If you're like me, you love cool products, you love creating products, and you love thinking about creating products.
It's fun, and also ambiguous, complex, and really, really tough.
We need ways to simplify that complexity, because if we try to work directly with all the possibilities and permutations we'd just end up paralysed.
I've found it really helpful to use principles as guideposts to navigate through that complexity.
So for the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting 21 product principles that help us to make better decisions and build better products.
Let's start with...
This is a big one. You need to be clear who your user is, to be able to understand her, to be able to help her, to be able to do anything really valuable.
Imagine you want to "Design a product to help school kids learn better".
How good can the product be if you don't go deeper?
How old are the kids? Where do they live? What is their experience at school? What are they struggling with? What are their goals?
But many companies aren't clear on this.
They have a vague idea - "our customers are sales people", or they're "investors", or "moms". That's too broad.
What specific group of people are you targeting and what specific needs and desires do they have?
Their needs and desires are more important than their demographics.
If you have a huge product like Facebook then you can be broad. But you still start narrow, as Facebook did, and then build up slice by slice. And even then different chunks of the product target narrow groups of users.
Sometimes we may have more than 1 type of user, or the buyer may be different. That's fine, we just need to be clear on each group.
Only then can we start creating products that are much better than what's out there.
Questions you can use to start applying this principle:
- Who do we want to help?
- What big problem do we want to solve?
- Who suffers most from those problems?
- Who currently gets the most value from our product?
- Who pays us and why?
- How can we get more specific?
- And more specific again?