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1980.gg: the Linktree for Esports
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Product Strategy

Lean UX Canvas

I don’t necessarily take advantage of canvas when I plan a new project but this time I used the acclaimed
.

As Lean UX Canvas creator Jeff Gothelf puts it:

“The Lean UX Canvas helps teams frame their work as a business problem to solve (rather than a solution to implement) and then dissect that business problem into its core assumptions. We then weave those assumptions into hypotheses. Finally, we design experiments to test our riskiest hypotheses.”

LeanUX_canvas_v5.png

This exercise helped me to generate hypotheses using business problems, outcomes and ideas, to define a strategy to build my product.

I’m trying to replicate a startup success on a particular vertical, gaming and esports, and this is a big advantage. I can learn from them. Linktree, the market leader, recently raised $45M. This event has been covered by the press with some founder interviews. I notably used this material for my Lean UX Canvas answers.

1. Business Problem

What problem does the business have that you are trying to solve?

As the social internet gets increasingly fragmented, we have more and more personal profiles on different services. It’s harder to showcase all our digital activities, everything we do. Some platforms, like Instagram, restricts the information and links you can share in your bio. You have only one link, the famous ‘link-in-bio’, to promote all your business activities or online profiles.

This business problem is common for all ‘link-in-bio’ services. In a gaming and esports perspective, the same problem exists: gamers have many different profiles across multiple platforms and there are no common places where players can introduce themselves and their team! It’s difficult to exist outside of each social platform.

2. Business Outcomes

How will you know you solved the business problem? What will you measure?

It’s a big challenge but my business outcome is to help teams (and by extension their players) in their digital presence and amplify their brand awareness.
It’s a passion project, if costs and my time are covered, it will be a winning business.
Maybe a more concrete business outcome will be to receive positive feedback from teams happy with this product and the benefits it provides.

3. Users

What types of users and customers should you focus on first?

I have some ideas to target gamers, gaming enthusiasts of consoles and games, not only esports players, with my project, but first I want to focus on a smaller and reachable group of users.

In my
, I did a first identification of potential users, groups and segmentation options. I already put aside game publishers, tournament organizers and streamers for different reasons (that you can discover by reading the Market Analysis).

To begin, my project focus is on teams: not the top ones, too few and hard to engage, but the amateur to semi-professional ones.

pyramid targets.jpg
The usual esports pyramid structure

Teams of any level are created by people. I will have to find the right contact(s): founder, community and social manager, team captain, etc., who are my potential users and customers. The people who will want to have this tool for their team, will create an account, configure their page and maybe pay for it. And in a second time, my product will allow these team members to be able to create their page as well.

Geographically, I will target American and European teams. I know better the scenes, games and tournament platforms rather than the actors from Asia, Africa or Oceania.

I will not focus my efforts on a specific game or video game genre. Maybe console or mobile teams can be better segments to address because they are newcomers on the esports market with less tools dedicated for them?

4. User Outcomes & Benefits

Why would your users seek out your product or service? What benefit would they gain from using it? What behavior change can we observe that tells us they've achieved their goal?

This section of the Lean UX Canvas is key. I note here my main assumptions which will need to be tested and maybe validated. I see too many (esports) projects oriented toward solutions, features, rather than user benefits. I did that myself a lot in the past: implementing features without really thinking of my users goals and the benefits they can obtain.

I already know that (global) influencers are looking for a ‘link-in-bio’ tool, what are the outcomes and benefits?
The unique ‘link-in-bio’ problem is fixed
Users can promote easier themselves, their activity or business
Users can regroup their digital activities, social media
Users can promote different products, blog posts at the same time
It’s faster to update one tool, rather that X social platforms
It helps to connect different audiences from different social media
It increases the users’ visibility and revenue
Most solutions provide analytics and stats to let users understand better what converts
These tools are really easy to create, customize and update
Users don’t have to worry about the technology side (hosting, bugs and updates...)

The winning formula behind ‘link-in-bio’ services seems to be: simplicity + reach + stats & tracking = growth (traffic & revenue).

Regarding teams, why will they invest time and money in my project? What benefits would they gain from using it? I used to play Counter-Strike, playing in amateur teams. I even created my own small club. My assumptions are partly from this background and from the
and what I have seen. But there is a known bias, we tend to confuse our personal preferences with our customers’ preferences. I will have to test my hypotheses with potential users.

Professionalization matters a lot for teams:

SKADE-skadegg-Twitter.png
A Twitter profile and bio team example.

‘Pro’ esports organization: it’s a classic way for teams to name themselves. They want to be seen as ‘pro’ teams in order to:
get noticed, to become more known and popular
which can help to attract and retain good players
and partners & sponsors
to reach the goal to live off their passion by becoming a real professional team
or at least to stabilize and structure the team (an amateur team lifetime is short, some weeks to few months)

Teams want to climb the esports pyramid. Owning an esports team is dependent on marketing and brand awareness. Some little details help to look more professional like a good logo, name, as well as filled and active social profiles, and a nice landing page / hub to communicate efficiently.

5. Solutions

What can we make that will solve our business problem and meet the needs of our customers at the same time? List product, feature, or enhancement ideas here.

My vision is not to create a social platform or a Linkedin for teams. There are already a lot of social media for gamers. I can’t compete with Discord, Twitter, Steam, etc. My project is to launch a ‘link-in-bio’ tool, micro website / landing page builder, at the beginning dedicated to esports teams (a modern
solution for my oldest followers!).

I can have a look at the existing ‘link-in-bio’ solutions and pick ideas of features. I should not reinvent the wheel 😋:
Mobile first
Blocks of content (bio, social networks, custom links, embed, etc)
Stunning page in minutes (this is really important!)
Simple drag-and-drop editor to effortlessly manage your content
Clean & professional layout: basic and advanced design customization
Connect your domain
Customize the metadata (for SEO & social sharing)
Collect fan emails
Analytics (who doesn’t love stats)

Yet, I need to differentiate enough my product for teams, or it will be just another service in an endless list of options.
My marketing and communication on the target (the gaming teams) can help, but I would like to support the professionalization desire of teams with specific features. The 'one link’ problem is less relevant for players, I think. Because Twitch and Twitter are the favorite destinations of the gaming audience, and you can easily link multiple profiles on them.

-1-Rhyno-Esports-RhynoEsports_-Twitter.png
Multi social links promoted on a Twitter team profile

Still, you are locked on a platform and listing all your links in your bio is a bad answer to a real problem. At the same time, “classic” websites are less and less relevant in a mobile-first era. Users are used to social media with one common UX per platform for all the profiles and pages. Navigating websites can be very different one to another. You have to find the URL. Add the costs to create, host and run your website, and you don’t get enough value anymore from owning your proper website. This is why I suppose that a simple solution like a ‘link-in-bio’ tool could be a great and modern answer for teams. Some specific features I have in mind:

Blocks of content made for teams
Games
Line-up (players info)
Achievements
Calendar (of tournaments or matches)
Sponsors
Page templates depending on the team situation (solo game, multi games, mobile, etc)
Custom themes appealing for teams
Scouting / recruitment form
Promotion of shop items, as many (pro and semi pro) teams focus their website strategy on a merchandising shop
A Twitch extension to display the hub right from a stream
A Discord integration (with a bot?)

At this step, I try to list any potential features. If you have other ideas, I would love to hear them! Feel free to contact me on
or
.

I will classify and prioritize all ideas later. As you can see, no epic features, only classic ones. I will not implement all the possible ideas because less is more! The product needs to stay simple to use.

6. Hypotheses

Combine the assumptions from 2, 3, 4 & 5 into the following hypothesis statement: “We believe that [business outcome] will be achieved if [user] attains [benefit] with [feature].”

I didn’t expect to write as much information in this page, clearly the Lean UX Canvas is a great tool to generate ideas and hypotheses. I completed the last sections quickly, because it’s time to sum up what I wrote above, and think about tasks to validate my assumptions.

To reuse my hypotheses from the User Outcomes & Benefits section:
Professionalization matters a lot for teams.
The winning formula of ‘link-in-bio’ tools (simplicity + reach + stats & tracking = growth) can help them achieve that.
My project can be a success if it offers enough differentiation on the market and the current list of ‘link-in-bio’ services.

Sum up in the Lean UX Canvas format:

I believe that the success of my project will be achieved, if teams attain professionalization and brand awareness, with their custom hub & landing page provided by my solution.

The Lean UX Canvas mentions one hypothesis per feature. For now, I stay at this high level. I would like first to validate my project hypotheses, before listing assumptions based on features.

7. What’s the most important thing we need to learn first?

For each hypothesis from Box 6, identify its riskiest assumptions. Then determine the riskiest one right now. This is the assumption that will cause the entire idea to fail if it’s wrong.

From my Lean UX Canvas hypotheses and the solutions considered:
Is this professionalization subject really something teams are looking for?
Do teams see the value to create a custom hub for their activity in order to become more professionalized?
Do the solutions I listed above can achieve this professionalization goal? What features in particular?

The most important thing to learn first is the first question. My project, the features, user flow, headline and communication will be based on this assumption of professionalization.

8. What’s the least amount of work we need to do to learn the next most important thing?

Design experiments to learn as fast as you can whether your riskiest assumption is true or false.

As images speak louder than words, I will define prototypes of what I have in mind to show them during user interviews, a UX research method. I will create hi-fidelity prototypes of several team pages that my solution will be able to produce. The least amount of work would be to create low or mid-fidelity prototypes, but I prefer to invest a little more time to provide a better visualization.

Conclusions

The Lean UX Canvas has created a foundation for my product strategy, listing hypotheses, ideas of features, for running useful tests that will reduce risk and drive smarter decisions.

I can continue my product journey. I worked on the naming and the visual identity, before being able to create the prototypes.

You may now want to go back to the
.

Thank you Craig I. for the review and feedback!

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