Talking Product with April Underwood
April Underwood knows a thing or two about building successful products. She currently serves as Head of Platform at Slack, and prior to that developed product at Twitter, Google, and Travelocity. April also recently co-founded the investment collective #Angels.
Here are just a few nuggets of product wisdom we were lucky enough to learn from April when we spoke with her a while back.
1. Getting pushback on product changes is a good problem.
It falls in the category of a good problem to have, when you change your product and people care. A lot of times you work on products and you make changes, and people may not notice. I think definitely something you see with big consumer products is that when you make changes to it, people feel a real sense of connection, a sense of ownership with that product.
2. Successful teams are aligned to a common product vision.
At the highest level, what’s most important is that there’s a shared sense of vision for where the product and the company are going. So that if you’ve got different teams that are working on goals at odds with one another, there’s an understanding of how each goal relates to the company vision.
3. Data is important, but so are gut tradeoffs.
I had the opportunity to sit in some meetings that had product leadership all the way up to the top, from both the ad side and also the consumer side. I found it really valuable to see that some decisions have to be made by getting the right people in a room and evaluating trade offs. You can say you want to be data driven, but ultimately you have to take some risks.
4. Include time for evaluation in your product strategy.
Sometimes you’re working on a new feature, and as soon as that team is done, you’ve already got them subscribed to work on the next thing. It’s very important to leave product manager, engineers, and designers enough time to understand how their users react to a new feature, and then make modifications as necessary. Bake the expectation that you will learn things after launch and you will make adjustments into your roadmap.
5. When is the right time to start measuring a product’s success?
One to two months after a launch feels like enough. You’ve got some user data. You can look at both metrics. Are people not coming back to this part of the product anymore? Are they actually using this feature? If you’re on the monetization side, you can look at how much revenue is actually being generated, or the revenue metrics associated with it. However, I think the reality is that usually, those time horizons ought to be longer.
6. Consider your product’s final audience.
I don’t believe people build developer products for developers. If you’re really doing it right, you’re building developer products because it helps developers build great products for users.