy with participating customers, not everything is going to work so you have to prepare to fail 

This approach showcases how testing pilots can lead to successful digital products by fine-tuning features and processes based on real user data.

Designing for App and Web

Nicola heads up the UX team as UX Manager for Domino's Pizza UK and Ireland. With over 10 years of experience in B2B and B2C, she specialises in combining the business needs, tech constraints and needs of the user to develop the most effective solution possible.

Nicola joined the event to discuss her experience at Domino's and the challenges of reworking the back-end platform of the web and app products at Domino’s to allow for more innovation. 

When it came to delivering on this task, there were quite a lot of ideas, but not long to work on them, and the pressure was on. However, tem team decided to reset, re-align and evaluate what worked with the product they already had, what didn’t work, and what needed to change.

After spending time interviewing customers, the team spent time getting in the proper groundwork and framing, growing the team, doing lots of user testing, bringing in Figma dn working closely with the development team.

Nicola explained, “We made small changes in phases to the website, first just to style and colours to make them more accessible. We started in low risk areas before moving forward to the high risk areas, carefully monitoring that changes weren’t negatively affecting conversions.”

After going on to make more monumental changes to both app and web, it was clear that customers were pleased with the end product, with plenty of 5-star reviews flooding in daily for the app. 

The business have also been pleased with changes such as the implementation of a proper app homepage where Domino’s can promote their tastiest deals and users can easily navigate and order their favourite foods. 

Key learnings from the process include:

    Conduct in-depth customer interviews to understand their needs; find out what would genuinely improve customer experience without complicating the user journey

    Collaborating closely with developers and using tools like Figma for design will accelerate your pace 

    Implement structured design systems like Atomic Design

    Make incremental changes based on a structured plan, starting with low-risk areas

    Everything has to have reason and purpose, go in-depth when explaining what design changes are needed and why

These insights highlight the importance of user-centric design and iterative improvements to achieve a successful digital product.

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Meet the speakers

Rob Bowley | Speaker Image | Architecting event October 2023
Rob Bowley
Strategic Technology Advisor
Ex Head of Digital Tech at Co-op, ex Tech Director at MoneySupermarket
Laurel Agnew
Senior Product Owner at YBS
A digital delivery expert who has lead a range of transformation projects within the tech industry.
Lynsey Hunt
Head of Payit Product, Natwest
Experienced propositions development manager with demonstrable track record in delivering new and successful payment propositions.
Nicola Lush Headshot
Nicola Lush
UX Manager, Domino's Pizza UK and Ireland
UX leader with a passion for creating meaningful and relevant experiences for users and defining process for the UX teams responsible for delivering them.
Gary Butcher Headshot | 128:128
Gary Butcher
Chief Technology Officer
Leads engineering teams working on Domino's, NHS & more

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