Happy Path in Software Development
As a product manager, I learned about the Happy Path concept from my manager. This is how it works in product management.
The Happy Path
When building a new product, you first focus on the happy path. The happy path is a journey a user of a product is taking, assuming everything works as it’s supposed to.
Example: Instagram Post
- A user logs in (assuming all the credentials are entered correctly).
- A user proceeds to the homepage,
- A user clicks on the desired button,
- A user selects an image to upload (assuming the image is of the right format and size)
- A user enters captions and hashtags
- A user click “Publish” button
- A post is successfully published and a user can see it in their feed.
This is the happy path. Again, it is the path that the user takes when everything works.
And then once you are done building for the happy path, you can focus on accounting for all the things that can go wrong:
- A user entered incorrect login information
- A user lost wifi signal
- An image selected is too large or too small
- Couldn’t connect to the server
- A user’s caption exceeded allowed limit
Now, after you are done with the happy path, you can build for all these use case scenarios.
The Happy Path can be a very useful concept for managing our to-do lists and personal projects. Let’s take planning a wedding as a complicated project many people feel overwhelmed by. Who should I invite? What venue do we choose? What if it rains? What if the food doesn’t show up on time? What if the cake lady cancels our order? Etc.
What you can do is kind of divide the to-do list into different sections. And the first one can be the happy path – What should be there assuming everything and everyone coordinates? A date picked, a venue, guests, food… You get the idea.
Now your to-do list kind of narrows down to a manageable number of tasks and you focus on those for the first few sprints. After you’re done with the happy path, you can account for all the “what if” scenarios. What if it rains? What if catering is late? What if the dress is not ready or doesn’t fit?
You can apply this concept to launching a new business, a new podcast, planning a big event, etc.
First, you focus on all the fundamentals and only then you focus on all the what-ifs.
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