Tag Archives: Product Design

Building that 1-Click magic in your Product

Many startups struggle when it comes to building features for their product. Their product road-maps are a list of features they plan to include over next 6-9 months; once they are built out – its a feature mess ~ too many things to do that leaves the user confused.

This does not stop here., entrepreneurs always have this gut feeling – the next feature will be ‘the one’ that will make it up for us. End result is the product becomes feature-heavy or too complex to use.

On my last post – 15 Steps towards building a Great Product, I posted about a simplified approach towards building products; this post is about adding a little magic with just 1-Click.

Here are some examples of 1-Click features:

  • Amazon: 1-Click Checkout (Transaction)
  • AngelList: 1-Click Apply to Accelerators (Application)
  • AngelList: 1-Click Introduction for hiring talent (Hiring)
  • Facebook: 1-Click Sign-in for 3rd Party Apps (Registration)
  • Foursquare: 1-Click Check-in (Location)
  • LinkedIn: 1-Click Endorsement (Interaction)
  • LinkedIn: 1-Click Apply (Hiring)
  • Quora: 1-Click Upvote (Endorsement)
  • Twitter: 1-Click on # for Topics & Trends (Buzz)
  • Uber: 1-Click to Book-a-Cab (Location)

The equation is simple here – what is the core data the product has about the end user and figure out the 1-click feature that best suits your product use-case.

Example.,

  • Amazon stores user data & credit card information which enables it to do single click checkout. 
  • AngelList has a startup profile that it connects with investors / accelerators / talent. 
  • Facebook has user information & social graph through which it allows users to signup for 3rd party apps. 
  • LinkedIn has professional profile of the user through which it allows users to apply for jobs. 
  • Foursquare has user’s location that is used to check-in at a venue.
  • Quora has user’s credentials that are used to upvote (or endorse) a particular answer.
  • Uber has user’s location that is used to book a cab.

Similarly there are opportunities for 1-click on-site distribution. Share on Facebook, Retweet on Twitter, Re-pin on Pinterest or Re-blog on Tumblr are some superb examples of on-site distribution achieved by a single click! 

Concluding Notes:
Many startups choose to ignore simple means to add a magical experience to their products. Focus on building too many features makes the product a bit complicated and difficult to use. 

Remember – most startup products / features are just connecting two dots. Do that with a single click and make it feel like magic!

 

Forget coding. Startup founders should focus on Product & Design.

Last year (2011) learning coding was hot, may be it still is. Sites like Code for America came up; startups like Codecademy, Learnstreet, Udacity, etc came up that were focusing on building products that enabled others to learn coding in an interactive way. Then it looked like a kind of movement, a revolution in making.

Being a startup founder some of those effects trickled down to India – that made me seriously consider coding. And there were some other reasons as well. We started Wishberg by outsourcing product development to another company. As deadlines were missed repeatedly, this whole ‘founders should be coders’ effect started growing on me.

During this phase I did two things a.) started hiring our own engineering team b.) learn coding inspired by this noise. I started learning very enthusiastically to an extent that my bio read that I was learning to code. Going through multiple forums, registering on these websites, taking lessons on LAMP stack and so on. A bit of background, being a engineering student (though Mechanical) – I had some basic coding background. Few years back, I even built some basic websites, did a bit of javascripts, etc.

As we started hiring engineering talent I asked myself two questions –

  • Will I ever come up to the level of proficiency that matches our engineering team?
    No. I was no where close to them.. while I was doing ABC of coding, our team was super involved in deploying code, implementing Redis / Node.js, building scalable architecture, mobile infrastructure and so on. I didn’t want my team to tell me I suck on programming (which I knew I did anyway). More importantly, I wanted the team to focus on building our product and not spend timing teaching me code or correcting my code.
  • Will I ever hire anyone who has learned programming through online sites?
    No

I also checked with few technical founders who raised investments; few agreed that being a tech founder was probably a added advantage while raising money. But many of them also mentioned that post investment they spent more time finding product-market fit, doing business, improving their product, user experience, managing investors (many a times!) and eventually spending lesser and lesser time on coding themselves.

Eventually all startup founders end up focusing only on consumption side of product (front end user experience, improving funnels and conversion metrics) than the one under the hood. This is when I gave up my decision to learn coding and started focusing on learning design (user design and user experience) which is as core to product as technology is. I started spending more time understanding design tools, design patterns and implementing them on Wishberg. I am no where saying underlying technology, architecture, speed, and scalabilty are not important.

For online businesses, there is no doubt scarcity of good engineering talent; but there is more scarcity of product designers and even much more scarcity of product managers. Startup founders knowingly / or unknowingly start getting into product management role.

I have been a product guy for about 7 years and now feel that I should have learned design long back. Our team not just gets product documentation from me, but also product designs including all scenarios and exceptions. There is a certain clarity of thought which engineers appreciate and exactly know what is to be built – which save lot of time while shipping code / features. Every month, we look at data, un-design by removing clutter, remove additional clicks and aim to improve conversions on every step.

Geek Example – The 2012 Formula 1 Season had 12 teams of which 4 had the winning Renault RS27-2012 engine on their cars. Yet there was only one winner – The Red Bull Racing team. The original Renault team (now Lotus Renault GP) which manufactured and supplied the RS27-2012 engine to Red Bull team stood fourth in overall 2012 championship. In fact Red Bull won the championship for last 3 seasons with the Renault engine. What really mattered – the product RB8 chassis. More importantly the people driving the product, its team – drivers Sebastian Vettel & Mark Webber, Team Principal and Chief Technical Officer.

Concluding Notes:
What engine you have under the hood (technology) matters. What car / chasis the engine drives (the product) matters more. But what matters most is who is driving / leading it. Don’t get over obsessed with technology, focus on product & design.

So all those who complimented us on Wishberg‘s product design & usability… need a hint on who was the person behind it? Yours truly.

Adapting to how consumers think offline (in real world)

Driving is fun for me and a great stress-buster ever since I discovered it (discovered… stress). And throughout the day I at least check one automobile site besides being a huge follower of Team-BHP since last 2-3 years now; and amongst the portals, Carwale.

While talking with a friend who was trying to finalize a car to buy, I realized there such few instances of how differently people think and how conveniently we develop an online product.
And I checked multiple sites, screenshots below.

car-portals

Most of car portals provide users only 2 options – Select Cars by Manufacturer or Select Price Range. With some noted differentiations by Carwale & Gaadi that have tools to recommendation a car.

Just one basic flaw in this which I realized post my conversation with a friend who said it straight – “I can spend up to Rs. 12000/- per month in the EMI.”

This was exactly that I thought while I purchased my car. Wouldn’t it hold true for most of the middle-class Indians who thrive on hatchbacks and mid-size sedans as well? Over 80% of new automobile purchases in this segment are done through Car Loans paid in EMIs.

  • Could the right product approach for Indian price conscious market be this as well?
    o    Allow users option to enter the amount they can spend on EMI per month
    o    Change EMI period and Down payment and show relevant options to users.

Something like this:

emi-recommendations

The reason I like this approach is that’s the way consumers think while buying, and it also allows consumers to see more options when they stretch their budget :-)

Everyone wants to have a have a piece of German Engineering, but what they buy is different alright!
PS: Ignore my design skills.