How We Made and Launched productmanual.co (Part 1)

Today I am very excited to announce https://www.productmanual.co is live! I have been working on this side project for a month with Lucas and we are very thrilled to launch it and see people’s positive reactions on Product Hunt (as of the time of writing, 1.16am CET we have received 739 upvotes and featured as #1 product of the day). I would like to share our experience of how we made and launched this product.

productmanual.co

The product vision

Product Manual is a curated directory of resources and tools to help you learn and progress in product management. The directory is organised in 25 categories. Each category has a list of carefully curated resources in various formats. You can browse the directory by category or search the whole directory.

The goal of the product is to help people find relavant Product Management info for their learning. If people find a great content and leave our site for the content, we have done a good job; if they keep coming back again and again, we consider that our website is a good source of info for them. We do not seek people to stay on our site for too long; but we hope they find the right thing they look for and come back next time.

Our target is Product People. It is rather large. For students who are thinking of product management as a career possibility or professionals who want to change to product management, there are many 101 resources to start off. For entry level product managers or product designers, self-learning is made easy with our carefully curated content combining theories and cases. For intermediate and senior level product people, our website can be a handy reference where they can look up for specific topics to dig deep; they can also contribute to the PM community by suggesting quality resources.

Our directory of curated content is totally free and we will try to keep it this way. We do have some mid/long-term vision where more added-value services may be proposed via our website, but for the moment we want to concentrate on the base of our website and make it great.

The Making-of

Lucas and I make a great team. It is really important that co-founders can collaborate effectively.

We did a series of workshops to define the category list. If you look at a few product management books or training programmes, you will find different lists of subjects. It is rather normal as product management has so many subjects to cover. We listed all the subjects we could identify; it was a very long list. Then we did card sorting to try to group subjects. But it was not sufficient, we realised that the granularity of a category is very important and sometimes you need to make empirical decision whether a category is worth existing alone or it can be grouped with or covered in another category. The number of resources helped decision making on the category list too.

Then we needed to decide the order to display the categories. We could display categories from A to Z, it is easy to understand but we thought it would be better to give it some logic. So we decided to start with the Fundamentals. Then as we are strong advocate of Design Thinking we put it before all the design categories. Then we did Usability Test and added Design Sprint as a useful application of all the categories before. Growth/Analytics/Experimentation came just after that. We left Strategy/Roadmapping/Leadership later as we considered them something you learn and gain through the practice of all the previous categories. PM cannot know nothing about technology and engineering, Agile Methodologies and Technology are two categories for this reason. Last but not least, we added Sales and Marketing because product people need to know how to get buy-in for their ideas and market their products; we did think this part might be named Communication and Marketing though.

For the content curation, we did it in the following steps. First, we listed all resources we have already seen and favourited and categorised them. Second, we searched the internet for best resources by category. Third, we scrutinised each content ourselves by reading the content, verifying the relevance per category, checking the creator’s credibility, scanning comments, comparing with similar content etc. Then we selected from scrutinised content to construct for each category a list of resources which vary in level (entry/ intermediate/ advanced), in format (article/ video/ podcast/ tool) and in content (theory/case) and to make sure that selected resources cover various aspects of the category.

Content List

Lucas did the prototype on which we iterated in a very agile way to make the UX simple and intuitive. We really enjoyed the work sessions where we just tested and tested again all possible user flows trying to find anything that was not flowing.

On the graphic, for colours, a careful selection of purple nuances with well drawn curves gives the site an elegant and professional look and apart from that there is really only black, white and grey. For typefaces, Helvetica is used for the logo for its timeless and affirmative quality, and Source Sans Pro for all the rest for its clarity and readability. We were very happy with the simple and practical design.

We then added the search which can help people who look for specific topics easily. By then our MVP+ was ready.

We sent it out to product people of different levels to test and collected feedback and then kept iterating and testing until a couple of days before launch.

(continue to the Part 2 of the story)

(This article is first published on mrliyang.com)

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