6 Lessons We Learned from Our Mobile Product Management Roadshow in Boston
As companies in every industry adopt new mobile strategies, it’s imperative to understand mobile’s impact on product management. That’s why we’re bringing together some of the best product minds to discuss what’s working, what to avoid, and how to prepare for success in a multi-city roadshow.
Last week, we kicked off our roadshow series in Boston with a panel featuring Oliver Young, Principal Product Manager at Sonos; Arpit Gupta, Senior Product Manager at Wayfair; and Rick Sawyer, Director of Product at DraftKings. Marcus Collins, our Senior Account Manager, moderated the panel.
Although we learned a ton, we’ve pinpointed the top six things we learned during the panel discussion. Read on for our biggest takeaways!
1. Designing for mobile first is almost always preferable.
Product managers have very little real estate to work with on mobile products, which is exactly why it’s best to design for mobile first. Designing for mobile forces teams to boil their products down to their essence and clearly define what is most important. This approach allows PMs to strictly prioritize and streamline their efforts.
As one of our panelists put it, designing for mobile helps to “avoid the temptation to take everything and shove it in a hamburger.” Designing for mobile first usually results in a more pure product with a smooth customer experience, thanks to the lack of hamburger-shoving-temptation.
2. User test a lot—and in many different ways.
Our panelists user test—a lot. And not only do they user test frequently, they do so in a variety of ways, including in-person and online. The goal is to learn as much as you can about the product pain points your customers are facing, which will help to clarify what your product roadmap should include.
Don’t have time for a user test? One panelist recommends product managers utilize colleagues. While acknowledging the fact that colleagues are not a representative group, you can still identify soft spots in the product in a pinch.
3. Learn the do’s and dont’s of leveraging customer feedback.
Gathering customer feedback is essential to a successful product, but so is learning how to determine which feedback should be incorporated into the product and which should not. The ultimate question product managers have to answer is how to balance the long-term trajectory of the company with what customers need right now. Customers aren’t privy to your brands’ big picture strategy, so product managers are charged with the incredibly difficult task of understanding how to align customers’ immediate needs with the steps the company must take to achieve their long-term goals.
When customer needs clash with long-term strategies, it’s okay for product managers to choose to walk away from a set of customers who don’t fit into the larger vision. However, it can be tricky if those customers happen to be very vocal and passionate about your product. In this situation, communication is key. Be open with your customers about the direction of your product and why certain decisions were made. Communication will (hopefully) inspire empathy within the spurned customer group.
4. Customers feedback and customer behavior may not align.
It’s not uncommon for customers to vocally reject product changes (think: Twitter’s switch from stars to hearts and favorites to likes). However, the data may show that customers actually prefer the updates (think: more “likes” per day as compared to favorites). In these instances, be sure to have data to back up your theory that product changes will create a better customer experience. You know changes are worth reconsidering when customer feedback is negative and usage is down.
5. Customers who use apps that aren’t made specifically for iOS or specifically for Android feel like second-class citizens.
Customers can tell when brands have taken a shortcut by copying an iOS app and calling it an Android app—and they’re usually not fans. How did our panelists make this discovery? App reviews. One of our panelists was tipped off when he discovered there was a stark contrast between Android and iOS app reviews and he tried to figure out why.
What he realized is that when apps are not tailored specifically to their operating system, the experience is diminished and customers take notice. Each app doesn’t have to be built from scratch, but it would be a mistake for PMs not to take the main differences between the two operating systems into consideration when designing apps.
6. Voice is one of the most exciting up-and-coming technologies.
Oliver Young, Principal Product Manager at Sonos, believes voice is the next major user interface. Incorporating Amazon Alexa and Google Home into his life has changed the way he interacts with technology. From his point of view, voice technology is going to have a massive impact on the scale of mobile change for every product, including banking. He foresees a world where people will be able to make stock trades using voice. He also anticipates that Google and Amazon aren’t going to be the only contenders in the voice-driven world.
Designing products with voice technology opens up a whole new set of challenges that most PMs have yet to discover. We’re looking forward to seeing how voice can create new, engaging customer experiences.