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Being a Product Manager at Project A for 3 months part 2

Building products customers love

The book

This post is the second entry of a series of entries in which I want to summarize most of the part I learned during a summer internship as a product manger. Today I want to focus on my personal opinions on User Experience (UX). Although the title of that post is inspired by the title of the book 'Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love' by Marty Cagan1 I won't cover the book. But the book provides one of the best guidelines on product management so I can recommend it everyone. I will talk about UX.

You can measure User Experience (UX)

I got the task to create mockups for a responsive design during the first weeks of my internship. After I finished my first views, I asked myself the question: 'Does the site behave like I expect it from a mobile app?'
If I wasn't satisfied, I rearranged the elements quickly and asked myself the same question again. During that incremental improvement I always tried to talk to somebody else too and asked for his or her opinion on the click flow, the call-to-action or whether the information is displayed in a clear way.

It's not easy to quantitatively test your mockups, but you can easily collect qualitative test data for mockups by yourself and the colleague that sits next to you. You shouldn't be happy with your first try.

Customer interviews

After mockups are done you can either try to collect customer feedback from mockups or create a quick and dirty prototype you don't mind throwing away. I sadly never did some customer interviews by myself, but there is an awesome tutorial on userexperience by the guys from mybalsamiq called UX apprentice2. They summarized how they build a tablet app for in-store purchases and gave detailed explanations on every step they made.

"[...] people don't know what they want until you show it to them." - Steve Jobs

During an interview with businessweek.com in May 19983 the famous quote was created by Steve Jobs.
On the one hand he is right, as Guy Kawasaki interpreted: 'If you ask customers what they want, they will tell you, "Better, faster, and cheaper" - that is, better sameness, not revolutionary change.'4
But on the other hand you can do at least qualitative analysis on your revolutionary change. Give the feature to customers, which aren't used to the current interface. They can tell you how they like. You could even try to measure how long new customers need to do some tasks and get some quantitative feedback.
If you build a completely new interface, your test results could be worse then they would be if you just take the an existing and well known interface and adopt it to your needs.
So radical changes get hard, the more used you are to a product and it's userexperience. However customers will always like what they already know, but with radical changes there is the hope for real customer-love.

  1. Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love on Amazon (no Partner-Link)
  2. UX apprentice
  3. Interview with Steve Jobs in may 1998
  4. Guy Kawasaki on 'What I Learned From Steve Jobs'