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Product Management & Design At Startups

Talk at IxDASF (Interaction Design Association of San Francisco) on the role of product managers and designers at startups.

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Product Management & Design At Startups

  1. 1. Product Management & Design at Startups   Dan Olsen CEO, YourVersion Feb 11, 2010 Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  2. 2. My Background Education BS, Electrical Engineering, Northwestern MS, Industrial Engineering, Virginia Tech MBA, Stanford UI design, XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL 18 years of High‐tech Product Experience Managed submarine design for 5 years 5 years at Intuit, led Quicken Product Management Led Product Management at Friendster Olsen Solutions LLC, PM consultant for startups CEO & Founder of YourVersion, real‐time discovery startup Speaker: Web 2.0 Expo, Startonomics, FB fund, Stanford Will post slides to Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  3. 3. What’s the Goal of a Startup? Poll: raise your hand if you’re a… PM, Designer, Developer startup, mature company, agency Deliver a product that: Meets customers’ needs Is better than other alternatives Is easy to use Has a good value/price Acquire and retain customers Generate enough revenue to cover costs Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  4. 4. Whose Job Is It? (PM or Designer) Understand customers’ needs Research competitive products Ensure our product is better than rest Ensure our product is easy to use Ensure our product is aesthetically pleasing Define product strategy Business success (revenue) User acquisition (marketing) Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  5. 5. Key Roles and Interactions Prospective Existing Customers Customers External Marketing Listening to customers Product  UI Interface Management Design Support Engineering QA Internal Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  6. 6. The Design Gap at Most Startups Level Define Design Code 1 Engineering 2 Product Mgmt big gap Engineering 3 Product Mgmt gap Engineering Product Mgmt gap Engineering 4 PM Eng UI 5 PM Eng Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  7. 7. The UI Design Iceberg What most people see and react to Visual Design What good PMs and Designers Interaction think about Design Information Architecture Conceptual Design Recommended reading: Jesse James Garrett’s “Elements of User Experience” chart, free at Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  8. 8. Elements of User Interface Design Information Architecture Structure and layout at both site and page level How site is structured (sitemap) How site information is organized (site layout) How each page is organized (page layout) Interaction Design How user and product interact with one another User flows (e.g., navigation across multiple pages) User input (e.g., controls and form design) Visual Design “How it looks” vs. “What it is”, often called “chrome” Typography, colors, graphical elements Usability testing (Ramen Usability: see my fbFund talk) Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  9. 9. Product Management’s Job: Understand customer  Prioritize and plan  needs product ideas to  Ensure the product  maximize ROI on  meets customer needs engineering resources Ensure the product is  Work with marketing  better than the rest on user acquisition Work with team to  Ensure the product is  design & build great  meeting business  product objectives Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  10. 10. Problem Space vs. Solution Space Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  11. 11. Problem Space vs. Solution Space Problem Space Solution Space A customer problem,  A specific  need, or benefit that the  implementation to  product should address address the need or  A product requirement product requirement Example: Ability to write in space  NASA: space pen (zero gravity) ($1 M R&D cost) Russians: pencil Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  12. 12. Problem Space vs. Solution Space Product Level Problem Space Solution Space (user benefit) (product) Pen and Prepare paper my taxes TurboTax File my taxes TaxCut Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  13. 13. Problem Space vs. Solution Space Feature Level Problem Space Solution Space (user benefit) (feature) Gmail Make it easy importer to share a link with my friends Design Design Design #1 #2 #3 Preview with  User can edit  Allow me to Design checkboxes before import reuse my email #1 No No contacts #2 Yes No #3 Yes Yes Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  14. 14. Picking a Product Vector & Iterating Problem Space Solution Space Help user Help user book travel plan travel Mockups / Code Feedback Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  15. 15. PM=Problem Space, Design=Solution Space Product management’s primary job is to define the  problem space “The user problem we’re trying to address is x” “If we build a product that does y, people will pay us z dollars” Design’s primary job is to explore the solution space (before coding begins) “Here are 3 different approaches to solving the problem” Rapid wireframes/prototypes Each can help the other By working together, they try to identify the best  solution to the problem Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  16. 16. What about Engineering? Engineering’s primary job is also solution space Design: specify how it should look & behave Engineering: build it Functionality to enable desired behavior Implementation of visual design (HTML & CSS) Database and architectural design Engineering should be involved early (vs throwing it over the fence) Mockup cycles are cheaper than coding cycles Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  17. 17. Which is More Valuable to a Startup? Specialist or generalist? Lots to do + limited resources = many hats Many designers are specialized Many product managers are generalists If time demand < 1 FTE = project, not a job For startups, have a broad skillset Acquiring Copy Metrics Product Spec User Wireframes Mockups HTML Java‐ users writing planning writing research & flowcharts (visual & CSS script (IA & ID) design) Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  18. 18. Case Study: Rapid Product Validation  through PM/Designer Collaboration My consulting client, CEO of TrustedID,  had an idea for a new product Team: me, CEO, head of marketing, UI  design consultant 4 weeks from 1st meeting to validated  product concept Paid prospective users $1,500 ($75 x 20) 1 round of iteration on product concept Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  19. 19. Case Study: Product Validation Developing Product Concept Product Concept was a “marketing report” that  let consumers more directly control the direct  marketing mail that they receive Concept was fuzzy with various components, so  we broke it into 2 different “flavors”: #1 “Shield”: Service to reduce/stop junk mail #2 “Saver”: Opt in to receive money‐saving offers Within each concept, got feedback on modules that  mapped to a specific user benefit Worked with UI designer created paper mockups  of pages for each concept (5 pages each) Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  20. 20. Clustering Potential User Benefits to  Create Product Concepts “Shield” Concept “Saver” Concept Reduce Find out what Money Compare Social Junk Mail “they” know Saving Yourself Networking about you Offers to Others Save Marketing Trees Report Marketing Marketing Score Profile Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  21. 21. Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  22. 22. Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  23. 23. Case Study: Product Validation Recruiting People Telephone recruit of prospective customers Wrote screener using intuition for psychographic  segmentation Wanted users who work full‐time & use internet Fit for opt‐in concept: use coupons, Costco membership Fit for anti‐junk mail concept: use paper shredder, block  caller ID Recruiters used screener to recruit Scheduled 3 groups of 3 people to discuss each  concept for 90 minutes Moderated each group through the paper  mockups to hear their feedback Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  24. 24. Case Study: Product Validation Findings on Concepts &User Benefits “Shield” Concept “Saver” Concept Reduce Find out what Money Compare Social Junk Mail “they” know Saving Yourself Networking about you Offers to Others Save Marketing Trees Report Legend Marketing Marketing Score Profile Strong appeal Somewhat positive Low appeal Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  25. 25. Case Study: Product Validation Learnings from Research Learned that “Shield” (anti‐junk mail) concept was  stronger than “Saver” People didn’t like many of the “Saver” concept  components Learned users’ concerns / questions about “Shield” concept Refined “Shield” concept: Removed irrelevant components Improved messaging to address user concerns / questions Validated revised “Shield” concept with quick 2nd round of tests No customer concerns Clear willingness to pay Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  26. 26. Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  27. 27. Case Study: Product Validation Summary 4 weeks from 1st meeting to validated  product concept Cost $1,500 to talk with 20 users ($75  each) 1 round of iteration on product concept Identified winning concept that users are  willing to pay $10/month for Trimmed away non‐valuable pieces You can achieve similar results Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  28. 28. PM & Design at Startups Cheat Sheet Adding a PM or Designer is beneficial, nice to have both Mockup cycles are faster & cheaper than code Product Manager: Problem space: product strategy & requirements Scoping, prioritization, business goals, marketing Designer: Solution space: wireframes, mockups, IA, ID, visual design Both: Listen to customers Product Metrics Help engineering build a product great that meets user needs,  is differentiated, and is easy to use Startups value generalists more than specialists Copyright © 2010 YourVersion
  29. 29. PM & Design The Dynamic Duo @danolsen Copyright © 2010 YourVersion

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Talk at IxDASF (Interaction Design Association of San Francisco) on the role of product managers and designers at startups.


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