Product design

Change in business strategy through design discovery


We moved the subscription model item from the roadmap to the definition phase.  Design was responsible for shepherding items through this phase and identifying epics.


The roadmap item “subscription model” seemed straight forward, but really it was quite detailed and ambiguous.  Continue to the end and learn how we used design to discover a latent inflection point and make an informed decision to change our business strategy.


  • Sales
  • Development
  • Client services
  • SMEs

Definition synthesis

Following the product roadmap, I was synthesizing to help us define three factors.  One, what our subscription model would look like.  Two, how the organizations might work.  Three, how we might onboard people directly from the website.

Definition synthesis document

Fitting pieces together

There were ideas from sales about how they saw pricing being structured.  I drew explanatory drawings that clearly explained what sales was thinking.  This allowed us to define what the expectations really were for these epics.

Pricing structure ideas visualized, and sample epic

Scenario: User belongs to multiple organizations

It was known that a structure like an organization was needed for a subscription model.  However, we were not exactly sure how it should be defined. Drawings that spawned conversation helped us discover latent use cases and the ambiguity surrounding the idea.

Multiple organization membership exploration

New definition

These types of organizational relationships had not been thought through. The details of this project had expanded beyond the expectation prescribed by the stakeholders.  I kept generating explanatory drawings to help clarify ideas and keep us focused on defining the epics.

Organizational relationships explanatory drawings


During the process I showed people wireframes.  Seeing the use cases in a more literal context inspired pragmatism.  These rough ideations helped stakeholders think through the gaps, and gave us insight into what we did not know.

Ideation wireframes


This definition synthesis enabled us to uncover a latent inflection point.  Here is what it was:  

Our AI was not far enough along to make our microservices truly “self serve”.   This meant that users might join our subscription service, only to be frustrated and have a negative experience.   Meanwhile, we had enterprise clients knocking at our door, and we could easily accommodate their required features.

When we pulled the item from the road map we thought the subscription cogs would fit in place.  After all, the conventional wisdom was that freemium was the way to go.  Turned out that for us staying in enterprise a little longer was better.  It gave us time to get our recommender system up and running so we could actually serve the subscription customers.  Plus it generated the cash flow to refine the remaining baseline MVP items that would keep us competitive.

And there you have it – we changed our business strategy based on what we discovered through design.