Prioritised Fireside Chat: Make better product decisions with JTBD

In this Fireside Chat for Prioritised members, product author and coach, Joe Leech and our Managing Director, Emily Tate explore how the Jobs to be Done (JTBD) toolkit can be used to make better product decisions. Watch the entire session in full or read on for the key points and tips including: JTBD for start-ups [...] Read more »

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Building a new Social Future by Aditya Mukherjee

Customer centricity is a core value at Indian social startup Hike, its senior product manager Aditya Mukherjee relates in this talk to ProductTank Delhi, which looks to examine why customer centricity is difficult to crack. The main driver at Hike, he says, is as follows: in a world that has evolved tremendously in the last [...]

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Product Accountability – Appraise Products Like a Manager

Performance reviews, evaluations, or appraisals are awful, and we need more of them. it’s time to recognize the need for Product teams to evaluate themselves based on the performance reviews of their products. This is meant to establish the mindset that in order to evaluate a Product Manager’s and Product Team’s performance it’s not about [...]

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Jobs to be Done by Joe Leech

In this MTP Engage Manchester talk, using a simple example, Joe Leech demonstrates how we can employ the “Jobs to be done” framework, deconstructing company outputs and examining the importance of user stories.

Key Points:

  1. Evaluate the competitive space
  2. Don’t just think function – emotional and social job stories are significant
  3. You can’t rely on users to do your selling
  4. The hole is not the goal

Joe explains how he had a Job to be Done – he needed to hang a picture, therefore, he needed a drill. He started by looking up drills, reading specifications he didn’t understand; asking questions like “how many torque settings” and “what’s a torque setting?”. It didn’t take him long to realise that he didn’t want a drill at all.

While choosing a drill he recounted the popular adage: “People don’t want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole” and then dismissed it. “Nobody needs a hole” he explains, but what he wanted was a picture on the wall – “the hole is not the goal,” he tells us.

JOe Leech at MTP EngageJoe explains how, as a former “UX guy, now a product guy” he coaches teams to think in this way, helping them make decisions, interrogating what the user thinks they want (or what the company thinks the user thinks they want), to uncover the true needs. He helps companies “do the right things, in the right order, for the right reasons” and in order to do that you need to know your users and your competition.

Uncover your Competition

Joe describes a time when the Jobs to be Done framework was employed to the benefit of MoMA (Museum of modern art). They had a requirement to attract New Yorkers to the New York museum. Joe’s first question was: “who are your competitors?”.

To which they starting listing similar attractions:

  • The Met
  • The theatre
  • The ballet
  • The Tate in London

It was clear, as with many businesses, that we don’t always know exactly who the competition is. And even when we do one day, we can be wrong the next, and our users may have something totally different in mind. So Joe went out and asked real users about the Job to be Done – who’s competing for your time? What else would you be doing on a Friday night? The answer – Netflix.

That’s right, every Friday MoMA and Netflix go head to head. Sometimes it’s a different competitor, sometimes they win, but importantly, they are always in competition. It’s true for your business too, regardless of how secure you feel in your industry, you are always competing.

You can start employing the Jobs to be Done framework today and uncover your competition, but first, you need to tailor your user stories.

Consider Your User

Joe explains how the average power drill is used between six and 20 minutes in its lifetime…that’s a failure of the product. A consumer is presented with an opportunity for self-betterment – a chance to evolve and grow – and what they buy doesn’t meet that requirement, meaning they’re consuming but not satisfied.

This case is what Joe calls “the little hire”. Apps have the same problem, he explains, with 25% of downloaded apps being only used once, while most are built to satisfy more than a one-off Job to be Done. It’s a prevalent characteristic of startups which will offer a one-time purchase, providing only a short term fix. And while that’s fine for cashflow, it shows a lack of foresight and may leave customers only temporarily satisfied. You’ve presented your user with a hole.

Joe identifies the different kinds of jobs we can use to create a rich user story, allowing us to better sell, market, design and build our products:

Functional jobs

This is simply the goal your user wishes to achieve. In Joe’s case, he wanted to put up a picture, straight not crooked, and he wanted the room to look nice. In product, we often take functional jobs as our full user stories, because they’re the essence of the requirement, and we may prioritise speed and efficiency of function over all else.

Emotional and social jobs

These are based on how the user wants to feel/be perceived while completing their job.

Joe wanted to feel capable and confident in his abilities (even with no formal skills) and feel safe knowing his picture wasn’t going to fall down in a week. An emotional or social job can inform how complex you make something. It’s the part of the story that makes you consider, is this user-friendly? Will my user come back to use this again?

Joe leech at MTP Engage ManchesterJoe highlights the importance of being user-focussed, describing how you shouldn’t just look at competitors and features, obsessing over what everyone else is doing and copying it, instead, focus on your users and their needs.

In the end, he bought Unibond (plastic adhesive strips), to put up his picture. It wasn’t trying to be a drill, it didn’t come with 230 screws, it just put up pictures.

Evaluating the Competitive Space

Once you understand what your product does and how it can help your users you can start to analyze your competitive space, approaching it with intention.

Joe describes that you need to look at several factors when evaluating your product’s position. Ask your users and yourself:

  1. What’s happening now?
  2. What’s the latest solution?
  3. What is the perceived risk that it might fail?
  4. What attachments to traditional solutions exist?

Map your product as well as your competitors, consider whether you’re the new way and need to break attachments and reduce perceived risk, or to strengthen your position with loyal users and combat new competitors. What’s important is that you know how to compete and more importantly, that you uncover the hidden needs of your users.

The World of Whitegoods

Lastly, Joe describes the front room of a whitegoods store as a place that is designed with an awareness of job stories. The room layout is made up of fridges at the front, surrounded by space, with washing machines piled high at the back, barely in sight.

Joe explains how the fridge is often the centrepiece of the kitchen taking on many jobs:

  • A communication centre – holding vouchers, tickets, telephone numbers
  • A toy – covered in magnets or stickers
  • A gallery – with pictures and collages stuck to the sides
  • A visual element – a crisp clean aesthetic piece

What’s clear is a fridge has emotional and social jobs to perform, while a washing machine is function; you buy one when it’s broken down, you need to know the size and you want to know it works, you don’t care how it looks.

Looking at the John Lewis website, Joe identifies how all whitegoods are sold in the same way – a front-on picture. It’s plain and most of the screen is given to the specs. Joe scrolls past the fridge, straight to the reviews and sees one user describes how the product “looks beautiful”. The user is selling; they’re highlighting the product’s ability to meet their Job to be Done, even if the website isn’t marketing effectively.

JOe Leech on the MTP ENgage stage

What this illustrates, is how we should all look closer at the products we’re selling because however similar they appear, even if functionally different, they might be performing incredibly different emotional and social jobs. With that knowledge, we can consider how to promote, sell, ship and design those products. Jobs to be Done is getting businesses on board with user-centred focus, moving from output to outcome, identifying competitors through their users and then evaluating and targeting their competitive space.

The post Jobs to be Done by Joe Leech appeared first on Mind the Product.

The Product People We Want to Be – What We Learned at MTP Engage

This week (6-7 February), MTP Engage Manchester 2020 saw over 500 product people descend upon the iconic Manchester Central to immerse themselves in two days of product learning.

On Thursday, things kicked off with a range of deep-dive workshops and leadership discussions, followed by the conference on Friday. Let’s take a look at some of the many things we learned throughout the conference day.

Adam Warburton at MTP Engage
There was a sigh of relief in the audience when it was revealed that all MTP Engage 2020 bananas had their tops on

In the morning, organiser Adam Warburton welcomed the audience to the auditorium with a quick retro of last year, satisfying the requirement of more amazing speakers, bananas with the tops attached (don’t ask!), no rain (total fluke) and a promise that this year’s event was not a Minimal Viable Conference. He then introduced the first of many incredible speakers.

MTP Engage Manchester
An eager audience settled into the day enjoying a fab talk from Janna Bastow

Define your debt vocabulary

Janna Bastow led the day’s keynotes by addressing the elephant in the room; debt. She identified how in tech, debt is both inevitable and necessary, whether related to development, design, process, admin, or culture. Drawing on her experience as a product innovator, she highlighted how trust is essential when accruing debt, and how, in order to build trust, we must work together to define new vocabulary. Talking, sharing and unpicking debt, she explained, will allow us to optimise it.

Janna Bastow at MTP ENgage
Janna Bastow kicked off proceedings with the first keynote of the day

Embrace the beautiful mess

Next to the stage was John Cutler who reassured us that “product is difficult everywhere” and that, in product, there is simply is no magic way to do things. As a Product Evangelist, John is often asked to pathologize product and find the secret of success. He highlighted how in order to succeed, we must embrace the beautiful mess and navigate change – it’s discontinuous and never a straight line, he explained. Instead, and in order to adopt change, you must take an idea (a possible magical solution), customise it to your context, progress it and adapt it before practising it. Then you need to get good at practising practice.

JOhn Cultler at MTP ENgage
John explained that product is difficult everywhere – there’s no magic solution…stop looking! (Image www.thisisdecoy.co.uk )

More jobs to be done

Joe Leech demonstrated how we can employ the “Jobs to be done” framework, deconstructing company outputs and examining the importance of user stories. He illustrated how seemingly similar products can have incredibly disparate requirements, and how, with a focus on functional jobs, we so often ignore the nuance of emotional and social job stories. These considerations, he emphasised, allow us to uncover “hidden user needs”.

Product management is people management

After missing her 6.16 am train from London to Manchester by just one minute, Mind the Product’s Chief of Staff, Emily Tate’s day got off to a slightly stressful start. Arriving in Manchester a fraction behind schedule, the surprises kept coming as she discovered she’d be hitting the stage a few hours later to take up the slot of Lauren Currie who had sadly lost her voice and was unable to speak (literally, not a whisper left!).

In her talk, Emily described how having a strong knowledge of stakeholder management can be the difference between being a good product manager and a great one. She explained how her biggest promoter once became her biggest detractor and discussed how transparency – a tool at times discouraged – is key to building stakeholder trust. While you may choose to use it tactfully, delaying a hard truth, you should always be mindful that product is a team sport. As such, encourage communication early and often, while letting data inform decisions and never shy away from taking full ownership of your work. Product people are best when they work with an awareness that one of their products is their process.

Emily Tate gave an inspiring talk on stakeholder management

Unlearning conflict aversion

Shaun Russell identified how from an early age we learn to avoid conflict at all costs. But whether your stakeholder is “the worst customer you have ever had”, or just an interested party, product people need to defy nature and lean into conflict. He explained that if you willingly adopt “Conflict Anti-Patterns”, taking roles such as the mediator, the intellectual, and the deviant, you will start to heighten risk and build unusable, infeasible and unviable products. Using reasoning, communication, and self-reflection to better our processes, we can now divide our interests. Because, how you divide the world is how you see the world.

Shaun Russell at MTP Engage Manchester
Shaun Russell explained how reasoning, communication, and self-reflection help to better our processes

The future of the industry is in your hands

Melissa Perri ended the day by offering a masterclass in career growth, defining the journey from product manager to product leader. The criteria, she explained, relies not just on navigating a transition from tactical and strategic roles to a more operational one, but also owning a deep understanding of the details and dynamics – skills you can start developing today.

It’s time to consider your journey, she told us – it’s unique, and now you can choose the best path based on your skillset. The right role for you will make you happy, confident, and kick-ass, whether it’s the role of the Enterprise CPO, the Startup VP, or the Scaleup CPO.

Melissa Perri at MTP ENgage
Melissa Perri treated the audience to her first new talk in three years (she’s been a little busy, you know…writing a book)

Sessions of Success

Away from the auditorium, 15 awesome sessions speakers on two tracks delivered engaging and thought-provoking talks to packed session rooms.

Huge congratulations must go out Oluwatobi Otokiti, Sally Brogan and Stewart Livingstone who took to the MTP stage for the very first time with great success, and, to all of our other session speakers who brought us not just a little, but a lot of everything.

Oluwatobi Otokiti
Oluwatobi Otokiti made her MTP Engage debut (Image www.thisisdecoy.co.uk )

Rakhi Rajani discussed how to create cognitively diverse teams while Itamar Gilad talked us through the GIST (Goals, Ideas, Steps, Tasks) Framework and how to use it to improve team morale and deliver better products.

Thor Mitchell painted us a picture of a great product manager, explaining that it starts with says that humility, while Rachael Shah drew from her experience at the Co-op to illustrate just how critical it is to think carefully about scaling the product team as well as the product.

Connection

Between talks, people took heed of Adam’s advice from the start of the day – to connect with each other, be it over coffee, during a Speed Networking session or simply while sat in the audience waiting for talks to begin.

“I would urge you to talk to as many people as you can today because, in this room, there is someone we can all learn from, perhaps even someone who could change your life,”  said Adam. ” It might be your next manager, a coworker or someone you can connect with outside of work.”

Speed Networking at MTPEngage
Attendees embraced the opportunity to network in our Speed Networking sessions

Until next year

It’s fair to say that everyone had a lot to take away from MTP Engage this year, and after all that learning, sharing and connecting it was vital that attendees, sponsors, speakers, volunteers and our awesome local organisers deserved a well-earned after party!

We’d like to thank everyone who made this conference possible including our sponsors, Yellowfin, Amplitude, ProdPad, Balsamiq, Code and Pendo, without whom, it would simply not have been possible.

Write-ups of the keynote and session speaker talks will become available on the site in the coming weeks. We also look forward to hearing what you thought of MTP Engage (you can send your own write-ups to editor@mindtheproduct.com) and hope you’ll agree that it feels as though our product community has never been stronger.

The post The Product People We Want to Be – What We Learned at MTP Engage appeared first on Mind the Product.

Practical Insights and Guidance at #mtpcon London Workshops

Product people descended upon central London this morning for a series of Mind the Product training workshops, kicking off #mtpcon ahead of tomorrow’s conference.

More than 400 conference attendees were up bright and early to join one of 14 workshops covering a range of topics from user research and stakeholder management to product roadmapping and OKRs for product teams.

From the 14 workshops there was plenty to take away. Here’s a very quick snapshot of three of them, led by Julia Whitney, Joe Leech, and Frank Qiu.

Managing Stakeholders

Leadership coach Julia Whitney offered practical advice and tools to help with a challenge faced by most, if not all, product managers – stakeholder management.

Engaging the group from the outset, Julia asked attendees to think about who, in their organisations, they’d consider to be stakeholders. She then asked how, on a scale of 1-10, they would rate stakeholder management within their organisation.

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The majority of the group scored their organisations between 5 and 6. They identified recurring challenges to be such things as top-down micro management, communication with stakeholders from different countries and cultures, and lack of control.

This last challenge struck a chord with a number of people. Julia explained: “Not having control is an issue shared by most product managers. It’s an issue because we’re so interdependent on our teams and stakeholders. It can be very frustrating.”

The workshop also involved group work and self reflection to equip attendees with the practical tools needed to address their challenges, and to turn their relationships with stakeholders into productive and rewarding parts of their role.

Jobs to be Done

Drawing on his experience at organisations like MoneySuperMarket, eBay, Disney, Marriott, and many startups, Joe Leech’s workshop offered a practical, hands-on way to understand how to make the right product choices based on user needs.

He did this using Jobs to be Done – a framework, as Joe describes it, “containing the processes and tools to understand user needs and plan innovative products and product features to meet those user needs”.

In order to help them to go on to design the right things in the right order, and for the right reasons, Joe asked workshop attendees to think about the emotional, social, and functional elements of their products and why they should care about them.

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Using examples, including MoMA, No More Nails and even smoking, Joe quickly helped the group to answer this question and explained how and why they should be running user research to uncover the Jobs to be Done for their products.

Each attendee left the workshop able to:

  • Uncover the Jobs to be Done, map them to their product and understand where there is unmet user need
  • Advocate and evidence product changes across the organisation, from C-level executives to marketing
  • Design the right thing in the right order for the right reasons
  • Put Jobs to be Done into practice

OKRs for Product Teams

One door down, Frank Qiu, explained how to implement and use OKRs in a product team effectively, as it’s done in the very best-performing product cultures.

He began by explaining how to define effective OKRs, set them annually and how to break them down quarterly.

With those foundations set, the group was split into six and challenged to set three objectives for a specific example. Each team’s objectives were then presented, discussed, and challenged.

Frank Qiu’s group digs into OKRs

This quickly demonstrated that objective setting is purely the start of the process. With discussion, objectives can be refined and strengthened.

“Setting objectives is not something you can do in five minutes,” Frank explained. “You will need to make adjustments, to redefine and recalibrate, and you want your objectives the objectives you set to be aggressive but realistic.”

The work led to questions such as:

  • What if we can’t measure the most important things?
  • What if we miss our targets?
  • What if our outputs don’t generate the outcomes we wanted?
  • Can we adapt our OKRs?

By creating and developing OKRs throughout a simulated year-in-the-life of a product team, attendees learned how to handle things that go wrong, how to adjust course, and how to manage expectations.

What if you Weren’t There?

If you missed today’s #mtpcon workshops, fear not! Through Mind the Product Training you can access the insight of expert product managers (our trainers) through in-depth, interactive training workshops. We offer worldwide training, with public workshops for out-of-the-box topics, and our in-house training provides the opportunity to develop a curriculum to meet your specific needs.

For more updates, follow all of the conference action on Twitter using #mtpcon.

The post Practical Insights and Guidance at #mtpcon London Workshops appeared first on Mind the Product.

5 essential onboarding tactics for complex products

The ideal onboarding experience is an easy and frictionless path to finding value.

Consumer products perfected this by building onboarding experiences with maniacal focus on a single metric: Facebook’s 7-friends-in-10-days, or Pinterest’s 1rc7 (percentage of new signups that repinned a pin or clicked on a pin in the week following signup).

But some products include irreducible complexity. When it comes to software for businesses, users often have to install the software, invite their team or message their customers. All of these are high consequence actions that deserve care and thought, if not review and approval.

There are techniques that help to create the magic of a consumer onboarding flow in a complex product with considered actions. Here are five.

1: Provide immediate utility (or demonstrate it as realistically as you can)

For many complex products, the path to experiencing value requires designing customer messaging, onboarding a team, or installing software. These are high consequence actions, and a significant ask for a new user with little trust in your company.

To combat a long path to value, find ways to clearly demonstrate how you deliver on your promises. An effective demonstration of value is specific to the user, as close as possible to the final product. If your product is a widget on the user’s website, let them configure the widget on a mock-up of their website, instead of a sterile settings page.

many great image

For instance, Airbnb makes benefits tangible by showing prospective hosts a specific, location-based estimate of how much they can earn.

2: Organize your flow based on value, not technology

A common mistake companies make with onboarding flows is creating a tour of every feature your product teams have built. Brand new users are still evaluating your product, so your onboarding flow needs to be a compelling demonstration of how your product solves their problems.

It’s unlikely that your UI is organized in this way: features and screens in your product don’t tend to map neatly to user benefits. While it’s important to explain the hierarchy and organization of your product, it’s irrelevant if customers don’t complete your onboarding process. The ordering of steps in your onboarding flow should be based around the problems that your product solves, not simply which screens are adjacent in your Settings page.

many great image

We can see here how Turbotax asks you what’s important and aligns their flow to benefits.

3: Motivate users through the process by linking tasks to benefits

In any process of adopting something new, all tasks are subject to anxiety and inertia, as well as the noise and distractions of day-to-day work.

Templates, smart defaults and quality UX can reduce friction, but many tasks in the process of onboarding to a complex product are simply hard work. To keep users moving forward with your process, make sure the specific benefit of each task is clear.

Benefits are good (do this to get that) but even better are hard claims (15 minutes could save you 15% or more), or short testimonials that provide social proof. Each of these help to motivate new users to overcome inertia and anxiety and move one step closer to activation.

many great image

LinkedIn keeps their job database current by encouraging me to “strengthen my profile” so “people can find and connect with me”. Here, the microcopy explains the benefit to me of confirming my current title, rather than framing it in product-centric terms (e.g “Update your title”).

4: Reassure and come back to high-anxiety tasks

If your product is used in a business setting, it’s likely that at some point it will involve a highly visible step, such as inviting colleagues, or taking an action that affects customers. These steps are anxiety-inducing and in larger companies can involve internal review and QA.

In onboarding, delay is the enemy of success. You don’t want customers getting stuck trying to compose the perfect email during their first use experience, you just want them to be aware that this feature exists. So for potentially sticky tasks, explicitly let customers know that it’s okay to skip a task as they can always come back to it later. Or build in a way to reduce their anxiety.

many great image

The example above shows how Basecamp strikes a balance between enabling new users to invite colleagues, but reassuring them that they can also do it later.

5: Guide customers through non-product tasks too

Your onboarding process should help new users to snappily complete simple set up tasks, but allow them to tackle longer or more complex tasks (ie. creating content, installing software etc.) at their own pace. A great onboarding process guides customers through these non-button-clicking steps as well, for example using content that helps customers write a great email, or providing a QA checklist for installing a website widget. Doing this support ensures that your customers don’t get stuck on some of the hardest parts of the process.

If you map the customer journey for your product, you’ll likely see that the process involves a number of steps that happen outside of your product. For an email product, users need to figure out what to write and who to send it to. Any team workflow product involves actually getting those teammates to use the product (and ensuring they also understand why they should sign up).

many great image

In the example above, we can see how MailChimp provides a subtle ‘Send a test email’ when a campaign is ready to send, enabling users who want to double-check their work the ability to do so – and then move forward.

Great onboarding proves to new users how your product does their job

Great onboarding flows are more than a checklist or a chronological walkthrough of your product. They should be designed to lead your brand new users to value as soon as possible, by demonstrating how your product helps them achieve their job to be done. And as your business grows and adds new features and types of customers, your onboarding flow will need to adapt with it – both adding new core features and removing those that become less critical over time. As my colleague Ruairi puts it, “you’ll never be finished working on onboarding.”


The post 5 essential onboarding tactics for complex products appeared first on Inside Intercom.

Five essential onboarding tactics for complex products

The ideal onboarding experience is an easy and frictionless path to finding value.

Consumer products perfected this by building onboarding experiences with maniacal focus on a single metric: Facebook’s 7-friends-in-10-days, or Pinterest’s 1rc7 (percentage of new signups that repinned a pin or clicked on a pin in the week following signup).

But some products include irreducible complexity. When it comes to software for businesses, users often have to install the software, invite their team or message their customers. All of these are high consequence actions that deserve care and thought, if not review and approval.

There are techniques that help to create the magic of a consumer onboarding flow in a complex product with considered actions. Here are five.

1: Provide immediate utility (or demonstrate it as realistically as you can)

For many complex products, the path to experiencing value requires designing customer messaging, onboarding a team, or installing software. These are high consequence actions, and a significant ask for a new user with little trust in your company.

To combat a long path to value, find ways to clearly demonstrate how you deliver on your promises. An effective demonstration of value is specific to the user, as close as possible to the final product. If your product is a widget on the user’s website, let them configure the widget on a mock-up of their website, instead of a sterile settings page.

many great image

For instance, Airbnb makes benefits tangible by showing prospective hosts a specific, location-based estimate of how much they can earn.

2: Organize your flow based on value, not technology

A common mistake companies make with onboarding flows is creating a tour of every feature your product teams have built. Brand new users are still evaluating your product, so your onboarding flow needs to be a compelling demonstration of how your product solves their problems.

It’s unlikely that your UI is organized in this way: features and screens in your product don’t tend to map neatly to user benefits. While it’s important to explain the hierarchy and organization of your product, it’s irrelevant if customers don’t complete your onboarding process. The ordering of steps in your onboarding flow should be based around the problems that your product solves, not simply which screens are adjacent in your Settings page.

many great image

We can see here how Turbotax asks you what’s important and aligns their flow to benefits.

3: Motivate users through the process by linking tasks to benefits

In any process of adopting something new, all tasks are subject to anxiety and inertia, as well as the noise and distractions of day-to-day work.

Templates, smart defaults and quality UX can reduce friction, but many tasks in the process of onboarding to a complex product are simply hard work. To keep users moving forward with your process, make sure the specific benefit of each task is clear.

Benefits are good (do this to get that) but even better are hard claims (15 minutes could save you 15% or more), or short testimonials that provide social proof. Each of these help to motivate new users to overcome inertia and anxiety and move one step closer to activation.

many great image

LinkedIn keeps their job database current by encouraging me to “strengthen my profile” so “people can find and connect with me”. Here, the microcopy explains the benefit to me of confirming my current title, rather than framing it in product-centric terms (e.g “Update your title”).

4: Reassure and come back to high-anxiety tasks

If your product is used in a business setting, it’s likely that at some point it will involve a highly visible step, such as inviting colleagues, or taking an action that affects customers. These steps are anxiety-inducing and in larger companies can involve internal review and QA.

In onboarding, delay is the enemy of success. You don’t want customers getting stuck trying to compose the perfect email during their first use experience, you just want them to be aware that this feature exists. So for potentially sticky tasks, explicitly let customers know that it’s okay to skip a task as they can always come back to it later. Or build in a way to reduce their anxiety.

many great image

The example above shows how Basecamp strikes a balance between enabling new users to invite colleagues, but reassuring them that they can also do it later.

many great image

In the example above, we can see how MailChimp provides a subtle ‘Send a test email’ when a campaign is ready to send, enabling users who want to double-check their work the ability to do so – and then move forward.

5: Guide customers through non-product tasks too

Your onboarding process should help new users to snappily complete simple set up tasks, but allow them to tackle longer or more complex tasks (ie. creating content, installing software etc.) at their own pace. A great onboarding process guides customers through these non-button-clicking steps as well, for example using content that helps customers write a great email, or providing a QA checklist for installing a website widget. Doing this support ensures that your customers don’t get stuck on some of the hardest parts of the process.

If you map the customer journey for your product, you’ll likely see that the process involves a number of steps that happen outside of your product. For an email product, users need to figure out what to write and who to send it to. Any team workflow product involves actually getting those teammates to use the product (and ensuring they also understand why they should sign up).

Great onboarding proves to new users how your product does their job

Great onboarding flows are more than a checklist or a chronological walkthrough of your product. They should be designed to lead your brand new users to value as soon as possible, by demonstrating how your product helps them achieve their job to be done. And as your business grows and adds new features and types of customers, your onboarding flow will need to adapt with it – both adding new core features and removing those that become less critical over time. As my colleague Ruairi puts it, “you’ll never be finished working on onboarding.”


Intercom on Onboarding

The post Five essential onboarding tactics for complex products appeared first on Inside Intercom.

Making things people want

The problems people encounter in their lives rarely change from generation to generation. The products they hire to solve these problems change all the time.

If you’re building a new product, it’s because you believe you can create a better solution that people will want to use because it delivers a better outcome. A strong understanding of the outcome customers want, and how they currently get it, is essential for you to succeed in product development.

Focusing on outcome … lets you understand your real competitors

Maybe your customers want to be entertained, or spend more time with their friends, or understand what projects teammates are working on, or maybe they want to project growth for their business. If the desired outcome is real then they are already achieving it through some product in some way. Your job is to improve upon that.

Sidenote: If you can’t find what product they’re currently using, the chances are that it’s a fictitious outcome (“Wouldn’t it be cool if…”) or an aspirational one (“Of course I want to lose weight”). Espoused behavior never reflects reality.

Focusing on outcome, rather than category, industry or product type, lets you understand your real competitors. The second a company focuses on “the industry it’s in” rather than the “outcome it delivers”, it loses touch, and shortly after, loses customers.
People want to pass messages discreetly
Newspapers, for example, believed they were in the “Newspaper Industry”, and as such struggled to work out why bored commuters had stopped buying their product. They would look left and right at their competitors and wonder which newspaper had stolen their customers. They would experiment with new formats, new layouts, lower prices, sharper headlines, but they couldn’t stop the rot. Had they instead focused on the outcome they deliver (bored commuters want to be entertained for short bursts of time with bite-sized articles), then their competitors (Twitter, Facebook, news apps) wouldn’t have been so oblique to them.

What people want

Let’s look at some jobs that, like boredom during a commute, have stuck around for years, through hundreds of technological advances.

People wanted to pass notes and messages, without fear of other people seeing them…

People want to pass messages discreetly

People still want this

people still want to pass messages discreetly

People wanted to store photos in a safe place…

People want to store photos

People still want this

People still want to store photos

People wanted to put their favourite photos in a prominent place, so everyone could see them…

People want to share photos

People still want this.

People still want to share photos

People wanted to collect scrapbooks of ideas…

People want to scrapbook

People still want this.

People still want to scrapbook

People wanted to post their friends and loved ones newspaper clippings…

People want to share articles

People still want this.

People still want to share articles

People wanted to leave nice reviews, and tips for other travellers…

People want to leave reviews for others

People still want this.

People still want to leave reviews for others

Making things people want

There are literally hundreds of examples like the ones above and there’s a common trend in all of them. Making things people want involves understanding a longstanding human or business need and then using technology to:

  1. Remove steps
  2. Make it possible for more people
  3. Make it possible in more situations

The first approach, removing steps, is the most common for start-ups. Pick a need where the existing solutions are old, complex and bloated, and find the simplest smallest set of steps possible to deliver the same outcome. Arranging a taxi in a city used to involve calling many numbers until you find a company with availability, then a lengthy dialogue about your location, destination and required arrival time. Today you press one button and a car shows up.

Jeff Bezos is famous for saying ‘Focus on the things that don’t change’

The second approach usually involves reducing the cost (in time or money), or barriers to using a product so that more people can use it, thus expanding the market. Not so long ago ago, if someone wanted to get their writing online they had to rent a linux server, download a .tar.gz file containing the source code of a blogging engine, upload it, run a series of weird commands to unpack it and give it write access, and then configure it. Today you can do the same job in two clicks with Medium.

The third approach involves removing common situational limitations on a workflow. Accepting payment used to involve bulky machines with rolls of thermal paper, faxing paperwork to banks, ISDN lines, and batch transaction transfers run nightly. Today you swipe a card through a phone and you’re done.

Jeff Bezos is famous for saying “Focus on the things that don’t change.” The problems that people and businesses encounter don’t change often. The ways they can be solved changes almost yearly. So it stands to reason that making things people want should start with the “what people want” bit, and not the more tempting “things we can make”.


Remember: It’s easier to make things people want than it is to make people want things.


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