Building a great product is really hard. That’s why we’ve created these 7 principles — to help us make decisions faster and more cohesively.
It doesn’t mean we’ll always get it right, but by trying to follow them, we’ll be better. We thought we’d share them with you.
§1. Carefully craft the experience
I love thinking about fantastic user experiences as this record-breaking pit stop:
How do we make our customers feel like they’re in this car?
Think of the journey
When people use our product, they’re in a situation with particular goals, deadlines and things to remember. Be mindful of these when designing.
Try to think about flows and jobs to be done instead of pages and views. A single page is like a moment frozen in time, but the experience we’re building for is more like a fluid motion.
Don’t make them think
Remember, users spend most of their time on other sites. People expect things to work the same way here as they do elsewhere. “Intuitive design” often just means “things I recognize and know how to use”.
We should not assume that what’s obvious to us is also obvious to our users.
Build with consistency
Our autonomous company structure has allowed creativity to spark… but sometimes unnecessarily, causing confusion or wasting time for customers. We want to use consistent patterns for visuals, interaction, language, tone of voice, etc.
2. Innovate, where it matters
We love building entirely new things, in new ways. But the trick is to know when and where to innovate. Many times the best practices are out there for pretty good reasons. We should understand why, before we make things our own way.
Consider the innovation cost
When we founded this company, we wanted to reinvent everything. Some of those inventions are things we still have to maintain today, years later. Whether it’s within product, engineering, or HR, innovations are great but they also slow us down. So we have to understand what they can cost — what’s our innovations budget, for any given feature?
§3. Work close to our customers
Our mission is empathy, and Lookback is understanding user experiences. So it’s very important that we get this right ourselves.
We should realize that what we do is all about conversations. Whether that’s product and research, or sales and support. Just announcing new features, blogging, tweeting, but not meeting, researching and analyzing, won’t lead to success.
We have some amazingly empathetic and well-spoken customers that really care about our mission and company. We should honor them and treat them well, and learn from them every day.
Teach, don’t sell
We don’t want to be the company that feels like pushy salespeople whenever you talk to us. But we also want people to get maximum value out of our product and buy more from us. By teaching how to conduct user research and how use a tool like Lookback in general, we can often achieve both.
§4. Build in small iterations
aka “Build small, think big”
It’s tempting to imagine exactly how the next feature should operate, before even building any part of it. But we need to be disciplined about building the smallest iteration possible, in order to test the results continuously.
It requires time and skill to figure out how to cut a release into small parts. But the alternative is to build something too large that never sees the light of day.
As our ex-colleague from Spotify, Erik Bernhardsson, says:
One of the most scary things in software engineering is “inventory” of code that builds up without going into production. It represents deployment risk, but also risk of building something users don’t want. Not to mention lost user value from not shipping parts of the feature earlier (user value should be thought of as feature value integrated over time, not as the feature value at the end state).
§5. Protect our customers’ privacy and data
We have been trusted with incredibly important data. Our first priority is to keep this data safe.
Further, we must protect the privacy of everyone involved in the user research — in particular the research participants, who may or may not be very tech-savvy.
Example: We won’t allow customers to start recording participant’s screen and face without clear consent.
§6. Quality is our middle name
As we’ve learned, not investing enough in quality leads to an unreliable product. Especially when working with streaming media across thousands of devices.
We shouldn’t ship to production unless we’re highly confident that what we have works. And after deploying, we should keep monitoring.
Involve customers during development
We can’t just do this while designing. Or else they are the ones who may sit with bad quality when we shipped something that we thought was rock solid, but wasn’t.
Proper testing relies on us keeping ourselves up to date on which features are most important to customers, and how frequently they’re used.
It’s not done until it’s done
And finally… wanting things to be done doesn’t mean they’re done. There’s usually some bug, help section article or checklist item you’ve forgotten about. Move fast, but think slow.
7. Treat humans excellently
Finally, we’re in this business to empower people. We shouldn’t build a product that is one-sided, unethical, biased, etc. People should be treated fairly, have equal rights, etc. We could easily employ dark patterns, screw users over, etc, but we shouldn’t.
We should communicate with respect and kindness in every interaction with our company. One should feel welcomed here, and that’s the end of it.
So that’s it! What do you think? And which ones are we missing? Let us know on Twitter.