The Yin and Yang of Product and Engineering – AVC
As the company scales the yin and yang of product and engineering often gets out of whack. What typically happens is that the engineering team scales and the engineering leader either scales with the team or hands over the job of managing engineering to a seasoned executive. But the product side often does not scale in the same way. Many founding CEOs who are also acting in the VP Product role attempt to do that job for too long. Or they bring in product managers but don't build a highly functioning product organization. And hiring a really strong VP Product is often an afterthought.
prdmgmt  engineering 
When Robots Take All of Our Jobs, Remember the Luddites | Innovation | Smithsonian
At heart, the fight was not really about technology. The Luddites were happy to use machinery—indeed, weavers had used smaller frames for decades. What galled them was the new logic of industrial capitalism, where the productivity gains from new technology enriched only the machines’ owners and weren’t shared with the workers.

The Luddites were often careful to spare employers who they felt dealt fairly. During one attack, Luddites broke into a house and destroyed four frames—but left two intact after determining that their owner hadn’t lowered wages for his weavers. (Some masters began posting signs on their machines, hoping to avoid destruction: “This Frame Is Making Full Fashioned Work, at the Full Price.”)
automation  work  ai  blog 
18 days ago
Hacking the Attention Economy
Those who produced meme-like images quickly realized that they could spread like wildfire thanks to new types of social media (as well as older tools like blogging). People began producing memes just for fun. But for a group of hacker-minded teenagers who were born a decade after I was, a new practice emerged. Rather than trying to hack the security infrastructure, they wanted to attack the emergent attention economy. They wanted to show that they could manipulate the media narrative, just to show that they could. This was happening at a moment when social media sites were skyrocketing, YouTube and blogs were challenging mainstream media, and pundits were pushing the idea that anyone could control the narrative by being their own media channel. Hell, “You” was TIME Magazine’s person of the year in 2006.
technology  society 
18 days ago
How We Use Data to Inspire Design – Design x Data – Medium
In our traditional human-centered design process, we empathize by going where people live and work. We talk with extreme users. We immerse ourselves in their lives. We explore the tension between what people say versus what they do. We prototype. As the world becomes increasingly digital, data becomes a natural byproduct of people’s lives. We’ve learned that the qualitative process we traditionally use cannot only be strengthened by this quantitative data, but can also uncover insights that qualitative data alone cannot. Quantitative data is a rich, ripe source for design research that IDEO is using (and you should too!) to get inspired by users.
triangulation  data  blog 
18 days ago
Position, Position, Position!
A product’s position is a “location” in a more abstract space — the space of trade-offs. The decisions you make about which features to build and how to integrate them places you “closer” or “further” from other products.

When you know your position, you can say “no.” When you don’t know, you say “yes” out of fear. You build a feature because you’re afraid of what will happen if you don’t. That’s not a strong place to be competitively and it’s not a coherent place to be in terms of your product design.
jtbd  blog  prdmgmt 
5 weeks ago
Turn Customer Input into Innovation
After the moderator captures a handful of these statements and adjectives, he or she translates each one into a desired outcome. A well-formatted outcome contains both the type of improvement required (minimize, increase) and a unit of measure (time, number, frequency) so that the outcome statement can be used later in benchmarking, competitive analysis, and concept evaluation. The moderator addresses one statement at a time, rephrasing it to be free from solutions—words that inherently describe specifications or constraints—or ambiguities (words such as “easy,” “reliable,” and “comfortable”). Then the moderator confirms the translations with the participants to eliminate guesswork after the interview ends.

The Cordis moderator, for instance, asked cardiologists why they wanted the device to be “easy to maneuver.” Cardiologists replied that they wanted to move quickly through tortuous vessels; the moderator then documented the outcome as “minimize the time it takes to maneuver through a winding vessel.” The moderator then asked the cardiologists to confirm that this wording accurately represented the desired outcome. Similarly, when asked to describe why they wanted a balloon to be “smooth,” cardiologists explained that they wanted to prevent it from inadvertently dissecting the vessel or from entering side vessels. The moderator then translated the desired outcomes as “minimize the risk of dissecting a vessel” and “reduce the number of side vessels that are inadvertently entered.” Again, the cardiologists confirmed these desired outcomes.
research  jtbd  wildbit_link 
9 weeks ago
The difference between a journey map and a service blueprint
What journey maps and customer narratives don’t show is the internal workings of the organization. The service blueprint seeks to uncover and document (often for the first time!) all the things that go on beneath the surface and the internal makeup of the organization that creates it. It is data visualization of how your company works; the deep, dark inner workings of how the things a customer experiences are actually produced.
There are huge complexities that go unseen that are the support structures beneath every journey — the responsibilities of the internal actors, the systems that support those actors, all the processes and policies that dictate what can and cannot be done. Service blueprinting shows you a picture that not only includes the breadth of what happens along the journey, but all the depth that makes up the substance that the journey traverses across.
journey  blueprint 
10 weeks ago
Optimize for Return Visits, not Bounce Rate
In A/B testing, don’t use bounce rate as an indicator of quality and usability. Instead, optimize for the conversions that happen lower in the funnel, and are much more closely linked to revenue or to your main business goals. Ask: how does each of the design variations contribute toward that deep-end goal? Don’t lose sight of these meaningful conversions by getting caught up in a shallow metric that happens to be easy to measure.
november 2016
How Meetup Ditched Its Boys Club
Three years later, Heiferman has transformed his leadership team. Three of the company’s seven senior executives are women, including the chief product officer and the chief technology officer. Five of Meetup’s 11 directors are women — meaning that eight of the 18 most senior executives at Meetup are women. It’s not perfect: Meetup still has a long way to go in recruiting minorities. But this new leadership has had a powerful effect on corporate culture, adding, Heiferman believes, a sense of urgency that has spurred a new direction for the company.
october 2016
The Internet of Things Is Taking Over Cities
If you want smart cities to serve public values, you have to ask questions such as: What societal problem does this technology solve (hunger, health, education)? Does the planned application, and the sharing or exploitation of data concerning it, pose ethical or inequality issues? How will this technology improve the quality of life in the city? How was the public involved in consideration of this technology? How can the technology be abandoned or changed in later years as public understanding of it changes? Public values are difficult to quantify: It’s far easier to gather and report on improvements in efficiency and economic benefits.
october 2016
Why Are So Many of Today’s Logos Wordless? - The Atlantic
Among that arsenal is what’s called “debranding” or “decorporatizing”—a strategy based on paring down that can only be deployed by the most identifiable of brands. Some marketers believe that debranding can make global brands appear “less corporate” and “more personal” to consumers. Nameless logos can evoke more personal and immediate reactions—which is important in a media environment with plenty of possible distractions and diversions. “Researchers have demonstrated that the use of visual imagery (vs. verbal imagery) in advertising increases consumers’ attention and challenges them to interpret and understand the ad’s message in a more active manner than words do,” wrote Jill J. Avery, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, in an email. “This process of interpretation or ‘elaboration’ produces a higher quantity of mental images and, in many cases, a more personalized understanding of the ad’s message.” In short, it is easier to make associations based on two bright, primary-colored balls than it is with the word MasterCard.
logo  design 
october 2016
'Calm Design' Recommended For Internet Of Things Experiences 09/22/2016
The solution is to focus on designing products and services that can exist in the periphery of consumers’ lives when not needed and only require attention and seamlessly come into the foreground when in use, according to Case.

Some current IoT offerings are not designed with the calm approach in mind and don’t provide consumers with enough value, compared to the attention they demand, according to Case.

“This technology isn’t smart; it’s just giving us incessant amounts of information,” she said.
october 2016
Why GitHub Finally Abandoned Its Bossless Workplace
Julio Avalos, who was one of the first 100 hires when he joined in 2012, says the Preston-Warner episode helped demonstrate that some problems couldn’t be solved by the masses. While the old times created a strong sense of camaraderie, employees didn’t know who to direct questions to, either about uncomfortable confrontations with colleagues or about their own performance. “Without even a minimal layer of management, it was difficult to have some of those conversations and to get people feeling like they understood what was expected of them, and that they were getting the support that they needed in order to do the best work,” says Avalos, who’s since been promoted to chief business officer, the only C-level position besides CEO.
september 2016
Shipping vs. Learning » Mike Industries
What we learned is really the key deliverable, and something potentially interesting to many people across the company. Cost to learn is a chance to optimize for and highlight efficiency, as spending a year of engineering time carries much greater opportunity costs than running some efficient, qualitative testing. Plan to proceed lets people know the outcome of the learning and how it affects the way forward. And finally, what’s needed to proceed spells out what a manager, executive, or anyone outside the core team can do to help.
prodmgmt  blog 
september 2016
Camera-phone Lucida
Instagram is a garden: curated, pruned, clean and pretty. It lets you be creative, but not too creative; communicate, but without saying too much. No embedding, no links—just photos, captions and hashtags. Elegant. Simple. Twenty-three filters. A crisp square around each frame.


Today, we look at Instagram feeds with the same level of scrutiny as the Renaissance merchants who converted their Madonnas into ducats. Only the criteria of judgment have changed. Does the user obey the unwritten laws of adult Instagram, posting less than once a day, avoiding too many shots of their face, going easy on the hashtags? (Teen Instagram rules are different, if even more stringent). How are their vacations? Do they inspire envy in a way that’s beguiling, or merely crass? Are they eating in the right places? Instagram can seem like an index of mores in the age of self-branding and self-surveillance. But even as we look and like, we often fail to see to what extent our present image-world is rooted in the past. Instagram hasn’t yet introduced much that’s new to art, or even to vision. For the most part, it recycles old tropes, which it then delivers at high speed and massive volume.


Life in the Instagram bubble requires a constant calibration of how it will be viewed from outside. That need to make life itself aesthetic, to ask, over and over “What will this look like in a square?” exerts a slow, constant pressure of its own. It can be pleasant, and it can also squeeze like a vice. At Stanford, where Instagram was born (or at least grandfathered), they have a name for it: Duck Syndrome, since, in the words of one student, “It’s where everyone on campus appears to be gliding effortlessly … but below the surface, our little duck feet are paddling furiously, working our feathered little tails off.”

How does it feel to live atop this pool? Is it worth trading the occasional dopamine rush for the feeling of constant self-surveillance? As the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska once wrote, “The window has a wonderful view of a lake but the view doesn’t view itself.” Part of the pleasure of Instagram is the way it edits out the ugly emotions that make up so much of the rest of social media. But it takes tremendous energy to live a life managed for appearances. The longer one lives in this world, the more tempting it becomes to escape, and to disappear.
instagram  socialmedia  blog 
september 2016
(Not) Shipping is a Virtue – Signal v. Noise
Every feature has hidden costs. Some are worth the cost—sometimes many times over—but others only drag your app into the red. One more thing on the screen you can click, one more option, another setting, more decisions for users to make (Kathy Sierra calls this cognitive load). Your app gets slower and customers notice it feels slower. Designers have to juggle more pieces. Development gets more complex, difficult, and time-consuming with every new piece you bolt-on. That’s a lot to ask of a feature that’s only fine.
prodmgmt  blog 
september 2016
How bad features are born - GoSquared Blog
Most importantly, does this feature deserve to exist? Why are you working on it?

If you’re embarking on a new feature primarily because you’ve seen a competitor release something similar, then you probably haven’t thoroughly considered or even identified the problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re jumping into a new feature because it seems like “it wouldn’t be too hard to do” that’s great, but does it actually deserve to be built right now?

We utilise the “Jobs To Be Done” framework extensively to focus on the problems we’re being hired to solve. This means we’re building features that form part of a logical workflow that helps our customers. We also use live chat for continuing communication with customers – we regularly ask them questions, but often they approach us requesting changes and improvements that we’re always evaluating against our own roadmap.
prodmgmt  prioritization  blog 
september 2016
Distributed UX teams: Early lessons learned – Google Design – Medium
Over-communicate. Particularly when time zones are an issue, it’s very easy for a teammate to start feeling out of the loop. Nothing wakes you up to how much work happens informally and synchronously like having distributed teammates. Group chat, and Slack are great solutions for having conversations across locations, but if some of your teammates are asleep for the majority of your working day, it’s worth considering other measures to make sure everyone is in sync.
At Google, we have an internal “snippets” tool for posting regular updates on our work, typically at a weekly cadence. Snippets serve to share the latest mock versions, research reports, study plans, hiring updates, and anything else that feels noteworthy.
To be fair, snippets are a diligence task; I’ve been on teams where these updates were neglected for months at a time. However, my far-flung teammates have been instrumental in encouraging the rest of us to share updates, as they benefit greatly from seeing them. We’ve come up with several ways of reminding ourselves to do them, through calendar appointments, shared compilations, and as a last resort, the tried-and-true email nag.
remote  blog 
september 2016
Q&A: What does a product manager do? - Inside Intercom
If you look at how actual product managers work in any company there’s a lot more nitty gritty work. There’s a lot of spreadsheets, wireframes. Google Docs, emails, and oh-so-many Slack channels. And they all exist to research, collaborate, dictate, and document consensus on a direction the product is going. But I think if the role was titled “Direction and Consensus Manager” you might not get as many applicants.
prodmgmt  blog 
august 2016
The Art of Designing With Heart – Signal v. Noise
This common sense technique helps you see the forest for the trees. If you struggle to explain something out loud, it’s probably not clear enough. That insight leads you to ask questions like…
Can we make this interface simpler or more direct?
Can we reduce or eliminate the choices someone has to make?
Are we using natural, casual language to explain things fully?
Is this design respectful of a person’s time and attention?
Is this something I would personally enjoy using?
Did we take any shortcuts that benefit US instead of THEM?
Did we make any incorrect assumptions?
Now your design will inevitably end up clearer and friendlier. That makes your customers happier and more efficient, so they can stop fiddling with software and get back to dinner with their argumentative kids.
That should be the underlying motivation for your work. Not tech, not styling, not stats, and not money. Helping people comes first. The rest follows.
design  empathy  blog 
august 2016
Forget Technical Debt — Here's How to Build Technical Wealth | First Round Review
If you want to limit your legacy code down the line, pay attention to the details that will make it easier to understand and work with in the future. Write and run unit, acceptance, approval, and integration tests. Explain your commits. Make it easy for future you (and others) to read your mind.

As it turns out, the second law of thermodynamics applies to code too: You’ll always be hurtling toward entropy. You need to constantly battle the chaos of technical debt. And legacy code is simply one type of debt you’ll accrue over time.

“Again the house metaphor applies. You have to keep putting away dishes, vacuuming, taking out the trash,” she says. “if you don’t, it’s going to get harder, until eventually you have to call in the HazMat team.”

Just like with a house, modernization and upkeep happens in two ways: small, superficial changes (“I bought a new rug!”) and big, costly investments that will pay off over time (“I guess we’ll replace the plumbing...”). You have to think about both to keep your product current and your team running smoothly.

This also requires budgeting ahead — if you don’t, those bigger purchases are going to hurt. Regular upkeep is the expected cost of home ownership. Shockingly, many companies don’t anticipate maintenance as the cost of doing business.

This is how Goulet coined the term ‘software remodeling.’ When something in your house breaks, you don’t bulldoze parts of it and rebuild from scratch. Likewise, when you have old, broken code, reaching for a re-write isn’t usually the best option.
debt  development  programming  blog 
august 2016
How Nextdoor reduced racist posts by 75% | Fusion
Some just saw the addition of new language: “Ask yourself: Is what I saw actually suspicious, especially if I take race or ethnicity out of the equation?” Some were asked to say in advance whether they were reporting an actual crime or just “suspicious activity.” Others actually had their posts scanned for mentions of race (based on a list of hundreds of terms Nextdoor came up with) and if a post did mention race, the user got an error message and was asked to submit more information about the person.
design  ux  blog 
august 2016
The Product Designer Role
Your next task is to define the product design role within your company. This is an important one to get right. You don’t want to simply recreate an internal version of the agency model. The way that products are created has changed dramatically in recent years and new models for design are a critical part of this.
blog  productdesign 
august 2016
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