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Where should you invest: fidelity, experimentation or case coverage?
Know the trade offs when allocating your chips
When building and designing a feature in a solution space, there are three vectors a PM needs to care, but you only have a limited amount of chips to invest in either of them.
Here are the three vectors:
📱 Fidelity: how much you invest in polishing the designs of your ideas
👨🔬 Experiments: how many different approaches you’ll try within the solution space
🔬 Case coverage: how deep you go at covering edge cases and special flows
Your time and resources define how many chips you have. A large team might invest more in each or even cover all three. A smaller team will need to sacrifice some or thread lightly across each one.
Putting all your chips in 📱fidelity means you have a highly polished single happy path. It looks beautiful, but did you experiment enough? Are you covering enough edge cases to not lose your users?
Putting all your chips on 👨🔬experiments means means multiple unpolished approaches at delivering a happy path. A lot of ideas, but what if a users falls into an edge case? And is it clear enough for a production implementation ?
Putting all your chips in 🔬case coverage means going over all edge cases, but with an unpolished, single experiment. Is this really the best path? And can the team bring this to production?
Each option has its trade-offs, as you can see. Balancing where you invest is the only way.
Here’s my recommendation:
1. Early stage products should experiment more, and focus less on covering cases (optimize for happy path). You don’t know what will get you to PMF so experimentation is the way.
2. As you grow into later stages, start allocating chips to higher fidelity (larger team have a tough time communicating, so make the prototypes talk) and more case coverage (more customers mean it’s more likely they fall in the gaps). Experiments still matter but it’s likely that your happy path, components and overall design architecture is in place.