Art and building product

There are many ways to build a product. Many opinions are floating around. Some say go after the market, while others say create your market. Some believe that design thinking helps, while others push you to follow the graph.

What is the right way to build a product?

I tried to explore a little bit, and instead of looking around and asking people, I asked myself what makes a good product?

Be close to the problem, not the solution

Building a product is like painting, you need to be very near to your subject. If you are familiar with the "Working in layers" concept, building a product is almost the same.

These are some common patterns that I see in people who create literally work of art and people who build products.

Yes, I should paint it.

A golden rule for the painting, if you are not feeling it, don't do it. As simple as that.

You get hundreds of ideas every day, how do you know which one is worth trying? You see hundreds of subjects in a day, which one deserves a painting? It's subjective. Do not force your heart to like something.
There is a reason why young students start world-class products when people working in the same domain for years struggle to make a dent. Think hard and long about the problem. Make sure that it is a problem that you want to solve.

Blank canvas

Start with a reference and an empty canvas. The reason why a blank canvas works so well in painting is that you can imagine any picture in it.
Same with the product, start with no dependencies, no legacy. It gives you the freedom to create anything. Think everything in the skeleton.

Layer it out

You need to break the idea into layers. The first layer is a pale colour, a blueprint of sorts, and you sketch the edges and boundaries. This layer is fragile but quick to create. You don't see this layer in the final creation, but without that, a perfect painting cannot exist.
It is like the underpainting for the product. It is not how the product is going to look when it's finished. Layered is often misunderstood with Modularized. Layering is like a timeline where you can't go back. If you do, you have to start from an empty canvas. It is about understanding what the final product needs and working towards it. Modularising is the way of executing this plan.

Blending and cooling

You start adding more shapes and starts refining so that it blends in the canvas. Blending is an essential part of the painting. It would help if you gave the canvas some time to mix the layers. Initially, it will not look good, but as you reach the end, the softness will come out.
In the product development also there should be a cooling period, do the cleanup step back and look at what you already have.

Details and highlight

The final part of it of painting is detailing, paying attention to every single pixel. The tricky part is that one will never know how much is enough.
Every time you add a layer, make sure that it blends into your painting. Also, keep looking at the reference so that you do not deviate from your original idea.
Most of us relate to this. Often when you are on a roll, you keep your head down and want to do everything at once, but when you come out of it, you will realise that it did not look like you had imagined or it is not blending the way you had imagined.


It's a pretty hard process to take an empty canvas and put the right mixture of colour, feel, meaning and beauty to it.
After these repeated process, that night when you sit next to the painting and look at it. You carefully retouch those highlights. When its dawn you think, of all the ways it would have turned out, it finally turned out to be pretty OK.
You sign it and move out to have a cup of coffee, searching for the next subject.

Next time when you are building something cool, imagine a perfect painting.

Featured image © Jess Hurley Scott