How to design an on-line product from zero?

I will use my experience of designing the credit card balance transfer product when worked at Lexinfintech to explain my idea of product design at high level.

Duo to NDA reason, not all my work detail can be demonstrated.

For people who do not know, balance transfer is the action that you move debt from one credit card to a different place with a lower interest rate.

The main interface of the Credit Card Balance Transfer Product

Let’s assumed that you already know the demographics of your target users, then the first question which would be faced by every product manger and designer is what can you do to satisfy them? 

To answer this question you need to think about another question which is what the difference between NEEDS and WANTS?

If you’re familiar with the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs then you should get the idea that NEEDS is something that people could not live without and WANTS is something that makes your life a better one. So generally speaking, products you use most frequently on daily basis all in some way satisfy your basic needs such as getting touch with people, keeping updated around the world. 

Back to my case, my target audience is people aged from 18 to 30 who has more than one credit card and loves enjoying a fancy lifestyle even sometime beyond their capability. There is a chart below shows how I analyzed those people’s needs and wants.

Because the resources you can get is always limited so it’s usually rational to build up your product’s first and core feature around satisfying the needs. Therefore the first feature I designed was balance transfer so people who would have problem about repaying their credit card bill would come to us.

Here comes one question, why don’t  those people go to the bank as banks always provide credit card bill installment all the time. The answer is we provide longer installment time and lower interest rates. This answer somehow related to another way of thinking about your product management strategy which is you can provide service that no one has provided before or providing better experience than current service provider.

Whats came next was obvious, more features were added to the product such as credit card bill bookkeeping and due date alarm, all of them were free so we could attract more users even them don’t need balance transfer. Besides, users can also apply our own digital credit card so they could have more credit amount.

At this time you might be wondering about why design and build more features if there is one feature that could attract lots of users already and also you can not make money from. Well, thinking about this question, who would need more money, the rich people or the poor people? Well, let’s think in this way, for relative poor people, they might need money to buy food but for richer people, they might need money to buy luxury cars or fancy house, so even you might not making money for providing those users at this time, but one day they might come to you if you can always satisfy them and for most of time they would provide more margin. It is part of the reason why banks provide much more better service for rich people. Here you can see, somebody’s NEEDS might be other people’s WANTS

Of course there are many other things for a product designer or manager to do during such a process like building operation tools, design users classification system and data collection and analysis tools. However there are more like daily routines so I wouldn’t be covering them. So all this above is a glance of the way how product designer or manager should think in designing product from 0 to 1.

The iteration timeline and the product framework

It is a successful attempt to use this product to attract people has credit card and they soon become our digital credit card users. At average, we had loan about 3 millions dollar a day.