PUB #00 Building Products Customers Love24th July 2019 in The PUB Series
When I first started out in Product, I wrote a Medium article about Product Management from First Principles which was always meant as a starting point for me to reflect on my growth and experience.
Since then, I've been through the highs of a successful launch, the lows of building products that scrape the bottom of the barrel, and the hangover from working with challenging teams 🤮
The Principles Of The Series
Today, I want to use what I've written to lay the ground for a series of posts I've been itching to work on for awhile. Each post will pick a product and review it through the core principles of building great products: PUB 🍻
- User Experience
If you're not already familiar with this Venn diagram. It's common for PM's to describe their role like this.
Instead of limiting it to just tech products, I've replaced the top right circle with 'Product' because I also want to discuss products outside tech too. Let's briefly go through each circle.
To clarify, my use of 'product' includes physical goods or services.
All products need to create value that is desired by a segment of people.
The keywords here are value and segment. For a product to be valuable, its 'job' is to solve a problem. Now, without identifying the problem, how do you solve it? This is why deeply understanding the problem is often a core, if not one of the most important responsibilities of a PM.
As a PM goes about answering this question, a natural follow up is 'for whom?' Problems can span across age, sex, income, or any persona you think of, but focusing on a specific segment helps reduce the complexity of cases that needs to be accounted for.
Having a solution is just one part. The user also has to recognize that the product solves their problem. This goes by many names depending on what's trending, but I’ll just call it the user experience and a great one does 2 things well.
1) Earn trust - Words, dance, or song; a button, a slider, or a box. Products take users on a journey and must earn their trust that its solution to the problem is better than any of the alternatives out there.
2) Mold - We often think that products must mold to the patterns of our users and forget that a well designed experience can mold their habits too.
For a product to solve a problem consistently, it may have to educate and ingrain certain behaviors that were previously unnatural for the user. Think of the first smartphone! And obviously, molding users has ethical effects which a PM has to consider.
This goes into the domain of behavioral economics which I won't elaborate on. To learn more about this field, both ‘Hooked’ by Nir Eyal (practical) and ‘Thinking Fast & Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman (more theory) are excellent reads.
A product cannot solve a problem repeatedly if the business is not sustainable.
Great products don't just create value, they capture value just as efficiently.
Many product managers that don't graduate from B-school can be weaker on the financials of their product(at least I am). But to function in our capitalist system, the unit economics must make sense.
Looking into the business model and operational costs which makes products succeed is just as crucial as the user experience or even the product itself.