Great Product Design = All About Your Users
When I think about product design philosophy, the most important point of emphasis for product managers must be the end user. In other words, you need to aggressively user-focused. Among product people, there’s a tendency to focus on building things just because they’re “cool.” While we should all want to bring something new and exciting to our customers, you still need to ensure that your solutions are relevant to their needs. Simply put, products need to provide clear value in solving a meaningful problem.
To guide your product design process, you need to define a problem that needs to be solved for your customers. It’s easy for product managers to skip this step and go straight for the solution. As a result, you end up missing the mark with your finished product. This is where creating value for your users is so essential – as your product needs to deliver an outcome or result that they can’t get anywhere else.
One way to ensure success in your product design is to focus on a single use case. Simply put, it’s hard enough to solve one problem – let alone trying to create value for every single person. Instead, I recommend starting small and owning one specific task or function. Ultimately, not every customer wants the same thing – and you can’t create a single solution for every customer. As a result, it’s best to nail individual use cases and expand your product portfolio to meet these specific needs.
Looking at current products that represent this approach, Google Docs is a great example of a product that is user-focused without trying to do too much.
From a functional perspective, Google did not set out to re-invent Microsoft Word or other programs in Microsoft Office. Instead, they chose to create a simple experience that gives users basic features required for text-based documents. However, they added innovative collaboration tools that enable multiple users to engage with the same document.
In summary, Google realized that they couldn’t compete with all of the robust features provided by Microsoft. That said, the sharing and collaborative capabilities in Google Docs can’t be replicated in Word. Ultimately, I still use Microsoft Office for more complex tasks. That said, Google Docs provides a simple solution for day-to-day collaboration within my team.