Creating value

To begin with, products and service create value in two ways:

  1. What problems it solves (I call these things pains)
  2. What existing activities it improves (I call these things gains)

Value occurs when you relieve a ‘pain’ or create a ‘gain’.

Value defined

Value is at the core of every experience. It’s the reason why we use one product or service over another.

It’s a simple equation. If something provides more value to you than something else, you’ll use it.

However, if this is true, wouldn’t everyone have an iPhone? No, because value is in the eye of the beholder. The way we perceive value is based on our view of the world, which differs between each person.

Value is all encompassing: price, durability, availability, and support  all equate to a product or service’s value.

For example, if the price of iPhones rose to $2,000 then this would be too expensive for a lot of people. The price would become a pain of the product.

Apple could relieve this pain by dropping the price down to $1,000.

If they did this, value would increase and people would begin to purchase iPhones again.


Value example-01

How to create value

The Value Creation Canvas is an adaptation of the Value Proposition Canvas. It makes explicit how you create value for your customers.

Value creation canvas-01

The Value Creation canvas has three steps;

  1. Identify the user’s pains and gains
  2. Creating the businesses pain relievers and gain creators
  3. Creating value by matching pains with pain relievers and gains with gain creators

1. Identifying user’s pains and gains

It’s easy to start filling out the canvas based on what pains and gains you assume your users have. However, this is not the way to create value.

The best products in the world don’t base decisions on assumptions – they base them on facts. If you do decide to base decisions on assumptions, you will struggle to get users and in a few months time one of two things will happen;

  1. You’ll realise you’ve gone down the wrong path and decide to start again by basing your user’s pains and gains on facts
  2. You’ll become disheartened and give up altogether

So make it easy for yourself – start your Value Creation Canvas by basing your user’s pains and gains on facts and not assumptions.

To do this, you need to actually interview your users. Ask them about your product or service, your competitors products or services, and any workarounds they may use. Taking a board approach like this allows you to identify all the opportunities where you can create value.

You can follow this blog post to find out how to interview users and how many you should talk to.


Once you’ve interviewed enough users, pull out common pains and gains and write them onto post-it notes. One pain or gain per post-it.

Stick these post-it’s under the appropriate area of the Value Creation Canvas.

For example, image you run a gym and want to create more value for your customers. The image below is what your Value Creation Canvas may look like after interviewing users about their pains and gains.

Value creation canvas - users done-01.png

2. Pain relievers and gain creators

Get your product team together.

Allow everyone to look over the user’s pains and gains then individually post-it note pain relievers and gain creators.

Pain relievers

  • Are how you will solve a customer’s pain

Gain creators

  • Are how you will make an existing activity better for users

This is what the businesses Pain relievers and Gain creators may look like for our previous gym example.

Value creation canvas - business-01

It works best if your team individually post-it notes their own answers. When sticking them on the canvas, you can then group similar responses. This is a design thinking technique that allows everyone to have a fair say – you can learn more about it in this blog about co-design.

3. Creating value

Now you’re ready to identify the value. Begin by trying to match up pains from the users side with pain relievers on the business side. Do this by drawing a line from one side of the canvas to the other. It’s ok to have one pain reliever solve multiple pains.

Value creation canvas - linked 1-01.png

Continue to do this for as many post-its as possible.

Once you’ve finished with the pains, match the gains with the gain creators.

Value creation canvas - linked 2-01.png

The matched up pains and gains represent the value you provide to your users.

To make the value more digestible, put the matched up items into a sentence. For example, a user’s pain could be that they are too shy to workout at the gym in front of the opposite sex. A pain reliever could be ‘Create gender specific workout rooms at the gym’.

This communicated into a sentence could look like this;

We provide gender specific areas of our gym to make everyone feel comfortable while working out.

This makes it easier for you to communicate your value.

Value creation canvas - value 2-01.png

Testing your value proposition

At this stage, if you’ve actually talked to users, you will have validated what your users pains and gains are.

However, you haven’t validated if your pain relievers and gain creators will create value, which is why you now need to test your value proposition.

Do this is by creating a Value Proposition Page.

valueprop page example 1.png

Google’s Nexus 6p value proposition page

A value proposition page isn’t like a landing page: your main objective is not to get sign ups, it is to test if your value proposition appeals to your users.

You can create your value proposition page by identifying your top 5 -10 value statements and placing them in order from most to least valuable on your page.

Don’t worry too much about the design of your value proposition page. The easiest thing to do is find one you like and copy it. Apple and Google have great examples.

Below is how our gym example’s value proposition page could look.


Consider using tools like Axure and InVision to create this page. Actually coding it will take too long because you constantly want to iterate and make changes. If you want to learn more about easily creating prototypes to test, then read my blog on prototyping.

Creating and testing a value proposition page allows you validate your value proposition without having to create anything. It will help you identify what’s important from your users point of view, which helps you prioritize your effort when creating your product or service.

Once you have tested it with users, you can iterate and make changes to it. If you continue to test and iterate this page it will only be a matter of time before you have fully validated your product or service’s value.

This is only the first step…

Value is only the first step of creating a great experience.

The second step is turning your value into something real and making sure people can use it.

For example, imagine if someone recently created a teleportation device. This product instantly has an appealing value proposition – you can travel anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds.

Now imagine the first time you use this teleportation device, you end up at the wrong destination! You put this error down to a simple mistake and decide to try it again. Once again, you end up in the wrong place! No matter how hard you try, you never end up where you intended.

No matter how appealing a value proposition is, it can mean nothing if it isn’t usable.

Next: How to make your experience usable >


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