I don’t agree with Mayer about everything, but I agree about this.
Department of Design
Curated by Timoni West.
Primarily focused on product design, technology, cognitive psychology, and the brain. Also—pretty pictures, sometimes moving.
Concern-trolling the entire media, by Meghan O’Connell.
I’m always flabbergasted that more products don’t go the subscription route, but then I remind myself I didn’t want to pay $5 a month to use RunKeeper instead of Nike Running. Just didn’t seem better enough, unlike Dropbox or Instapaper.
Which illustrates the point: If your product is not noticeably better, you will lose customers if you go subscription. This has been true for newspapers and media forever.
This is incredibly key. Having a cofounder come back after a meeting with clients or investors and re-prioritize features—or, worse, the whole product road map—is the biggest single moral-killer outside of actual layoffs or bad working conditions.
This behavior is almost unethical—not because the founder is being dishonest with customers; they might get the feature done in time. But the founder is ignoring and devaluing their team, who have likely already set up a thoughtful product feature road map that is being ignored.
(This assumes you have a product road map, of course. If you don’t, then by all means build out a product piecemeal based on potential customer whims; it’s as good a goalpost as nothing. But instead of more customer meetings, you should likely sit down and figure out what you’re doing.)
Short of some weekend hackathon you did with your buddies or an internal tool your company uses that took off unexpectedly, every feature of any product you intend to sell or monetize should strive to be as polished as reasonably possible and function just as your end-user expects it should.
Don’t be one of those startups that delivers broken features with the excuse, “It’s just the M.V.P., we’ll fix it later.” Man up, admit it isn’t good enough, and fix it now.
Otherwise, you’re missing the entire point of the M.V.P. in the first place - to iterate quickly on small features based on customer feedback and measurable data. If it doesn’t work right in the first place, the only feedback you’ll get is likely what you already know.
The tide has already gone this direction, so I don’t need to expound much. But it’s true that releasing a MVP at this point is not the same as releasing a MVP in 2007. Unless your product is genuinely new, has no competition, and is absolutely needed, your MVP needs to focus on what features will make it ‘viable’.
Breaking Through Mental Blocks & Learning New Things, by Jenn Vargas.
I post this because Vargas is one of those rare people capable of independently executing ideas, which she does on a regular basis. This post not only has good advice, but some interesting insight into her process, and how she remains capable of constantly learning and producing new things.
This is something I’ve noticed, but from from another direction: discussions around popular apps losing younger users.
Younger users are quick to jump onboard with trending apps. But they are not the biggest online spenders—that’s baby boomers—and they are likely to discard an app once it’s perceived as less cool. (Just a guess here, but likely it gets ‘less cool’ when the older, financially solvent user segments come along.)
In short: apps are currently evaluated and funded based on their popularity with a cash-poor, fickle user segment. VCs and financial analysts are not only aware of this, but have decided those are ideal metrics on which to base their investments.
Clearly it is to their advantage to invest in a briefly popular app rather than an app with a smaller, more stable user base. Which begs the question: why even pretend most popular apps have a future?
Product design. This is my definition, at least. The term is being used to describe any interface designer who happens to work on a product, which is unfortunate, but I’ll keep using this one.
But why us? Why should designers be in these roles? Well, one immediate answer is simply that I would like to be in control over the future I’m building. Right now, many of us can only change our answer to Wilson’s questions by just quitting and finding a new job where we’re bought into the vision.
But deeper, I think this is something designers can be really great at. We already understand how to induce utility, delight, motivation at the level of the interface. Expanding that toolset to apply to the bigger picture is not a huge leap.
This is a way of thinking about design that’s growing in popularity, but I recognize that it’s still a minority, maybe even an extreme minority. Nonetheless, I remain optimistic. When I look at the major shifts in our field over the past years — user-centered design, standards-based design, responsive design — years of advocacy have led to genuine, sustained progress. I’m confident we’ll get there.
David Cole, on Product Designers, via (86) Applied Discovery: Presentation from Build 2013 - Emesis - Quora
The Silent Partner, a really wonderful interview about Jason Goldman, product manager at Twitter, and cofounder of Obvious Corp.
Do you ever worry your Flickr photos may vanish? Or wish that you had a better way to browse your old Instagram photos? Or that you could easily jump to a past date and see where you were on Foursquare. Or that Twitter’s archive wasn’t such a miserable wreck and you could actually search your old tweets or, well, do anything useful with your messages that were more than a few days old? Meet Recollect. It’s here to save your social media, in more ways than one, and it’s officially in an open public beta now.
Recollect acts as both an archive to back up your tweets, photos, and check-ins, and as a discovery engine that puts a pretty Web-facing skin on your social media services that’s both searchable and browsable by date. Right now, it works with Flickr, Foursquare, Instagram and Twitter, but the company says it has plans to add more services. Facebook, for example, is on its list of future services.
Recollect came from the founders’ vision that although we’re sharing so much as it happens, the things we post online tend to be ephemeral and largely vanish after a few days. ”We’re all sharing more now than anyone ever did in the past,” founder Chris Martin told Wired. “But for most of the services we use to share, the primary use is real time. But you’re telling your story, and we hope that Recollect can become a place where you can go back and revisit that story and all that content you created.”
Recollect works like this: Sign up for one of its (paid) plans and authorize it with your various services, and it imports all of your posts (or, in Twitter’s case, the most recent 3,200, the limit set by Twitter’s API), as well as the associated social data, such as comments and likes. After you set things up, Recollect continually collects your new tweets, photos and check-ins–as well as comments and interactions–and rescans your older posts. So if someone comments on one of your photos a few weeks after you posted it, Recollect will grab that, too. It’s built to take advantage of push APIs when possible, but it also has a nightly job that runs and checks for updates. It also lets you download all that data into a zip file to your hard drive.
My company, Recollect, is going into public beta today. Mat Honan at Wired did an amazing write-up.
Jason Putorti • Mint vs. Wesabe: A B-School Case Study. Anybody else find this conclusion backwards? A clear technological vision indicates product development is paramount, and customer development is secondary, as Mint—according to the article—wasn’t tailoring their product to a particular consumer segment.