Minimum viable demo
Use animated gifs to explain your awesome new features
Imagine you are a Product Manager inside a large organization.
Your team has just finished a new feature for internal users.
As the PM, you need your colleagues to understand and use the new feature. Your colleagues, however, are busy and have priorities of their own.
Thus begins the challenge of coordinating and scheduling demos so that you can collect feedback and drive internal adoption. You know how it goes: people are hard to track down, they are spread across time zones, they’re fully booked for weeks and when you finally manage to find a time that works for everyone, scheduling conflicts cause some of your participants to not show up.
What if there was an easier way to explain your new feature?
How to demo a feature in seconds
Step 1: Grab your favorite tool for creating animated gifs. I use LICEcap, a free and open sourced app for creating animated screen-caps.
Step 2: Record your screen as you use the new feature.
Step 3: Email your animated gif to your users. Keep it short and sweet. Explain what your animated gif shows and why it’s great:
Here’s why this approach is worth trying
It’s cheap: It won’t take you more than 5 minutes to create a gif demo and share it.
It scales: It will take the same amount of effort whether you’re sharing with 10 people or 100.
It’s asynchronous: The .gif demo doesn’t need to care about time zones.
It’s considerate: The .gif demo asks for seconds, not minutes (or hours), of the recipient’s time.
It shortens the feedback loop: The .gif demo surfaces feedback faster than a traditional demo meeting because it gives the users something to react to faster.
But my feature is more complex than a small UI change
If you’re launching a larger feature, you’ll probably want to set up in person demo to walk people through the changes.
The gif demo can still be your friend: use it to share one or more previews of the changes to get your users excited and help them understand how the new feature will affect them.
Taking your gif demo from good to great
- Keep it short. You’re recording a gif, not a video. Keep it under 10 seconds. (For inspiration, check out Lowes’ Fix in Six campaign, a series of instructional 6-second videos)
- Plan ahead. To make the most of the time you have, think about what it is you need to show – you’ll have to be selective. Is it an entire workflow, or perhaps just one key step?
- Practice. Practice a couple of times so that you know exactly what workflow you want to demonstrate. This will help you keep your gif short. It will also show off the feature better as you won’t hesitate or look where to click next.
- Don’t forget to loop. Your recipients will probably want to watch the demo more than once. Help them do so by looping your gif.
I work at Pivotal Labs. We are currently hiring product managers for all of our offices. If you’d like to learn more go to http://pivotallabs.com/careers/ or ping me @jbeltowska.