What are the keys to successful product design?

Take-aways from a talk in the Trust Center on 6/23/16

Translating an idea to reality (focusing on steps 22-24)


  1. Recognize your circumstances and observe the customer - “Planned Approach vs. Fail Fast”
  • Different circumstances require different approaches:
    • Planning is sometimes worth the extra time to prevent avoidable mistakes
    • Lean methodology is important because it allows you to test, iterate (and sometimes fail) quickly
  • What customers say not always = how they behave. Don’t ask customers: “Do you care about…?”. Look at their actual behaviors!


  1. Assign a PM and make their role clear
  • “The CEO of the product” -  the PM is responsible for the product from concept to implementation to iterations, success or failure.
  • “Responsibility without authority” - PMs need to work with other people and motivate them without using any formal authority.


  1.  Manage the process - from high to low level
  • Vision - The change you will effect in the world
  • Mission - Your role in that change
  • Strategy - How you will go about achieving that role. Who will you specifically target with this?


  • Vision vs. Strategy:
      • Your strategy might change throughout time, so does your brand, logo, product.. but your vision should stay fixed.
      • “Write your vision ahead of time and stay true to it.” Doing so will enable you to negotiate with others and will make sure you are aligned with your true goals when choosing a new strategy/ feature/ partnership.


  • The Roadmap: “... is not about the philosophy but about actual decisions”
    • It’s like a CHESS GAME - mapping out in the world what the best game of life is.
    • You need to be shrewd and think exclusively about what will add the most value to your customers in the shortest amount of time.


  • Low-fi (wireframe)
    • Translated directly from line items in your roadmap.
    • Are only the high-level frames of your product to emphasize the functionality  


  • Hi-fi (Mock-Up) 
    • Mock screens to emphasize the user experience


  1. Measure the impact / add value to your customers
    • Your impact is subjective - perceived by the customer


  • B2B vs. B2C:
    • B2B customers will want a concrete value proposition. There is certain terminology you should follow, and the impact is well defined - what impacts the bottom line?
    • B2C  customers might be much more emotional - the impact is harder to measure. They care about engagement and virality.
  • Think of the trade-offs: what are your customers’ goals and measurements? How complex is the implementation of a new feature/ product vs. how impactful will it be to your customer?


  1. How to focus on the most added value features?
  • Use your customers, sales, marketing, engineering, design, ops.
  • This is an iterative process
    • Start with the company’s strategy and VP-level strategy statements
    • Develop a hypothesis as to the most impactful releases reasonably attainable in the given time frame
    • Consult with people
    • Iterate, iterate, Iterate!
  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP0 = what you can sell)


  1. Additional takeaways
  • Be customer-oriented. Don’t build features. Solve Problems.
  • Flip between mindset of engineer and mindset of customer
  • Be ruthless in enforcing simplicity, for you and your customer’s sake
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