Product-oriented design vs. Process-oriented Design

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The goal of Path Design is to provide support for every step of the process between Point A (starting situation) and Point B (resulting situation). This is a substantial change from product-oriented design, which exclusively focuses on the parts of the process that are within product scope.

Here's a typical example of product-oriented design (exactly the kind of thing Path Design seeks to disrupt): A camping app that promises to help you "discover the joys of camping," when in reality all it is designed to do is help you reserve a campground. The process of reserving a campground is streamlined and pleasant because it's within the scope of the product. But any "camping joys to be discovered" beyond reserving a campground are out of scope, and are, therefore, entirely up to you (the user).

Product-oriented thinking (seeing what you're building as a product that has immutable features that you hope people will have success with) is not the way to create an ideal process of getting from point A (where users are) to point B (where they want to be and the point they're seeking help in getting to).

Value Paths is an alternative to the product-oriented design paradigm. In Path Design, which is process-oriented rather than product-oriented, the scope of design isn't restricted to the scope of the product. Instead, it encompasses every step between starting and resulting situation. There are no parts of the process that are "up to the user."

You don't want to be counting on the users to fill in all of the blanks in a process that you should be the expert to. To defer to their expertise and have them improvise in order to get results is a strategy that that does a major disservice to users that just don't have that expertise as yet.