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How to answer Product Design Questions in Interviews (With an example)?

Note: The original article is published on my portfolio website, which can be viewed here.

Hello everyone, so I’m jotting down one more article related to product management, if you haven’t read my past article on success metrics then here’s the link to that. In this article, I’m gonna lay out a simple process that I learned & generally follow while answering Product Design questions (With an example :D) which may be helpful for you as well if you need a format to better structure your answer. So, let’s get started 😎 -

First, let’s talk about why these kinds of questions are asked in PM Interviews? So, basically, it helps the interviewer see how would you discover and address the user's pain points for a given product. It also helps them in analyzing how good one is at making and prioritizing decisions. It’s also done to identify one's thought process & communication skills.

In this whole article, the example I would be taking is- “Design Netflix for Senior Citizens”.

Design Netflix for Senior Citizens
Yes, NETFLIX but for senior citizens :)

1️⃣ Clarify the scope of the question-

The very first thing one should do is to clarify and ask more questions, here either the interviewer answers your questions or you had to make assumptions while giving valid reasons why you make them. Also, do state any constraints you’re making here initially. In this given question it’s asking to design NETFLIX for senior citizens, now interviewer had not given you a broad statement, to make sure you solve the right problem, one should ask basic questions in the beginning, so for the given example, these could be -

Q1. Are we targeting any particular age group? — Consider seniors above 60 years of age.
Q2. What is the goal of the product? — Increase Engagement.
Q3. Old people had generally various disabilities (one of the common ones that may affect our product is low-eyesight), should we consider these disabilities?- Yes
Q4. Is this would be a separate product or would be a part of the existing application ?- You Decide
Q5. For which platform are we designing for Web or Mobile? — You Decide

Now after asking the right questions, we do have a clear idea about the product, so reiterating the statement here— Design Netflix for senior citizens above the age of 60 years and they may or may not have disabilities. Our goal is to increase user engagement. The product could be built for any device and it’s up to me whether I should build a new one or make changes to the existing one. Also, here assumption I’m taking is senior people know how to use smart devices and have a little bit of tech knowledge.

2️⃣ Mission/Vission of the Product -

Stating Mission is sometimes important especially when we’re introducing a new feature to an existing application, because there should be WHY first before building any product, if we’re introducing something new that doesn’t match with our vision, then we should think before building that product.

Here for this current problem, Netflix's mission is to “Entertain the world”, which definitely fits here. Also, the reason behind why should we build this is - As senior citizens generally had a lot of free time and hence we can develop an engaging platform for them that eventually leads to more revenue.

3️⃣ Define Personas (User group) -

The next step that comes is to define all users who gonna be the future/current users of the product and if a product seems too big (For ex- If we asked to design something related to Google maps, then possibly it had various kinds of user groups like daily commuters, tourists and much more), then in these cases we should focus on a particular user and define why we choose them.

For now, we could have different user groups -

  1. New joiners- Senior citizens who just got to know about Netflix.
  2. Daily Watchers- Seniors who already watch different TV shows (Uncle John, who’s 63 years old & loved watching comedy shows).
  3. Occasional watchers- Seniors who occasionally watch TV shows (Aunt Bella, who sometimes does watch cooking episodes).

This time I would like to focus on New joiners as this could be our new target and if we solve the problem for them, then obviously our problem got solved for the rest of the groups as well, as the remaining journey after joining Netflix would almost be similar.

4️⃣ User Journey -

Now we had a clear understanding of our target user groups, now the time comes to see how a journey looks to be from a user point of view. Here laying out the journey for our Netflix user -

Senior starts his day -> Feels free and have nothing much to do -> Senior feels bored and wants to watch a video -> Opens Netflix application -> Choose Language -> Sign in -> Pay -> Browse/Search relevant content or watch from reccomendations -> Play video ->Finish or may not finish -> Come back again -> Wants to be reminded which show they were watching -> Start watching again

This is a general user journey that I mentioned here, but there could be various edge cases that may be not covered here, but for now, we would list down the user problems from it, to get a better view and to understand real users pain points.

5️⃣ Identify User Problems -

Based on the user journey we can identify the user problems and then prioritize and find solutions for them-

  1. The user might have difficulty in onboarding.
  2. The user doesn’t know what to watch.
  3. The user won’t able to read properly any content if s/he wants to, due to low eye vision.
  4. The user might have low retention memory, so a user won’t able to remember the last episode if s/he drops in while watching a video.
  5. The user might forget to watch the TV series.
  6. Once a series/show is finished s/he doesn’t know what to do next.
  7. The user might get bored in-between while watching Netflix shows.

I have listed down all the problems which I feel a user might face while using or exploring the product, now most of the problems seem important to solve, but for now, to build an MVP, I would be focusing on 2,3,4 & 5 (also these are more focused on engagement side which is our goal).

6️⃣ List Solutions & evaluate them-

Now we know the problems and we need to find creative and practical solutions for the same. Once we find the solution one of the important steps is to again prioritize the solutions (As deciding which feature to roll out at what time is another major function of a PM).

But before directly jumping into the solution, let us first decide two things i.e. This product would be a mobile application although there would be an option for users to watch them easily either on their tablet or TV (As for senior users, holding or watching something in a phone would be difficult considering their disabilities). Second is we won’t be creating any new application for that, this one could be implemented in the existing one. (Although there could be trade-offs for the same which we’ll discuss in the end). So, for now, here I would list some solutions for the above problems and have prioritized them in this table -

Representing solutions to their respective problems with the priority.
Representing solutions to their respective problems with priority.

For our MVP we could focus on the features that are listed as “Must have” and can build a product according to them. Also now let’s discuss the pros and cons of modifying the existing application for these users as we discussed above -

Pros -
> No need to put more effort into building a new application.
> Need less effort to push, don’t need to spend more money on marketing/acquire customers, etc.

Cons -
> Not helpful for existing customers, make it cluttered.
> Targeting all segments would be difficult to handle.

Considering these for now we could go with modifying the existing application and can see to build a new one in V2.

7️⃣ Success metrics -

After listing the solutions, the final and the last thing that comes is to list down metrics that we need to measure, as before launching it in the market, we should track are we aligning with our goal or not. Here are the metrics I want to focus on -

  1. Total number of downloads (Acquisition)
  2. Total number of active users who made payment and select themselves as senior citizens (Activation)
  3. Total number of users using accessibility features (Text & voice)
  4. Total number of users watching shows from the recommendations as compared to search
  5. Total number of users watching the recap
  6. Total number of users coming back to the application after sending a notification
  7. Avg session duration (Engagement)
  8. Total number of sessions (Engagement)
  9. Total number of users coming back to the application (Retention)
  10. Average revenue generated per user (Revenue)

There comes the ending part, now from identifying the problems to listing metrics we have done everything, in the end, we can tell the interviewer summary of the whole study, and yup we’re done 😎🥳.

IMP — As a PM you won’t only measure the growth metrics for a company but see how it’s affecting the users, maybe we can implement a feature where if a particular user watches more than 2 hours in a single day then we can push a notification stating it’s time to take rest because as a senior citizen continuously watching a screen may have bad side effects.

Oh yea, we made it till the end :)

P.S. — I’m also learning things and everything I stated above is something I learned from various resources over Google & Youtube, if you found that something could be improved or if you had any kind of feedback then please feel free to reach out to me here.

If you’ve reached this end, please do give 50 claps to this article, took me a lot of time to write this 🥺. Btw, I’m currently working as a Product Designer at InterviewBit, and yes it’s always good to connect, say me Hi👋🏻 here at LinkedIn or Twitter.

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