Nicolas Foulon
Nov 13, 2018 · 4 min read


  • There is a contradiction between driving engagement and user happiness.
  • We should be data-informed, do human centric design and not be data centric.
  • When running an experiment, we should follow a Nuremberg code and ask ourselves “What is the benefit to the user?”
InnovationArts : Kim Goodwin — Human Centred Product

Make the world a better place

The purpose of product management is to build products people want and to make life better. To do so we want to empower people with products able to give them freedom, flexibility, independence and connection.

Sometimes products may not bring much value to the end-user, as they can divert our attention instead of helping us. One such example may be the useless and time-consuming notifications we receive from a large number of apps. Some products also prevent us from sleeping, thereby increasing anxiousness and leading to depression.

There is sometimes a contradiction between driving engagement and user happiness. A famous example is YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. The latter tends to promote more and more extreme videos to the user just because it boosts engagement.

“Products are made of decision not pixel and code.”

Those decisions are made by a lot of people with different backgrounds: even legal people affect the product with their decisions. It is up to us to help our organisation make the best possible decisions.

Be data-informed

Data is now everywhere, it is possible to know what people do at night, if they have children, what they like, if they are sick, etc. As data is ubiquitous, Kim Goodwin invites us to think of the reasons of data collection. It is obviously ok to collect data but we always have to consider if this data is essential and if we would agree to let a website collect such data if it were our own.

Food for thought:

  • Would you agree to let Facebook sell your phone number while you gave it to enable two factors authentication?
  • Would you agree to let a data analyst from a service that you use see everything that you do on their website, including form’s data?

The question is: what kind of collection is ok? What is acceptable? Is privacy at risk? What is ok to do with the information ? Is it tolerable to sell it?

Product’s design are more and more metrics centered and everyone is happy when we reach them. However, this way to design doesn’t ensure you that your user will be happy and that the “job to be done” is done. According to Kim Goodwin, metrics are made to provide focus and feedbacks.

The main risk when only focusing on metrics is that you will try to invent new ways to hook people instead of focusing on the job to be done and the value that you provide to the user.

Human centered design

Kim Goodwin urges us to do human centered design and not be data centered. Here are some principles to apply that:

#1 We have to be explicit about what “human centered” means.

One good way to find out is to use the Maslow Pyramid. Human centered design has to give benefits in one of those aspects. If not, it is not human centered.

Maslow’s Hierarchy

#2 We should follow a Nuremberg code.

The Nuremberg Code is a set of research ethics principles for human experimentation written at the end of Second World War.

“Internet products and services are the largest human-subjects experiment ever conducted.”

When we lead experiments or collect data, we should always consider this code and ask ourselves those questions:

  • Is participant consent truly voluntary?
  • What is the benefit to the user?
  • Is this experiment the only way?
  • Is the risk proportional to the benefit?
  • What kinds of harm are possible? How could we minimize harm?

Food for thought:

  • Uber uses psychological tricks to push its drivers’ button: is this helping the user?
  • Roomba, the company building autonomous vacuum cleaners wants to sell your house floor plan: as a user, do you get any value from this sale?

#3 We must be goal-focused, value-guided and data informed.

Goals are what we hope to achieve, values are what you won’t sacrifice and metrics allow us to measure both goals and values. You usually won’t use the same metric to measure goals and values.

Kim Goodwin gives us a good tool to evaluate your value:

If you don’t apply it when it’s inconvenient, it’s not a value, if you only apply it when it’s convenient, it’s marketing.

Facebook example:

The value of Facebook is “promote belonging and esteem”. To measure this value, they use the following metrics:

  • Proportion of people who said they… felt connected to others
  • Proportion of people who said they… felt valued by people not like them
  • Proportion of people who said they…valued people not like them

MeilleursAgents Engineering

MeilleursAgents Engineering Teams (Product, Web & Data Teams)

Thanks to Laure NILLES

Nicolas Foulon

Written by

MeilleursAgents Engineering

MeilleursAgents Engineering Teams (Product, Web & Data Teams)

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