Designing & Building Data Products – Best Practices

designing and building data products - best practices

For those in the analytics industry, designing and building data products is a critical part of the job. It’s important to understand how to design and build data products that are useful, efficient, effective and loved by the end customers. In this blog post, we will discuss some best practices for designing and developing innovative data products. It’s important to keep these best practices in mind when developing data products / solutions as they can help ensure your product is successful.

Call out Decision – Action – Outcome Hypothesis

It is important to call out decision-action-outcome hypotheses when building data products because it serves as a blueprint for designing, testing and adjusting the product. By clearly defining decisions, actions and outcomes, data analytics staff members and product teams are able to better plan and execute their strategy.

Decision-action-outcome hypotheses provide a common language that can be used to communicate with stakeholders from different areas. Having well defined decision points helps engineering & product teams identify remain focused on developing analytical solutions which result in measurable business impact / outcome. It also helps in identifying data sources and designing most appropriate analytical solutions including dashboards, advanced analytical solutions such as AI / machine learning, etc. The question that needs to be asked before starting on data product are some of the following:

  • What decisions are being validated / tracked / taken based on insights provided by data products?
  • What actions are followed up with these decisions? How are the actions performance tracked and reported?
  • What output and outcomes result from decision – actions? How are they measured?

Defining decision-action-outcome hypothesis prior to beginning work on any data product is an essential part of staying organized and ensuring successful deliveries on schedule. This framework helps streamline communication between stakeholders while providing transparent objectives and goals that everyone involved in the project can understand clearly. 

Learn from End Users

When building a data product, it is essential to learn from end users what worked for them in order to create an effective solution. End users can provide valuable information about the problems they face and the solutions they have employed. By understanding the nuances of their challenges, one can gain a greater insight into the key components of a successful data product.

Gathering feedback from end users should involve obtaining feedback on both existing products and potential solutions. This enables data analytics & product team to gain an in-depth understanding of how users interact with products and what features are most important to them. It also allows development team to quickly identify problem areas and develop solutions that meet user needs. Additionally, by collecting feedback on proposed features or designs, data analytics team can get an idea of how well their ideas will be received before launching them.

It is also important to involve end users in the design process in order to ensure that their preferences are taken into account when creating new data products or services. By involving end users early in the process, changes or improvements can be made as needed before releasing an iteration of the product. This gives end users a sense of ownership over the product and encourages them to participate more actively in its development.

Finally, it’s critical for analytics team to listen closely to customer feedback so that they can further understand user needs and tailor their data products accordingly. By implementing customer suggestions, companies can maximize user engagement which leads to greater success with their data products. Developers should also closely monitor usage patterns so that they can identify areas where improvements could be made. Asking questions is another great way for analytics team to get full insights into why customers use certain features more than others and what could be done differently in order make products even better.

Start with POV – Follow up with POC – Scale up later

Working on proof-of-value (POV) and proof-of-concept (POC) is essential for building successful data products. Starting with POV and follow up with POCs are two closely related concepts which need to be understood well for several reasons.

Firstly, working on a POV provides evidence that the data product is viable and can be used to solve a problem in real life. This allows developers to test out their ideas early on and make adjustments as needed prior to investing more resources into the project. A well crafted POV also serves as a good starting point for creating a POC, which allows developers to gain further insights into the underlying data, technology, and processes associated with the product.

Secondly, working on both POV and POC help developers determine whether they have all of the necessary components required to build a successful product or if there are any gaps that need to be filled before it can be released. By understanding what technologies are necessary, which data needs to be collected, and how processes should be streamlined, developers will be able to make an informed decision about whether it is worth proceeding with development of the product or not.

Finally, by having an effective POV and POC in place it will be easier for stakeholders to understand how the data products works. This includes understanding what value it brings from both technical and business standpoint. It also helps stakeholders decide which features should get priority when developing the product further as this information can then be effectively weighed against potential costs associated with developing certain features versus others.

In conclusion, working on proof-of-value (POV) and proof-of-concept (POC) is essential for any successful data product development process. It ensures that product managers, data scientists, and analytics engineers understand exactly what components are necessary when creating their products, while also providing stakeholders with valuable insights into how the product can add value from both technical and business perspectives. As such, making sure that these two steps are completed prior to proceeding with further development of a data product is absolutely essential for its long term success.

Augment first, Automate later

Human intervention is an important factor to consider when it comes to building data products. It is effective because it allows people to have a better understanding of the data, its meaning and how it can be used for different purposes. Human intervention also provides a deeper insight into problems that may arise during the development process. It helps in refining the product and ensuring accuracy in the data gathered and processed.

The idea is to break the problem into byte-size sub-problems and identify those sub-problems which can be fulfilled using manual interventions. This helps to avoid upfront investment and time in building technical solutions. It also helps in quickly validating the end-to-end solution without much investment upfront.

Human intervention can be used to provide further context and explain what certain tweaks are supposed to do, allowing for more accurate results. Furthermore, it enables businesses and organizations to better understand how their data is being collected, stored, analyzed, and applied. This helps them make decisions based on accurate information and puts them in a better position to build successful products backed by reliable analytics.

Human intervention also offers access to feedback loops which allow companies to respond quickly & effectively when issues arise or feedback needs addressed in order to ensure customer satisfaction. Data experts can spot potential issues early on in the development process before they become large-scale problems, saving time & money while providing a high-quality product with minimal risk & effort involved. 

KPIs are a must

Defining KPIs is a critical step for building successful data products. Knowing exactly what success looks like from a business perspective helps inform product design and development, as well as provide context for assessing the potential value of the product.

KPIs, or key performance indicators, help organizations measure progress against specific business objectives by providing quantitative measures of progress. These metrics can be used to quickly assess the effectiveness and impact of different strategies and initiatives and identify areas where improvements are needed. Because they are directly tied to organizational goals, KPIs also provide meaningful feedback on how well the product is performing and how it affects the organization’s overall success.

Leading KPIs are typically measure factors that can influence future results. For example, leading KPIs for a data product might include user sign-ups, feature usage, or customer satisfaction surveys. By proactively measuring these key indicators of success, businesses can fine-tune their product designs and strategies to ensure they’re moving in a direction that is most beneficial to them.

Lagging KPIs are typically retrospective in nature—they measure actual outcomes resulting from decisions made in the past. This could include sales generated through the product or user retention rates over time. Lagging KPIs give an indication of how successful your current strategies have been at achieving desired business objectives so you can adapt accordingly if needed.

Overall, defining both leading and lagging KPIs is essential for building successful data products because it provides organizations with clear insight into what’s working and what’s not while giving them a frame of reference to optimize their products over time. Knowing which metrics matter most helps organizations make informed decisions about their products, focus resources on areas where they will have maximum impact, and ultimately create more valuable solutions that drive real business objectives forward.

Avoid data quality issues

Creating a successful data product is a highly involved process that requires an extensive understanding of user needs, the data’s technical requirements, and the resources needed to manage them. It is essential for organizations looking to build a successful data product to ensure that there are no data quality issues. Data quality is everything when it comes to creating high-performing data products. Data quality issues can lead to erroneous outcomes, incorrect operations, and potentially great financial losses.

At its most basic level, data quality refers to the accuracy and reliability of information used in decision making processes. Issues can arise when the data contains inaccuracies or inconsistencies in terms of content, reliability, accuracy, or completeness. Poorly maintained datasets with errors can cause inaccurate analysis and decisions which could have disastrous consequences for an organization’s operations.

Therefore it is important for organizations building a successful data product to pay attention to its underlying datasets’ integrity and make sure they are free from any errors or inconsistencies. This requires both manual effort as well as automated checks like validating input fields against predetermined formats and flagging inconsistent values out of predefined ranges as well as using automated software programs that systematically scans through databases ensuring consistency and accuracy of datasets across all sources.

Avoid data vomits

The importance of avoiding data vomits when building data products is paramount. Data vomits are a common issue in the world of data science, and they can have a hugely negative impact on the success of a project. When data vomits occur, it means that there is too much information being presented at once and it can be overwhelming for users to sort through. It also makes it more difficult for business decisions to be made based off of the data since all the information cannot be properly digested or processed quickly. When data vomits occur, it can lead to incorrect decisions and missed opportunities that could have been easily spotted if the proper steps had been taken to avoid such a situation in the first place.

In order to effectively use data products, they must be designed with clarity in mind. Clarity involves making sure that information is presented in an organized way that allows users to quickly and easily understand what is being shown and how it applies to their own needs. This means providing only relevant information as well as providing visual cues that help guide users along their journey within the product itself. Proper user experience design should also be employed so that users can more easily navigate and extract meaning from their interactions with the product.

Data vomits should also be avoided when creating models, as this can lead to unreliable results due to overfitting or underfitting of certain datasets or features within them. Overfitting occurs when too much detail is given about certain aspects of a model which result in inaccurate predictions about outcomes; conversely, underfitting occurs when not enough detail is given which results in an inability for models to accurately predict outcomes. Both situations will cause problems for any business using these models as part of their decision-making process and thus should be avoided whenever possible.

Lookout for scaling with other users / user groups

In today’s digital world, it is vitally important to pay attention to how data products can be scaled to wider user groups or audiences. As the world becomes more and more digitally connected, being able to efficiently provide people with access to products and services that utilize data is becoming increasingly important. By using scalability techniques, businesses can ensure that their data-driven products can be accessed by larger groups of people in an effective and efficient way. When the data product is internal to organization, the goal can be to scale the product for users across different departments or business divisions.

Scaling data products for a wider audience involves ensuring that there are multiple ways for end users across different business units to access the product or service. This includes making sure that there are different types of software versions available on various operating systems, such as Mac OSX, Windows and Linux. Additionally, companies should make sure that their data products are available on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, so that users can access them anytime and anywhere.

Another important factor when scaling data products is ensuring that they are accessible by all users regardless of language barriers across different regions. To achieve this companies must consider making sure their software supports a wide range of languages and providing audio support or visual aids for users with disabilities. Additionally, businesses must also ensure their platforms have high security standards so that large numbers of users can trust the platform with sensitive information such as credit card numbers or other confidential details without fear of it being compromised through hacking attempts.

Deploy faster & frequently

Deploying a data product faster and more frequently is incredibly important in the world of business today. It allows companies to stay ahead of their competitors, as well as providing customers (internal and / or external) with the latest features and services. By releasing new features and services on a regular schedule, businesses can ensure that their customers remain satisfied and engaged with their products.

Faster and more frequent deployments also allow companies to quickly respond to customer feedback by releasing fixes or updates to existing products. This allows businesses to remain one step ahead of customer demand by continuously improving their product offering. Additionally, deploying data products faster and more frequently makes it easier for developers to quickly identify bugs or issues in the code, as they are able to make smaller changes on a shorter timeline.

Moreover, by deploying data products faster and more often, companies can benefit from increased agility when it comes to staying ahead of market trends and adapting their product offerings accordingly. Companies no longer have to wait until long development cycles have been completed before making changes; instead they can deploy new features or updates much quicker using shorter development cycles. This ensures that the company’s offerings remain competitive in an ever-changing marketplace.

Finally, when data products are deployed faster and more frequently, businesses are able to react much quicker if any issue arises with the product. By having all of their software up-to-date, companies can quickly diagnose and fix any bugs or errors that may arise without causing too much disruption for their customers. As such, being able to deploy data products faster and more often is essential for organizations looking to keep a competitive edge in today’s market landscape.

Failure is Okay

It is okay to fail when building data products because it gives us a valuable learning opportunity. While failure can be difficult, it also presents a great opportunity for growth and improvement. Failure allows us to identify the areas where we need to focus our attention and makes us better prepared when we approach similar problems in the future. Additionally, failure can inspire innovation and open up new avenues of exploration.

When looking at big data or machine learning projects, there are often hidden complexities that may not be visible to a non-technical eye and these sometimes lead to challenging situations that can only be solved through trial and error. Failing an experiment is part of the process and allows us to gain an understanding of what works and doesn’t work under certain circumstances. It is important to take failure constructively rather than letting it prevent us from making progress. We should learn from our mistakes and use them as opportunities for improvement.

Data products often involve complex processes with many variables that require mindful experimentation before arriving at an effective solution. Failing in one area does not necessarily mean failing overall; rather, it provides insight into how changes need to be made in order to move forward with more informed steps towards progress. Accepting failure as part of the process can act as both motivation and inspiration since we know that each mistake brings us closer to finding the right answer – even if it means starting again from scratch!


Developing a successful data product requires careful planning, execution, testing, and monitoring. By keeping these best practices in mind during development, designers and builders can ensure their products are successful from start to finish. Understanding how different components of a system interact with one another can help identify potential issues early on while testing ensures all features are working properly before launch day. Finally, ongoing monitoring is key for improving performance over time so that customers receive maximum value from their investment in the product. With these best practices in place, designers and builders can rest assured that their data products will be successful now—and well into the future!

Ajitesh Kumar
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Ajitesh Kumar

I have been recently working in the area of Data analytics including Data Science and Machine Learning / Deep Learning. I am also passionate about different technologies including programming languages such as Java/JEE, Javascript, Python, R, Julia, etc, and technologies such as Blockchain, mobile computing, cloud-native technologies, application security, cloud computing platforms, big data, etc. For latest updates and blogs, follow us on Twitter. I would love to connect with you on Linkedin. Check out my latest book titled as First Principles Thinking: Building winning products using first principles thinking. Check out my other blog,
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