It was our first date.
Some people talk about feeling nervous or having “butterflies” in their stomachs the first time they go out with someone they like. I think that’s precious.
I had pterodactyls in mine.
At the end of the date, there was that expectant, slightly uncomfortable pause — she was giving me an opening. AND I TOOK IT. The first kiss was awesome.
My heart was beating so fast, I thought it was going to palpate right out of my chest.
Maneesh, you’re exaggerating!
That’s what she said. Until I texted her this picture…
(dear god I am hairy)
This is a shot of my heart rate at 105 bpm, taken from my Basis watch right after the kiss. Does this mean we have to get married?
The Basis watch is a great piece of technology. It far surpasses the weird one-sensor pedometer watches of the 90’s and does a lot of really cool things, including tracking your heart rate, motion, perspiration, skin temperature, and even your sleep patterns. These features are well worth the $200+ I paid.
But there’s one small problem: After 2 weeks, it’s already broken.
Two wrist straps — both the default one it came with and the upgraded leather one I paid $50 extra for — have snapped in half. They unhinged right at the connection point between the strap and the watch face.
When the second strap broke, I was downtown. The little connector pin popped right off and rolled under a train in mid-motion, causing me to fumble facedown in a desperate attempt to save the watch…and nearly walk into the passing train. Perfect.
And now the watch is completely useless to me.
This entire incident has me thinking a lot about user experience and how often the smallest details can leave lasting impressions on customers.
What does this mean for someone creating a product?
As product creators, we’re so focused on making sure that the product has all the best features, is marketed in the most creative ways, and hits all the right numbers.
But none of this stuff matters if we don’t pay attention to the last 10% of the product — those small, seemingly insignificant details that often mean the difference between something that I’ll use every day and an expensive, high-tech gadget like the Basis watch, which now makes an excellent bluetooth paper weight.
That’s why it’s all about FtP: Finishing the Product
The 5 Commandments of FtP
Commandment #1: Users usually won’t notice when you get something right. But they’ll always notice when you get something wrong.
Think about the basic function of review platforms like Yelp! or movie critiquing forums like Rotten Tomatoes. Their primary goal is to WARN consumers about products that could be a waste of time or money. Some businesses get good reviews — but in general, people review products when they want to complain. Happy users are usually too busy…umm, happily using the product to speak up.
This means that feedback you get will often focus on the flaws of the product. In fact, early users may sometimes overlook a many really great features if there are some glaring gaps in functionality. This is normal. Come to expect it.
You can’t please everyone, so don’t try. And someone will always have something negative to say about your product.
But don’t be fooled into thinking “they won’t notice” poor design – like a weak watchband that pops off – or half-ass UX. Consumers always do. So don’t let this stuff go unchecked.
You won’t always get praise for putting work into the tiny details, but you can pre-empt the majority of negative feedback by focusing intensely on user experience from the very beginning.
Commandment #2: Always take the time to perfect the small touches. Even if that means delaying a launch.
There is a lot to be said for not getting caught up in the perfectionist game. That’s a dangerous cycle – and the reality is you’ll probably never be satisfied with the what you’re working on. Eventually, you’ll just have to launch and see what happens.
But there’s a HUGE difference between launching a rough first iteration ( AKA you’ve done your best up to this point…) and launching some weird premature, emaciated product-child that shouldn’t be seeing the light of day.
A great example here: Apple Maps on iOS6. Ever tried to get around with it?
In Los Angeles, looking for the nearest Chipotle….
“Why does this thing have me in New Jersey right now?”
Apple was so anxious to roll the new features out that they completely overlooked dozens of little bugs that led to a really bad release (which by the way…is pretty uncharacteristic for Apple).
Now people are pissed off and nobody wants to use stupid Apple Maps. No matter how many updates they do.
DON’T DO THIS.
Commandment #3: Make it easy for your users to voice their concerns. Then, integrate that feedback to make a better product.
As a product creator, your goal is to become a trusted friend to your users. You should be easy to find, ready to listen and quick to respond.
One of the worst experiences a user can have is when they try to come to you with a question or concern…and you make it complicated and inconvenient for them to give you feedback.
These are the simple things that we don’t think about because we’re so busy launching. These are the little nuances that make up the last 10% of product creation.
- Difficult to find/obscure contact forms on your website
- No response (or poor response time – pretty much the same thing)
- Unhelpful, unprofessional response (cursing, endless phone maze, etc)
But besides not pissing people off, being there to listen provides a huge competitive advantage: Insight.
After you listen to what people are telling you, use that feedback to create a better version of your product the next time.
You can use customers’ exact words to create tailor-made marketing campaigns that makes people feel like you’re inside their heads.
You can use detailed surveys to figure out the most important features to add next time.
You can use beta testing to determine the how to create the absolute best experience for the user.
These are the tiny things that most people who create a product won’t do — but this type of feedback loop is what world-class product developers use to create success after success.
Commandment #4: You’re only as good as your last iteration.
This one is simple: You’ll lose users with each poor iteration.
You shouldn’t just release version 2.0 because it’s been a year and “it’s time.” Every time you release a new version of your product, it should be progressively better than what you released before.
If you buy a 2014 BMW 5 Series and it breaks down in 2 weeks, you don’t find yourself saying “Well, it’s ok that this iteration sucks. The 1999 528i was amazing!”
Make it better or don’t make it at all.
Commandment #5: Nothing goes away. Ever.
Creating a product can be a great way to make passive income because it has the ability to continually generate revenue without any extra work from you.
I’ve done this with my bestselling books – which continue to make income for me every single month even though I wrote them years ago. This is awesome.
But not all products are created equal.
The reason my books continue to make money almost 10 years after publication is because I put so much work in on the front end that I knew they’d stand the test of time. I knew what once I pushed “send”, there was no getting that chance back.
Just like a good product will live on and make money long after you’ve created it, a poor product will continue to live on and create negative credibility/feedback for your brand. Forever.
If I’d created something half-assed, it would still be out there floating around. I’d probably feel stupid for the rest of my life and my heart rate would elevate every time I thought about it. Good thing my Basis is broken.
What do you think?
These are just a few examples of ways that you can “Finish the Product” by paying special attention to the the last 10% of the creation process. This type of attention to detail is what separates the top-tier products that stand the test of time from the mediocre trinkets that can’t make it past the HSN Christmas push.
What are you working on right now? What other fundamental details should we pay attention to when creating a product?
Let me know in the comments.