Your very own product management toolkit (part 2)
Hello again! If you have been reading my previous posts, you are probably familiar with the Venn diagram I created to give a clear understanding of the different aspects and skills a PM focuses on in their role.
In my last article, I outlined three skills from the Effective Communication X User Empathy intersection.
Today let’s talk about Product Vision x User Empathy
Here is a quick reminder of the diagram we are referring to.
So many new ideas! So many pending features! So many improvements! and so many bugs to fix!
In an ideal world, we would want to do everything in parallel, however, we are always bound by two things which are not in our control, time and money.
The entire engineering team’s time and our company resources will certainly always be less than we want them to be. As a PM, it is our job to make sure that these are being used to their maximum efficiency.
This is where prioritisation comes in.
And it is one of the most important skills for this job.
By assessing the holistic situation of the team, the current trends and the specific KPIs we need to achieve, a PM needs to be able to prioritise everything on the backlog for maximum efficiency. We need to accept that not everything can be as perfect as we want it to, but try to make the best of the situation.
This can happen on every scale.
Imagine you are a new up and coming Travel booking service just starting out.
You would want to give your users the option to book hotels, book flights, rent cars and also some tours, experiences etc. The first thing you decided to implement was allowing the users to book hotels on your platform, and you decided that the next on the agenda would be Flights.
Fast forward to the end of your development sprint and you have finished the hotel booking functionality. Congratulations! Now according to the plan, and the next product offering you had decided was flights.
But the universe had something else in store for you and COVID happened.
Within weeks, the flights business is down, the international hotel business is also down. If your company is gearing for release soon, and you really need to start generating revenue, would it make sense to put any time and money on flights during this time? It’s a tough decision. Now the engineering team is waiting for the next project to work on.
As a PM, you need to consider everything around you and assess the situation and prioritise your features. One effect of COVID is that isolated domestic travel and nature travel has risen. This has lead to a lot of increase in car rentals in your target markets.
So if your current business goal is to increase traffic onto your service immediately, or generate revenue as soon as possible, then you might want to prioritise the car rental functionality and ship that instead of spending your resources and time on a feature that doesn’t bring you immediate benefits.
Product Managers make big and small prioritisations like these on a daily basis. And to be honest, it’s a skill that really comes in handy in personal life as well. You can always make better decisions about your activities, and tasks.
UX and Design
Since technology has become more standardized and some of the smartest minds are working every day to solve complex problems, we can be assured that our systems and functionality keep getting more and more sound with each passing day.
However, a solution to a complex problem needs to be made usable. If you cannot enable the user to easily be able to interact with your solutions, then it was, unfortunately, made in vain. And this is why so many great product companies invest so heavily in thereUX and UI and resources and give it equal importance in the development process.
Having an intuitive sense of UX and design is a really good skill for the PM to have. Especially if you are making consumer-facing products.
LinkedIn has some really interesting functionality regarding social networks and applying algorithms to show you relevant information based on what you like and who you are connecting with.
But to make all this amazing tech available for a new user, they need to make sure the user is properly integrated into their platform and submits all the accurate information to feed their algorithms. Eventually, their aim is that the user would enjoy the personalisation and network benefits of LinkedIn and would want to upgrade to their paid subscription for even more enhanced features.
But it’s hard and overwhelming to understand all these different fields and navigation through it all. And this is where good UX comes in. The way LinkedIn onboards its user is very simple and allows both the user and LinkedIn to achieve their goals through a structured user flow and easy to understand, yet aesthetic design.
Let’s journey through their onboarding process and see what is going on from user’s as well as LinkedIn’s perspectives.
The most important data points LinkedIn needs from any new user to kickstart its algorithm is their current job details if they are a working professional, or their university if they are a student.
We see a very simple call to action in big font, followed by the benefit the user would receive if they input that information.
Instead of having all the input fields in one long page (which would overwhelm the user), it is done in a step-by-step process, and keep the user engaged and feel rewarded for completing each step.
After the user has inputted their primary details, then LinkedIn asks for some further information which is not compulsory but is nice-to-have, like their current location, the profile photo. Sometimes you may not have a good photo on hand, so there is an option to skip this step for later. Small things like these really matter and show that there was a lot of user-related thought process behind this.
Finally, they end with another compulsory step which is the email verification. You can also see that they have provided easy navigation directly to the user’s default email app, to reduce any complexity and not break the smoothness of the onboarding.
By the time you have finished the first few steps, LinkedIn will already be able to find connections for you from your location, workplace, industry and even your university. Simultaneously you would also start showing up in other people’s networks and thus you have been integrated into LinkedIn, with minimum effort.
The PM and Designers did a great job to be able to really deliver the effectiveness of the strong APIs and algorithms that were developed by the engineering team.
To see an even more updated and detailed study of this check these articles out —
How does LinkedIn onboard its new users? — Bluespace
App Onboarding is a process that makes your users familiar with your app. This is what I’ve defined in my former…
LinkedIn Onboarding: A Critique
Recently, a distant relative of mine, who is starting his undergrad studies this year, reached out to me for a few tips…
Passion for Technology
Finally, to round out this intersection, a PM needs to live and breathe technology. You need to be curious, excited and appreciative of all the wonderful things technology can do.
A PM always keeps their eyes, ears and even their nose (lol) open for new ideas and technologies that can enable these ideas. You will be surrounded by tech for most of your time in this role and you need to be comfortable with it. So if this is something that comes naturally to you, then congratulations, you’ve won almost half the battle. Now you just simply need to stay up to date and think about how it can be beneficial to you.
A good way to do this is to always be on top of the tech news, read, watch, talk about it. When you hear about new services, apps, software, try to use it from both a user’s perspective as well as a Product Manager’s perspective. Learn from everything around you.
Ask people around you what apps they like and don't like, everyone from your grandfather to your 3-year-old cousin can provide invaluable insight.
One of the best websites to try out new products is
Product Hunt - The best new products in tech.
Product Hunt is a curation of the best new products, every day. Discover the latest mobile apps, websites, and…
Here you will find a variety of different products being showcased by the creators for interested users like us to test and comment on.
And with this, we have now discussed three more crucial skills a PM needs to have in order to succeed in their role.
I will cover the final three in my next post, so stay tuned.