Over the past two years, Citrix has adopted a customer-centric approach to building and selling its virtual workspace technologies.

Breaking away from traditional processes driven by scope, budget and feature checklists, we adopted the perspective of our customers from the very earliest stages of development. Our experience with this process over the development of our upcoming Citrix Workspace Cloud has affirmed our belief in the importance of this shift for our organization as well as our customers.

In designing the upcoming Citrix Workspace Cloud, we defined the customer value proposition for the solution through a lens of customer desirability—what really matters to businesses and users, and why—and designed the entire customer lifecycle, from trial to purchase to advocacy, to curate a coherent and intuitive customer journey. Constant iteration based on real customer feedback helped us stay true to this vision. The result of this approach has been an entirely new services platform for our customers and channel partners.

In this post, you’ll learn how the Citrix design process works today, and how it ensures the greatest value for our customers.

Define the value proposition from the customer’s perspective
We began our design process for Citrix Workspace Cloud by thinking about the customer challenges we wanted to solve. In this case, the customers are the IT solution providers and managers who design and deliver mobile workspaces to end-users. Their challenge is to meet rising expectations and demands for new ways of working.

People today need to be able to work anywhere, at any time, and they hate having to stop and think about things like what kind of network they can access, what types of devices they have available, and where the data they need is stored. That’s the feeling we keyed in on—the frustration and obstacles to productivity that people face based on their current circumstances. By extension, we also needed to address the frustration IT service providers and managers feel with the complexity and the time involved in setting up and delivering mobile workspaces.

From that perspective, a cross-functional team that included designers, engineers, marketing managers and product managers hashed out a rough paragraph describing our idea for solving the complexity problem, and the value customers would gain as a result. In effect: By allowing people, including IT solution providers and IT managers, to work the same way and access all the same resources from anywhere at anytime, we can help them focus on their work, not their tools, and become more productive.

Of course, our first version of our value prop was only the beginning. We went through hundreds of iterations over a matter of weeks, adding content, refining our definitions and building the paragraph into a full tangible concept that could be experienced by customers.

A common pitfall in product development is to rely on your own notion of your customers’ needs and preferences. To keep us on-track, we brought real customers into our process from the very beginning and checked in with them frequently to make sure we were on target in terms of both the problems they faced and the best way to solve them. These research sessions were planned and observed by cross-functional teams including product, engineering, marketing and sales personnel, who synthesized our findings into a coherent sense of the customer’s perspective across the end-to-end lifecycle.

We also worked hard to make our value proposition easy to comprehend. If you can’t state the benefits of a product in simple, concise terms, it’s all too easy to create a hodgepodge of loosely related features rather than a true customer-centric solution.

Design experiences, not just products
Traditionally, at Citrix as well as at other companies, teams tend to set out to build a product, and their design process revolves narrowly around it: what does it do, how do people use it and how does it work. Their vision for the product amounts largely to the sum of its features, which are selected according to what’s needed to achieve both parity and differentiation with the competition.

That’s a very one-dimensional view with no consideration of the relative value of various features for customers, and it also fails to reflect the ways people acquire and use products in the real world.

Rather than thinking in terms of designing products, we now design experiences that solve peoples’ problems. Think about how an individual interacts with a product across the customer lifecycle: they become aware of it, want to try it out, decide to buy it, roll it out, use it day-to-day, become advocates for it within and beyond the organization. Each of these experiences should be as valuable as we can make it, and designed around the customer’s needs, preferences and convenience.

By prioritizing experiences that are both highly differentiated and valuable to customers, we made sure our design would reflect real solutions to actual needs, not just engineering challenges and product features to be checked off.

Map the customer journey
Early on, our customers gave us insight into a core truth: people are tired of complex products. That led us to simplify the customer journey as much as possible and make it easy for people to fit Citrix Workspace Cloud into their lives and businesses. Beyond the design of the platform itself, that also meant paying attention to how people would learn about the platform on the website, the kind of demos we provided and the ease with which people could try it out.

Our trials were also designed to provide a complete sense of what it would be like to interact with the platform by highlighting features from workspace customization to user experience analytics. We wanted customers to be able to visualize and comprehend the solution’s value on an intuitive level, not have to deduce it between the lines of marketing copy. Later in the journey, social tools help people advocate for the solution to promote full adoption, further increasing its impact and value.

We also understand that people traverse their journey in different ways, at different speeds.If someone wants to go straight from trial to rollout, how can we make that possible? If they want to advocate for us early on in a trial, how do we enable that moment as a seamless part of the experience? If the person participating in the trial will need to influence his boss and others in organization to pave the way for a purchase, how can we facilitate that? One outcome of this thinking was to introduce a capability for people to share and discuss a trial experience with peers in real time.

Keep Iterating
Rapid iteration continues to play a key role throughout our design process. We never implement the first idea that comes to mind, but push our designers to come up with multiple explorations to solve each problem, working against their own instincts to discover new possibilities. We also encourage them to challenge traditional product requirements. We’re not just building made-to-order interfaces on assignment from the product team; we’re working as full partners with product and engineering to realize a vision.

As Citrix Workspace Cloud nears launch this spring, we’re confident that our approach to design has resulted in a platform with differentiated value that’s more than just the sum of its features. We’re now working across our organization to make sure this approach guides the creation of more products and solutions to continually increase their value to customers.