Monthly Archives: April 2013

New Product Managers: How a Simple UX Project is a Great Way to Get Started

Congratulations; you are a new product manager! Product managers need to pick the brains of existing users and potential users of products. They need to understand the different personas of users. They need to understand pain points of using the product and looking at the product. They need to have users that they can ask clarifying questions over the course of a year. If a new product manager does a simple UX project (like this one), she will have all those things early.

 

Recruiting

Recruit 5 expert users of the product. Recruit 5 users familiar with the product. Recruit 5 potential users of the product.

 

Questions

Have the participants answer a few questions about themselves and then have them complete about 10 common tasks using the product. Ask their name, age, and any other relevant demographical data. Ask their experience level: (a) I’ve never used it and never seen it, (b) I’ve never used it, but I’ve seen it, (c) I’ve used it once or twice, or (d) I’ve used it weekly or more often. Have them briefly take a look at the product. What do they think it is there to do?

 

Tasks

Start using a screen capture tool. I’ve used Screenr and CamStudio, and both are acceptable. Screenr is better. If data security is a concern, be careful with what you’re recording and where you’re storing it. Ask them to perform ten tasks. This should not take them more than 30 minutes.

 

More questions

Ask them, on a scale of one to ten, how easy it is to use a product. Ask them how the product could be improved.

 

Conclusions

The most difficult parts of the project will be fine-tuning the script and recruiting the users. Both of these activities are very valuable to a new product manager. By watching the recordings, figure out how long it took them to perform tasks. Look for patterns in the problems the participants experienced. Look at the quotes from participants and use them. Lastly, write a short paper with recommendations on UX improvements and translate the recommendations into business requirements and functional stories.

 

For more information on product management and UX, read the Product Guy Daily. I publish it every morning.

10 Consequences of Having Product Managers as Primary Testers

Sometimes a product manager is asked to do things like testing to help software development processes. This is especially true for product management job titles like product owners, business analysts, product analysts, etc. What about when the product manager is the primary tester? Sure, there are reasons why it can be a good thing. First and foremost, it is a great way for a product manager to understand the product and how it is used. However, I wanted to focus on the limitations of this arrangement. I’ve compiled a few of the consequences that arise from having product managers as the primary testers. These include impacts on the development process, conflicts of interest, and impacts on the performance of the product manager.

 

Impacts on the Development Process

  • The turnstile. Using the product manager as a tester is to have one person be the action person for too many parts of the process. You’ll be at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the team’s work. In this flow, the product manager naturally becomes a bottleneck.
  • The weird smell. You’ll be less likely to investigate something that passes, but passes oddly (something’s not right). In an ideal world, an engineer or tester should investigate the weird smell. A product manager probably doesn’t have the expertise or the time.
  • The importance of testing. Testing is a full-time job (usability testing, performance testing, load testing, security testing, etc.). Doesn’t there need to be a dedicated person doing this job?
  • The stuntman argument. If you’re an actor, you may not want to do your own stunts because it takes away work from a stuntman. Same argument here: you’re taking away experience from a junior engineer.

 

Conflicts of Interest

  • Pulled in different directions. Product managers should want to ship the product as soon as possible; testers should want to send problems back to engineers to ensure quality. Product managers who test face tough decisions on what is important.
  • Scope creep. The product manager will have the ability to sneak in additional requirements to get it perfect. It’s always very tempting for a product manager to do.
  • Perfectionism. Being the finder of bugs makes you more likely to delay a launch to address a defect. After all, finding and squashing the bugs is what a good tester does.

 

Impacts on Your Performance as a Product Manager

  • Less time for your day job. You’ll have less time to interface with customers. Understanding customers is probably the most important thing for a product manager to do.
  • Different mindset. Testing puts you more in the details, and less with the overall vision. Testing every day can shift focus away from developing the 3-year big picture, or at least developing the big picture with an open mind.
  • One more way to be wrong. As the product manager, you’ll be the throat to choke for starting late. As the tester, you’ll be the throat to choke for the launch being delayed. Why open yourself up to more potential criticism?

 

 

What do you think about product management and testing? Leave a comment!

 

For more information on product management, read the Product Guy Daily. I publish it every morning.

40 Marketing Superstars to Follow on Twitter

I’ve compiled a list of marketing superstars that I follow on Twitter. Follow these people to stay current on marketing in 2013!

 

1. Pam Moore @PamMktgNut 50% mktg 50% geek, CEO entrepreneur social business strategist, speaker, author, lover of God Family Friends Beach & Life! Forbes TOP 10 Social Media Influencer · Orlando, FL · http://www.pammarketingnut.com

2. Shelly Kramer @ShellyKramer Marketing/brand strategist, idea generator, digital content magician, scribbler, information junkie. Luv MilkDuds+Beer. Member of Oversharers Anonymous. · Kansas City, MO · http://www.v3im.com

3. Kerry O’Shea Gorgone @KerryGorgone JD/MBA. Marketing Professor @fullsail. Speaker. Writer: @MarketingProfs, @smxplorer, {grow} blog, @HuffingtonPost, @entmagazine, @B2Community & more · Orlando, FL · huffingtonpost.com/kerry-oshea-gorgone

4. Ann Tran @AnnTran_ Social media consultant & travel & tech writer. Lover of nature & wine. Forbes Top10 Social Media Influencer.Verizon® #VZWBuzz
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ann-tran/  · Washington, D.C. · http://ann-tran.com/

5. CIO White Papers @CIOWhitePapers Free Industry White Papers and Reports in Cloud Computing, Business Intelligence, Social Media, CRM, ERP and Enterprise Marketing Technologies. · Los Angeles · http://ciowhitepapers.com

6. Rick Bakas @RickBakas Husband » Former NIKE brand guy » VP Mktg at Mobile Payments co. @PressPay » Sommelier » Founder of @BakasMedia » Obsessed w/ wine & food » Connector · Sonoma, CA · rickbakas.com/about-2

7. Brooke Griffin @BrookeGriffin_
#Business
#Marketing
#Inspiration Social Media Producer. Brand Strategist. Speaker | Music | Health | Fitness Fanatic | ‘Do What You Love~Excel at that.’ · San Diego + Los Angeles, CA · http://brookehgriffin.com/

8. Lori Taylor @lorirtaylor REV Media Marketing llc, You Bring The Rain, We Make It Pour. Mother of 5 & URL Junkie! #CEO
#Author
#SocialMedia
#Video
#Facebook
#Twitter Tips. · OH, NYC, CA · http://www.lorirtaylor.com

9. Michael R.H. Stewart @jerichotech Marketing futurist and Internet executive with over 21 years of broad experience in all aspects of online business, Social Media, and company management. · Scottsdale Arizona · http://www.jerichotechnology.com

10. Mike Allton @mike_allton Social Media and Internet Marketing consultant for small to medium businesses. Specialties include #SocialMedia, #Blogging, #SEO and #minestrone soup. · St. Louis, MO · http://www.TheSocialMediaHat.com

11. Ian Huckabee @WeejeeMedia Social strategist and technologist specializing in social media, learning and training. I’m a writer. As you feel your way along, feel good. · Chapel Hill / New York · http://weejeemedia.com

12. Rebekah Radice @RebekahRadice Social Media Marketing, Strategist, Branding, Blogger, Speaker, Trainer @BHGRealEstate | Coffee addict, sunshine lover & nuts about my 2 pups! · Los Angeles, CA · http://rebekahradice.com

13. Laura E. Pence @SocialSavvyGeek RVA Online Marketing Company specializing in Social Media! Conversation online. Savvy? · Richmond, VA, USA #RVA · http://SocialSavvyGeek.com

14. April Dunford @aprildunford Co-founder of RocketScope http://rocketscope.com  a marketing accelerator and analyst firm. Startup marketing blogger at RocketWatcher. · Toronto · http://rocketwatcher.com

15. Peter Collins @Peter_Collins_ | Years of IT as Techie and Management | Marketing and Communication | International Sportsman | Cooking and wine | fan of Keith Floyd | not Pink · United Kingdom · http://socialmediamarketeers.imrtl.com/

16. Megan Leap @MeganLeap Marketing Director @OMInstitute. Love tech, marketing, good food, great wine, running marathons, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. · South Florida/San Francisco · meganleap.com

17. Ann Handley @MarketingProfs Head of Content here at ‘Profs. People seem to like my writing: http://www.contentrulesbook.com 
http://www.annhandley.com  · Boston, Massachusetts · http://www.marketingprofs.com

18. William J. Ward @DR4WARD Social Media Professor in @NewhouseSU at @SyracuseU – Digital, Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations, Journalism, Higher Ed, Innovation, Creativity, Design · Syracuse, New York · http://www.DR4WARD.com

19. Dennis Shiao @dshiao Director, Product Marketing at @INXPO and #Author of a lead generation book (http://amzn.to/cqadOu ). Sharing (hopefully) useful info, one tweet at a time. · San Mateo, CA · http://allvirtual.me

20. Giles Farrow @SmartSoftMarket Helping Software Companies and Startups improve their Marketing. Tweets on #ProdMktg
#Startup
#Software
#Marketing. http://smartsoftwaremarketing.co.uk/ · West Sussex, UK · http://smartsoftwaremarketing.co.uk/

21. Carol Phillips @carol_phillips Notre Dame Marketing professor; Brand strategist; President independent market research & consulting firm, Brand Amplitude; #Millennials are my passion. · Michigan · http://www.brandamplitude.com

22. SEO.com @seocom Want to rank better in Google? Check out our services. Follow us for the best information about SEO, SEM and inbound marketing. Tweets by @Bebabz · Utah · http://www.seo.com

23. Beverly Macy @BeverlyMacy
#SMMUCLA 310-860-4788; beverlymacy at gmail; Blog @HuffPo; Author: The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing; Business Meets the Power of Social Media · Los Angeles, CA 90210 · http://www.gravitysummit.com

24. Bri Clark @Bri_Clark
#realtimesocialghoster
#marketingstrategist, owner of @belleconsult, #speaker, #author, #sassoligist, #belletip, #socialmediamarketor
#blogger
#strategist · Boise ID · http://briclarkthebelleofboise.blogspot.com

25. You Brand @YouBrandInc You have business challenges, we have answers. We help you achieve business breakthroughs and amplify it with digital marketing. · Minneapolis · http://www.youbrandinc.com

26. Joshua Duncan @joshua_d Tech marketing, busy dad, most likely hungry. Director of Product Management and Marketing @NoesisEnergy. · Austin, TX · http://www.arandomjog.com/

27. Carol Lynn Rivera @CarolLynnRivera Editor of Web.Search.Social. Business owner, collector of interesting people. Let’s talk marketing, books, food, inspiration and other delicious things. · Holmdel, NJ · http://www.websearchsocial.com

28. Bethany Simpson @bethanysimpson LA marketing director and video host with equal interest in creativity and logic / http://imediaconnection.com · Los Angeles

29. Pamela Konstantakis @pamelakonst Marketer, social media enthusiast, fashionista, dog lover, PSU Alum · USA

30. Christian Wig @christianwig Business and technology strategies, innovation and entrepreneurship. Combining #entarch and #businessmodel to prepare a #bizarch for the unknown. · Oslo · http://christianwig.com/about.html

31. Andrea Moe @AndreaMoe ENTP, dog lover, iPhone & iPad addict, experimental cocktail mixer, football chick, mother of a teenager, OH! and I do a little product managing and marketing · Atlanta

32. Peter McCarthy @petermccarthy Founder and Principal Consultant, McCarthy Digital. Working at the intersection of publishing, technology, and marketing. · Croton-on-Hudson, NY · http://www.mccarthy-digital.com

33. Ubaid Saleem @Ubaid_Saleem Digital executive. Tweets abt Product Mgmt, Strategy, Customer Exp, Innovation, Leadership, Management & Marketing. Love tech, gadgets & SciFi. Opinions my own. · Northern Virginia

34. Jennifer Doctor @jidoctor Passionate experienced Product Marketing & Management leader … & lifelong Red Sox fan! (Views expressed are mine.) · Delray Beach, FL · http://www.outsideinview.com

35. Steve Rotter @sjrotter Entrepreneur, Evangelist, Author, Family Man, & VP Marketing @brightcove. Fascinated by great marketing, data visualization and building digital brands.

36. Sally Duda @SallyOutLoud Marketing Operations Manager; coffee lover; wannabe singer; thinks out loud. · Greater Philadelphia Area

37. Noelene Mostert @NoeleneMostert Marketing Manager @quirkagency, wine diva, rugby fanatic, baking enthusiast, closet tree hugger and digitally curious in general. Follow me! · Johannesburg

38. Keith Hamrick @keithremarks Product #Marketing Manager @SAP. Excited by the #extreme, fascinated by the #mysterious. Passionate about #technology. Avid #triathlete. Tweets are mine. · San Francisco

39. Mathieu Hannouz @repackaged Technology is good. Understanding customers is better. Specifying biz cases that drive value is best! This is what I do. Sr Product/Marketing Manager @neolane · Boston, MA · http://about.me/repackaged

40. Tom Evans @compellingpm Helping companies identify compelling market opportunities, create compelling products and define compelling go-to-market strategies. · Austin, TX · compellingpm.com

 

Who else should people follow? Leave a comment!

13 Factors to Consider in Adopting New Customer-Facing Products and Services

I’ve been looking at what organizations should consider when adopting new technological solutions, and it got me thinking. Which factors need to be considered in the research and implementation of new customer-facing products and services? Here is a checklist that you can go through during your evaluation of new technologies:

 

Security

  • Will new products and services pose any risk to data security? If a user were to log in and have her personal information compromised, this would be a disaster!

Stability

  • Will new technology solutions have outages? Many of today’s technologies are “up” for less than 99% of the time. Is this acceptable? Is there something else that users can use if the solution goes down?
  • And will they strain other technologies we use? Some software types “sit on top of” existing systems and occasionally cause them to go down.

Performance

  • Consider the performance for the product or service. Will users feel it is dramatically slower than Google or Amazon?

Functionality

  • Are the features going to be there on Day 1 or will users experience iterations to get to full functionality?
  • Is there broken functionality in the product or service? Ownership: whose problem is it to fix? Accountability: to what extent is it our throat that is going to get choked when there is a problem?
  • One-size-fits-all and one-search-fits-all: should search software work out of the box for 60% of users or 99% of users? Specialists may be alienated if the general search tool is optimized for laypeople (and vice versa).

UX

  • Is a new technology-based product or service going to change the UX of other services? Major changes to your online presence have major implications for users. Even changes that are seen as very positive by most will frustrate some.
  • For a potential product or service, at what point will UX assessment be possible? Can you do UX assessment before making a large investment in resources?
  • Will the UX for mobile users change?
  • Redesigning the user interface to incorporate a new product or service is risky, and most organizations avoid drastic changes. Look at the CNN redesign model…

2000:

2003:

2008:

2011:

2013:

Impact on employees

  • What will new technology mean for existing employees’ job responsibilities? Is there currently expertise in the organization or will new positions be required? For those affected, will their other job responsibilities be lessened or changed?

Collaboration

  • Will the implementation of new products and services open doors for collaboration with other organizations? Could nearby organizations share costs with us? Do we want to work with those guys?

Resource usage patterns

  • Will new products and services change the current usage of your organization’s resources? Will end users incur the extra costs?

Hosting

  • Where does new technology live? The days of organizations having to buy/lease/maintain servers are coming to an end. Software companies offer SaaS solutions. Cloud companies like AWS can cheaply offer huge amounts of virtualized space. Due to cloud computing, initial development investments can be $$$, instead of $$$$.

Organizational priorities

  • How do potential new products and services address your organization’s priorities?
  • What is a new technology’s impact on ideal of being green? Is there a reduction in data usage? Does the fact that someone else is hosting it make it green?

Sustainability

  • Will new technologies remain sustainable? Sure, we can afford to have them now, but what about ten years from now? If organizational priorities change in a few years, will we still be locked into supporting the product or service?

Scalability

  • Will new technologies be scalable as usage grows?
  • Will new technologies be scalable as the organization grows?

Getting the word out

  • So let’s say we did implement a new technology-based product or service…how would we tell people about it? What is the marketing strategy?

 

What other factors should an organization consider? Leave a comment!

Why Librarians Should Blog about Their Experiences with Software Products

As a librarian, do you look for online commentaries on software when you’re considering implementing a piece of software? And do you find a lot of information out there? I’m an advocate for more online commentary on software. Here are some reasons why librarians should blog and micro-blog (tweet) about their experiences with software products:

 

Filling the void. There is an astounding lack of librarian commentary on software on the web.

Librarians are not all the same. Different librarians use software in different ways. Show readers how you’re using it.

Trust. Librarians will trust other librarians more than sales folks.

Broken functionality. All library software has bugs, but are the defects a light breeze or a hurricane? My new favorite graphic for broken functionality:

Stability. Many of today’s products are up for less than 99% of the time. There just aren’t a lot of ways to find out about product stability, and a blog/micro-blog seems like a good start for informing colleagues.

Lack of a watchdog. Articles on software in the library trade journals are often word-for-word repeats of press releases.

Buyer’s remorse. Reading a blog is a good way to find out about unexpected experiences or a bad implementation.

Justification of pricing. Online reviews help justify (or un-justify) the price of the product. It can help justify the reader in asking for a discount.

Increased duties. Readers can find out how library software impacts librarians’ job duties. Ideally, software takes pressure off librarians and increases automation. What are some of the new duties that you’ve experienced with the software you’re now using? Are any of the new job duties a surprise?

Scalability. You can find out how scalable a library technology is. Can a large library system handle the product? If a system larger than the reader is doing well, then it’s a good sign for the reader who is considering the product.

Collaboration. Maybe a reader from another library will want to collaborate with you. You both use Product X, so maybe you can share some of the costs by forming some sort of alliance.

Career advancement. Having blogged thoughtfully about software may make you a better candidate for a technical position.

 

You can read about the things that librarians care about at Library Science Daily. I publish it every morning.

 

Do you have a blog or Twitter handle that you’d like my readers to know about? Leave a comment!