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Why you should use the product canvas for product planning [+Template]

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Product Canvas Template To Level Up Product Planning

A product canvas is a collaborative exercise to build user experiences your users will love.
This template was built with Coda, the all-in-one doc that brings words, data, and teams together. Play with the template below or copy the doc to save your edits.

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Target Group
Persona 1
Persona 2
Persona 3
Big Picture
Describe the user experience
User interface sketches
Product Details
Sprint goal
User stories
Action items

The product canvas is a comprehensive framework for building product features your users will love. One of the benefits of the framework is that it can be utilized with your agile framework. It combines user stories, metrics, and design sketches all in one place so you can validate whether product features your team wants to build will be used by your target audience. The product canvas can be used by product managers, product owners, and anyone who wants to validate a product idea.

What is a product canvas?

A product canvas is simply a tool and framework for building products that have features your users will love. Understanding and laying out the user experience is a crucial step to the product canvas. If your team uses agile or scrum methodologies, the product canvas is a great exercise to consider as the outputs of the exercise can be used for epics, stories, and sprints.
A product canvas is typically used by product development and product management teams to get a big picture of what features to build. The product canvas is just one part of a bigger system for running your business. The business model canvas is a more encompassing framework to examine all aspects of your business to find ways to improve. Finally, the is another tool to keep up your sleeve for after the product launch.

How to use this product canvas template?

Step 1: Define Product Name, Goal, and Metrics

On the page, you'll see the entire template to use for the product canvas. Before you get started on the main sections of the canvas, you need to establish the name, goal, and metrics for success of the feature you want to build.
The Name is simply a product name for your feature (e.g. mobile app). The Goal is the objective of building this feature (e.g. get downloads of the app). Metrics are the criteria for success (e.g. get over 10,000 downloads). By filling out these fields first, other stakeholders can quickly see what the purpose of this feature or launch is. If you want to create multiple features, you can simply duplicate the page and create one product canvas for each feature.

Step 2: Add target groups

Before you get started add features to your product roadmap, you need to understand who you are building the features for. Clicking the Add Target Group button allows you to start adding the target audiences and target personas to your product canvas. You can also attach pictures to each persona so that when your teammates see the target audience, they can get a visual too.

Step 3: Add big picture

This is where you start adding the main product features and user experiences to your product canvas. You should include scenarios, storyboards, epics, design sketches, mock-ups, and functionality in this step. Keep in mind that the UX features you add should have a value proposition for the target groups you defined in the previous step.

Step 4: Add product details

This is the final step in the product canvas and helps you turn this exercise into actionable next steps for your team, company, or startup. Based on the new product features you want to build from the previous step, break down the features into their component tasks that you can add to your next sprint. You may even decide to detail a prototype to validate whether this is the right product feature to build for your target audience. Once you've filled out the three different canvas sections, you can also see a kanban board layout of all the target groups, big picture, and product details you've added as a team.

👉 Get started with product canvas template
Copy this template

After you have copied this template, you can create multiple product canvases for different product features by simply duplicating the page. To do this, click on the 3 dots on the page in the left-hand sidebar and click Duplicate.

What is a product canvas?

A product canvas is a tool to help your build and validate new product features that have a great user experience. For product managers, this is a useful tool to help determine the product vision and product roadmap. For agile product teams, the product canvas is a useful tool to help prioritize which features to build in upcoming sprints.
The output of the product canvas is a specific set of tasks to help your product development team get a minimum viable product (MVP) off the ground. The product canvas is an extremely flexible framework that can be used with the lean startup methodology because it emphasizes iteration on your product features and hypotheses about what your target audience wants.

What does a product canvas look like

The product canvas is typically a visual tool to help you plan and build newproduct features. Roman Pichler is considered the creator of the product canvas and you can see his original diagram below:
When filling out the product canvas, you typically are doing this in an in-person group setting with a whiteboard and markers. Given that many teams are distributed, it may make sense to use a template that can be collaborated on by multiple teammates such as this Coda template. By using this template, you can take the output of the product canvas and utilize other and templates that include a product backlog for your product team to execute on.

Product canvas example

The below example is also from Roman Pichler's website. It shows an example of a dance studio app that includes target users, the big picture, and product details to be included in this product. The images give you additional context on what the user journey looks like.

Product canvas FAQs

When should you use a product canvas?

You should use the product canvas when you want to create a product roadmap of features to build that result in a great user experience. Agile product teams will use the product canvas when they want to figure out how to prioritize the features to build as part of their bigger product strategy.
You should also consider using a product canvas when you have a diverse set of stakeholders within your organization who have an interest in launching a new product. The product canvas can be a collaborative exercise for not just your product development team. When done collaboratively, the product canvas can uncover new target groups and user interactions that your product team may not have thought about.

How do you create a product canvas?

You can create a product canvas with physical paper or a whiteboard, but many distributed teams will use an online template like this Coda template. The main sections you need to create on your product canvas include some contextual data like:
Unique name or identifier
Once you have defined this contextual data, the main sections of the product canvas include:
Target group (target audience for your product)
Big picture (user experience, epics, scenarios, etc.)
Product details (sprint items and action items to build the actual product)

What are the benefits of using a product canvas?

The main benefit of using a product canvas is that it allows your product development team that your users will love. By focusing on the target audiences and target groups, you ensure that the user experience is tailored to their wants and needs.
Since the product canvas exercise is meant to be done collaboratively, you get a variety of perspectives and inputs on what features to build in the product. In terms of your team's workflow, the product canvas is a good input into the sprint planning and product planning processes because the output of the product canvas is the actual tasks to include in your next sprint.

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