Product Management – What makes a great product ?

Every now and then a product comes along that changes the way we view and do things. The product becomes a natural extension ourselves and the way we express ourselves. In most cases these products are not net new thinking (i.e. invention) but they innovate upon existing ways. In most cases if you are like me you end up thinking, Duh!! what didn’t think of that!

      Yes, I am little over analytical on matters such as that and sometimes the window opportunity goes away. But there are also times where I don’t think much and just do it, those moments sometimes payoff  but most of the time I end up saying maybe I should have gone slow. In my line of work I get to see a lot of complexity in how we build software and there are a lot of moments where we over think a problem, make the problem more problematic than it already is. After going through several discussions around this topic with folks that much more smarter than me I have narrowed them down to 3 things:

1- Product must be simple 
This to me is the golden rule. When you make your end user or client think for just the basic functions you have lost them. The immediate gut reaction is “If the basic function is so complicated, I wonder how the complicated functions are”. And once that mindset takes hold it is a uphill task to regain any lost ground.  I am not saying that you make your product idiot proof, because that would be wrong and painting everyone with the same broad brush. There can be features that require some advance thinking but those things are not features that everyone uses everyday i.e. the HotSpot  feature on Smart phones, how many people truly know how to use that?

2- Product must understandable 
To this day I have not figured out what was the purpose of the scroll lock key on a keyboard and why is it so important to keep the key on a standard keyboard in the first place? When you don’t make products understandable for basic functions, it makes the end user feel like the product is talking down to them and somehow questioning their intelligence. Don’t do that, you might start alienating people without even knowing it.

3- Product must be complete
Last point is when you think of the basic function or whatever basic scenario you are delivering. Make it complete. A great example of a complete product is a power utility company, when you have electricity the only thing you worry about is flicking the switch and the power comes on.  You don’t even think about how the power gets transmitted to your home. That is a complete product and definitely miss it when it not there because it has become such an integral part of your life

These are just some of my musing on how a product or service ought be delivered. There are several great examples of these ideas in the market place today. Just think of them if these products did not have these capabilities would you have incorporated them into your daily lives.

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