Sharing my love for Product Hunt

The strap line of Product Hunt is “the best new products, everyday”. Product Hunt is a site dedicated to “sharing new, interesting products” and I found over the last few months that it does exactly what it says on the tin:

  1. A community around cool products – The main concept for the guys who started Product Hunt, Ryan Hoover and Nathan Bashaw, was to build a community for product people to share, discover, and discuss new products. Product Hunt is a crowdsourced site and is fully democratic in a sense that its members decide which products get featured and how they rank. For example, on 27 August, Monitorbook – which helps people to track things on the web – topped the list of products, with 466 votes (see Fig. 1 below).
  2. “Reddit for products” – On Product Hunt’s page on AngelList, it says “Reddit for products” which in my opinion is only a partially accurate representation of what Product Hunt is about. Yes, at the face of it, Product Hunt does have a lot in common with crowdsourced news site Reddit; people can submit links, upvote and comment. Even the list-type design of the site looks like Reddit’s. However, I find the design of the leaderboard type lists on Product Hunt much cleaner and easier to read than Reddit. I can see at glance which products got the most votes on any given day and I can delve into the related comments if I wish. It only takes a quick look at Reddit to establish that the design of their page feels a lot messier and crowded.
  3. Product discovery before everyone else does  One could easily argue that sites like TechCrunch already address the need for people to find out about new startups and new products. With Product Hunt, however, this process of product discovery is fully democratic and transparent. Anyone can submit a product to be featured on the site, which will then be curated by the Product Hunt community. I believe this process increases the chances of finding about cool new product ideas before ‘everyone else’ does (e.g. through TechCrunch or Engadget).

Main learning point: I’ve rapidly become a fan of Product Hunt, mainly because of two key reasons. Firstly, if you’re into finding about cool new products and startups, then Product Hunt should be an almost mandatory part of your day. Secondly, I really like how the content on Product Hunt is shaped democratically by a product-oriented community. If you haven’t done so already, please go and check out Product Hunt!

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of Product Hunt on 27 August 2014 

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 06.06.17

Fig. 2 –  Ryan Hoover explains about Product Hunt on This Week in Startups

Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.producthunt.com/about
  2. http://pando.com/2013/12/04/can-the-democratic-power-of-a-platform-like-hacker-news-be-applied-to-products/
  3. http://www.fastcolabs.com/3023152/open-company/the-wisdom-of-the-20-minute-startup
  4. http://techcrunch.com/2014/06/04/product-hunt-is-the-social-news-site-of-tech-products-read-by-influential-people/
  5. http://ryanhoover.me/
  6. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-b-fishbein/what-the-startup-ideas-be_b_5708211.html

Using data to inform product decisions

A few months ago, I delivered a talk to an audience of product managers about the importance of having a data informed approach (see Fig. 1 below). As a product person, using data optimally to help make product decisions is critical. It’s something that I try to work on every day. I’m constantly learning about things such as the best combination of quantitative and qualitative, measuring the right things and using data as an integral part of the product development process.

This is a quick summary of the key things that I talked about in my talk in May of this year:

  1. Why do we need data? – I’m always keen to stress that as a product manager I don’t have all the answers. Product managers aren’t the holy grail and I believe it would be silly to pretend otherwise. I’m never afraid to say that I don’t know when people ask me which product idea we should go for or how people will use our product. Instead, I’ve learned to use data to draft and test assumptions which can help to inform product decisions (see Fig. 2 below).
  2. What can quantitative data tell us? – Quantitative data can really help to get stats on how people actually use a product and measure whether our product improvements or new features have the desired impact. I’ve learned a lot from the book Lean Analytics in which its authors, Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz, expand on when and how to best use quantitative data.
  3. What can qualitative data tell us? – Qualitative data can be very valuable if you want to find out about the “why” behind quantitative data and to get a better insight into what users think and feel. Also, in cases where you don’t have much quantitative data at your disposal, qualitative data can help you to get some quick input into a product idea or prototype.
  4. Data driven approach – There are quite a number of game companies such as Zynga and Wooga that apply a data driven approach to product development. This typically means that a company will pick a single or a set of key metrics to concentrate on (see Fig. 3 below). With a purely data driven approach, its data that determine the fait of a product; based on data outcomes businesses can optimise continuously for the biggest impact on their key metric.
  5. Data informed approach – A few years ago, I came across an inspiring talk by Adam Mosseri, Director of Product at Facebook, who introduced the term “data informed” product development. The main rationale for this data informed approach is that, in reality, data is only one of the factors to consider when making product decisions. I make the point that typically, data is most likely to play a role alongside other decision-making factors such as strategic considerations, user experience, intuition, resources, regulation and competition (see Fig. 4 below). This doesn’t diminish the critical nature of data, but it does into take account a reality where other factors need considering when making product decisions.
  6. Where and why to use data to help inform product decisions – Also, there are a number of cases where a purely data driven approach falls short. For example, when there’s a strategic decision to be made or when you’re assessing a new product idea (see Fig. 5 below), looking at data in isolation may be insufficient. In my talk, I also gave some examples of how and why I use data at set points of the product lifecycle to help inform decision making (see Fig. 6 below).

Main learning point: I’m looking forward to a book by Rochelle King and Sean Power about data-informed design, hoping to learn more about how and when one can use data to inform product design decisions. I feel like I’ve already learned a lot from people like Adam Mosseri, Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz and the way in which they use data as a key factor in making product decisions. Ultimately, I believe that using data continuously – in whichever way or form – is the best way to figure out how to best utilise it.

Fig. 1 – My presentation “Use data to inform product decisions” at ProductTank Hamburg on 16 May 2014 

Fig. 2 – Why do we need data?

  • To learn about products and users
  • To measure success
  • To choose between options
  • To understand user interaction
  • To decide on our products

Fig. 3 – Key components of a data driven approach

  • Focus on the “One Metric That Matters”
  • Build hypothesis around key KPI
  • A/B or multivariate test continuously
  • Optimise your product based on data
  • Are we making a noticeable difference?

Fig. 4 – Factors that can play a role in a product decision-making process (this is by no means an exhaustive list!)

  • Data
  • Strategy
  • Intuition
  • Competition
  • Regulation
  • Business
  • Brand
  • Time
  • Technology

Fig. 5 – Reasons a data informed approach might be better suited to your decision-making process

  • Data is one of the factors to consider
  • Focus on the questions that you want answered
  • You can’t replace intuition or creative ideas with data
  • Assess impact on relevant areas

Fig. 6 – Examples of how I use to data to inform product decisions

What do we want to do?

Assumptions, hypotheses, assessments and prototypes

How should it work?

User testing, user stories, A/B testing and prototypes

How is it working?

Product retrospectives, tracking and goal-oriented planning

Related links for further learning:

  1. http://andrewchen.co/2012/05/29/know-the-difference-between-data-informed-and-versus-data-driven/
  2. http://vimeo.com/14999991
  3. http://venturebeat.com/2013/12/04/the-4-keys-to-running-a-data-driven-business/
  4. http://www.realityisagame.com/archives/390/wooga-follows-zynga-in-metrics-driven-game-design/
  5. http://insideintercom.io/the-problem-with-data-driven-decisions/
  6. http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2013/05/the-perils-of-ab-testing/
  7. http://www.fastcolabs.com/3033885/ebay-is-running-its-own-sociology-experiments
  8. http://www.beyondwebanalytics.com/2013/07/24/episode-67/
  9. http://www.slideshare.net/tgwilson/a-process-for-being-data-driven

A sneak preview of the Avegant Glyph

Even though it has yet to launch, I’m very intrigued by the design and promise of the Avegant Glyph. The “Glyph” is a new headset (see Fig. 1), set to launch in early 2015, which integrates Avegant’s core “virtual retina display” technology into a headset. Even though the design of the Avegant Glyph looks similar to the Oculus Rift, there are some specific features that make the Glyph stand out as a very different and interesting product:

  1. Real world experiences – Whereas the Oculus Rift lets users experience a virtual world, the Avegant Glyph concentrates more on the here and now. As Grant Martin, Avegant’s Head of Marketing and Product Development, explained to TechCrunch “the idea isn’t really to compete with Virtual Reality solutions, but rather to give people an option for a better screen-based entertainment experience wherever they happen to be”. The Glyph is intended as a mobile ear and eye headset, which people can use to watch films or to play games. It does display 3D content and has Bluetooth head-tracking technology which means that it could potentially be used for virtual type applications in the future.
  2. It’s all about the screen display – Even though I haven’t yet had a chance to play with the Glyph, I can imagine that its underlying retina display technology (see Fig. 2) will provide a whole new visual experience to users. The promise of this technology is “to transmit vivid, life-like images directly to the eye”. The optics which are part of Avegant’s technology focus the light rays directly on the user’s retina. It thus produces an perception of an image which is crystal clear, vivid and devoid of any pixel.
  3. Peripheral vision – The Glyph is designed to not completely block out the world around you and leave (some of) your peripheral vision intact. I’m keen, however, to see how much of my peripheral vision will be left intact once I put the visor down on a Glyph.

Main learning point: I can well imagine that the Avegant Glyph will be appealing to a whole new audience of users. Whereas the Oculus Rift is poised to attract an audience of gamers and people keen on virtual reality, the Glyph has the potential to reach out to more ‘everyday’ users who simply want a better visual experience than what they currently get on their smartphones or tablets.

It’s not that you’ll be able to easily blend into the crowd with your Glyph, but its main uses cases are likely to make it a lot more accessible and appealing to a wider audience. With an expected price point of around $500 it will be interesting to see what the uptake will be like, but I’d definitely love to get my hands on a Glyph when it comes out next year!

Fig. 1 – Avegant’s CEO Ed Tang and the Avegant Glyph – Taken from: http://hiconsumption.com/2014/01/avegant-glyph-virtual-reality-headset/

Avegant-Glyph-Virtual-Reality-Headset-0

Fig. 2 – Outline of Avegant’s “Virtual Retinal Display” technology as used in the Glyph – Taken from: http://lifereallymatters.com/avegant-glyph-device-light-years-ahead-others/

Glyph-Tech

Fig. 3 – Avegant Glyph Kickstarter video – Taken from: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/avegantglyph/a-mobile-personal-theater-with-built-in-premium-au

 

Related links for further learning:

  1. http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/29/hands-on-with-the-avegant-glyph-a-head-mounted-display-for-the-average-commuter/
  2. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/avegantglyph/a-mobile-personal-theater-with-built-in-premium-au
  3. http://www.gizmag.com/eyes-on-avegant-glyph/30660/
  4. http://lifereallymatters.com/avegant-glyph-device-light-years-ahead-others/
  5. http://www.cnet.com/uk/products/avegant-glyph/
  6. http://hiconsumption.com/2014/01/avegant-glyph-virtual-reality-headset/