Sep 24, 2014

Building a lovable product

I admit it, I consume a lot of content - books, e-books, blogs, links from twitter feed etc. Most of the content is not really assimilated. I don't often sit back and think through what I read and reflect on the relevant take-aways and how I can apply/expand/refute/customize further.

On one of the routine content consumption days, I stumbled upon this wonderful piece - "Don't die of consumption, Learn by writing". I have read this article thrice so far and I intend to read it atleast once a week. Not to say, my consumption has reduced but I have started to consciously introspect, analyze and write down my thoughts around content that resonated with me. The below article is one such reflection.

I was listening to the first lecture in "How to start a startup" series, initiated by the folks at YCombinator. It was a valuable lecture with many useful insights. Although I would have loved it even more if Sam Altman had shared the awesome material in a more presentable format, than reading it aloud from a paper.

One of the points that struck me hard was this:

"Build a product that a small number of users love rather than a large number of users like"

A small group of user community who adore your product would be of immense value through their continuous feedback, since they would want to see your product grow, improve and succeed. They also help by spreading the word around to their friends and family. From a product standpoint, focusing on this small group helps to learn a lot about user behavior. It also helps to build a personal connection with a small community, thereby getting quicker feedback during each iteration.

Sam talks about keeping the product simple and focusing on the ONE core benefit to the user extremely well. This relates to the Minimum Wow Product I had written about sometime back.

If a person has to associate a powerful emotion like "LOVE" with a product, then the product should hit a chord at a more deeper level with that person - his needs, desires and aspirations. In order to do that, the product creator should have a strong understanding of the market - not just the numbers on market size, growth and profitability, but also the softer (and often overlooked) aspects of his target segment - their motivations, context, personality and triggers that influence their behaviors.

It's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem in some sense - Having a user community that loves your product and having a solid knowledge of the motivations of such a community. But it's not an unsolvable problem, if you are willing to iterate and learn.

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