How do I “Build Products that People Love”?

When I attended Mind The Product 2018 recently in London I was excited by the slogan:

“Build Products People Love.”

It got me contemplating as to what kind of thinking can deliver the right conditions to achieve such a goal?

I believe that by applying the following three principles we can evoke the conditions to truly build products that people love:

  1. Design for the Human Mind
  2. Question Metrics
  3. Unify Experience and Function in ONE

1. Design for the Human Mind

Assume that your product deals with the human mind, human culture, and the complexities of perception.

For example, in general we react differently to objects than faces.

When we confront a face we feel communicative, we expose our ability to understand and to express. However, when we confront an object all that communicative capacity is constrained.

Interestingly, some elements of User Interfacing have the potential to trigger a human response as opposed to an object response.

For example, there is an object category denominated The Greebles which has been demonstrated to evoke the part of the brain that deals with faces as opposed to that which deals with objects and places.

The Greebles

Applying the Greebles idea to User Interfacing helps to both break the flat of the device screen as well as providing a warmer space that surprises our interpretation of objects.

Correlated actions and motions applied in harmony are capable of making us feel a bit less cold in front of an object and a bit more human.

Here are some samples that are inspired on the Greeble stimuli:

Motion in iOs 11
Instant-Motion effect on Lovelybikes
Instant-Motion effect on SohoHome Mobile Version

2. Question Metrics

Data is all about intervention and it’s in our nature to try to understand what a product does linearly, observing every action in that single dimension in which the product exists.

Creating a loveable product can become impossible when we’re only being analytical (i.e. driven by Vertical Thinking), when we’re depending on data alone to portray the product as an object of measurable function.

Metrics are important and there is good and value in them, yet we should acknowledge that metrics can also harm creativity.

A simple, yet effective, way to look at this and to question metrics is through these examples:

  • Conversions are positive: Yet what if I had high commitment and needed to buy an item so ended up converting but was very frustrated?
  • Abandons are negative: What if I was on the move and so it wasn’t the right moment to make a purchase but I loved the interactions and the product?

Products shouldn’t be dictated by assumptions; there isn’t such a thing as a single source of truth as there also isn’t a valid notion of absolute certainty or absolute truth.

Metrics should be seen as an end, but not as the means to that end by:

  • Triangulate metrics. A goal definition should combine and consider three dimensions simultaneously: The User, the Action and the Output. Always the three together as one alone does not represent, and should not dictate, what has happened or what will happen.
  • Triangulate the representation of Metrics. To make it more interesting, same data can result in different interpretations depending on how it is presented. For example, a performance representation can be articulated at least in three possible ways and each evokes a different interpretation:
Cloud of related terms
Sphere of related terms
Sequence of related terms

3. Unify Experience and Function in ONE

Experience and Function should not be seen in opposition but as united.

Boosting features or functionality separately risks minimising the significance of the perceptions that are key to human nature.

Thinking of your product as a human and functional challenge, in one, creates conditions for irresistible products; for beauty in function, for aesthetics in value.

Here are some ideas on how to resolve, through a twofold tactic, both experience and function:

  • Connect with the experiential dimension of a feature, with that which is perceived. In the following example an auto-complete is mapped to a SKU number detection, recognizing it while a user types.
Zara SKU number auto-completion that normalises references as you type.
  • Expose with clarity to a user what a function does and how it does it.
Personalisation exposed to a User, giving control over function.

Conclusion

The Products we love aren’t reasoned into existence. These products deliver an emotional connection beyond a functioning one which of course they also master.

Breaking the flat land of the device screen, evoking motion and expression, questioning metrics or seeing function as a perception game as much as a practical action, unlocks creativity and imagination.

Assume that your product deals with the human mind, with human culture, that it addresses the complexities of perception, the aspects that define people. And let’s face it, for the most part, humans don’t entirely comprehend themselves or each other.

Be a Dreamer Product Manager, shape data as opposed to being shaped by it.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

George Bernard Shaw — Irish dramatist & socialist (1856–1950)