Edition 7

The one about handling user feedback.

I had this newsletter planned a few weeks ago, but with the current state of things going on I felt compelled to rewrite most of it.

On the previous edition touched on how we measure retention at Ânimo. That post got some good internet visibility and the number of new subscribers has just blown me away. Since I've been using this newsletter to collect and share important product principles, I've decided to rename the newsletter to … Product Principles. 😊

This edition is about understanding and processing user feedback, more specifically knowing what and who to listen to.

Below are my 5 tips on handling user feedback:

  1. Understand that you might be getting feedback from the wrong customer segment. My two favourite examples of this are the iPod launch and Dropbox

    User feedback regarding the iPod launch, posted on a very prominent tech website:

"At an invitation only event Apple has released their new MP3 player called the iPod. iPod is the size of a deck of cards. 2.4" wide by 4" tall by .78" thick 6.5 ounces. 5 GB HDD, 10 hr battery life, charged via FireWire. Works as a firewire drive as well. Works in conjunctions with iTunes 2. Here are Live updates. No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.”

HN user commenting about Dropbox

I have a few qualms with this app:

1. For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially by getting an FTP account, mounting it locally with curlftpfs, and then using SVN or CVS on the mounted filesystem. From Windows or Mac, this FTP account could be accessed through built-in software.

You can read the rest here

In short: Not everyone gets it, and that's ok. You can't be something for everyone before you're something to someone.

  1. What does the data say?
    Feedback is only one side of the story and it should be complemented with accurate data that can stand on its own. What doesn't get measured becomes politics. Find key metrics that can support or contest qualitative data. Be data informed not data driven.

  2. Identify problems, not solutions

    This is an issue that I've talked about before on this newsletter, and I've seen it come up during phone calls with PMs at other tech companies: At some point the user starts suggesting features and makes demands. As a PM you're responsible for the solution, not the user. It's important to dig deeper and understand why/what is really being asked. It's your role as the PM to ask why, drill down on the problem and figure out the most efficient solution.

  3. Feedback should be used to remove the rough edges of your product. Not completely rewrite the vision.

  4. It's more important to show that you're listening rather than just taking everything in as gospel. Users should feel that you are constantly improving the app.

    If user interviews are difficult for you at work, I've created a User Interview Framework that I've polished over the past few years. It's an actionable primer to asking better questions. It's super easy to use and you can download it here, 30% off with promocode newsletter.

Tech and Black Lives Matter

Trump x Twitter (and Silicon Valley)

2020 so far has delivered strange experience after strange experience.
The latest was Twitter flagging the WhiteHouse's and Trump's tweet as glorifying violence. Trump predictably moved out to make Twitter (and the rest of Silicon Valley) as an example and signed an executive order involving the FCC. The executive order removes some legal protections used by tech companies. Benedict Evans summarized it really well: “…communications providers are not liable for things said on their systems, as long as they try to remove illegal content (such as copyright infringement and CSAM). Without this, you could sue Gmail, or an ISP, if criminals used email - this has been called 'the clause that created the modern internet'.”

Facebook employees criticize Zuckerberg's inaction (2 min read)

Facebook (and Zuck) have been surprisingly remiss about the whole debacle. Fortunately some prominent FB employees are speaking out on their own accord, which is also very atypical.

In my opinion, I think Zuck has decided to move the opposite way than Twitter. They have a large conservative user base, and with upcoming elections I think they're hesitant to lose all the political ad money.

Should tech companies censor certain types of content? Then again, this means that if you start censoring now you're automatically responsible for everything that is posted on your platform. You can no longer use the “I'm just an aggregator” card, and I think that is what Zuck is trying to avoid.

Social media platforms are in a delicate position at the moment. By nature of their product, Zuck and co absolutely are making decisions on what is newsworthy…and at the same time have to accept that usage has become completely weaponized (if the subject interests you, LikeWar - The weaponization of Social Media is easily the best book on the subject).

I'm glad to see employees speaking out. If I were 2020 Zuck I'd be more concerned about losing top talent than revenue.

Remote is the new platform

Just like mobile, VR and etc.
Working from home forever looks more like a reality now than ever before.
Tech companies (FB, Slack, Shopify and Twitter) were among the first to make the full leap:

Twitter will allow employees to work from home forever


Interesting links

Fantastic piece of investigative journalism on how US courts use a legal loophole called “qualified immunity” to prevent police officer prosecution.
Some(read: all) of the videos are disturbing.

John Maeda's 2020 Customer Experience report
There's a 13.5 min video on the website which synthesizes really well the relationship between marketing, product and customer experience.

Dark Patterns: Past, Present, Future - The evolution of tricky user interfaces:

You've seen them out in the wild: Countless steps to cancel an order, price deception… This is a great almanac of dark patterns used in some of the biggest consumer facing products.

Daniel Ek (Spotify CEO) talks about the impact of Covid on streaming (24 mins)

It's been a busy year for Spotify, besides executing a 100M licensing deal with Joe Rogan it has become a lifeline for many artists during quarantine. Interesting stat: Live concerts, which usually happen during the summer, represent almost 80% of musician revenue

Quote of the week:

Not a quote, but a 2017 message from Arnold Schwarzenegger after the 2017 Charlottesville racist rally. Unfortunately still very applicable.

Wishing you a great week,