SpotHero Product Lead on Simplifying Product Management (Part 2)
It’s easy to think that simple interfaces do not carry a ton of complexity on the back-end of development. In reality, the opposite is true. In order to build intuitive products that customers love, product management teams must work tirelessly to simplify complex processes. Furthermore, this forces us to think a bit like product designers. In other words, you’re trying to create an experience that is so straightforward that the “design work” fades into the background.
Ever since joining SpotHero, I have a deeper appreciation for working on an app that simplifies unexpectedly complex transactions. For example, the interaction that customers have with our app is very straightforward. You simply open it, press a button and you magically have a parking spot. In reality, the parking systems that we’re managing to simplify these customer interactions are incredibly challenging.
For starters, our product management team has to account for more than 50 hardware systems that manage parking lots. As you imagine, it’s not easy to create a universal experience when customers have so many options. In addition, there are differences in how you enter and exit open-air parking lots vs. multi-level parking garages. As a result, our team has to account for unique entries/exits across multiple parking options.
The key to creating these solutions is to always have the end-user in mind.
In other words, user-centered design is at the heart of every successful product management team. At SpotHero, one of our mantras is to “give drivers the right of way” – which is one of many “parking puns” that we have!
Every day, I’ll hear members of our team saying “we need to solve this problem because of customer issues” at a specific parking lot. It may seem daunting to solve every customer issue – but that’s a major piece of what makes any product culture special.
Ultimately, the only way to continue making complex processes more simple is a fanatical dedication to your users. As a result, our new hires have to sit with our customer service team constantly during their first month of employment. In the end, product management teams are only as effective as their ability to understand their users.
About the speaker
Jenny Wanger is the Sr. Product Manager at SpotHero - where she managed a complete app/website redesign and continues to optimize the parking experience for drivers around the world. Prior to joining SpotHero, she worked on digital products at Arity - and also managed events for the National Charter Alliance for Public Schools. In addition, Jenny worked in several restaurants as a line cook - which she credits for instilling valuable skills that have served her well in becoming a product manager. Jenny holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently lives in Chicago.