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A good project manager: urgency, frame & context, clear thinking, data driven, decisive, good judgment, good attitude

Design & UX: interaction, visual, prototyping, testing. Interplay between users, QA, designers, builders

Right Product vs Product Right

  • keep engineering involved early
  • keep design & prod involved late
  • smallest viable product first
  • minimize churn once dev starts
  • flush out questions early

Product Manager:

  • Give 20% for dev to rewrite and refactor
  • Customer empathy & product passion
  • Hard working & take work home - it’s a holistic problem
  • Integrity
  • Confidence - attitude
  • Know the tech
  • Focus on the main thing
  • Manage time & distinguish between important and not
  • Good writer and speaker
  • Product management is tough & everything rides on ‘em - choose wisely
  • Tell design & dev what product needs to do - let them solve it
  • Give fellow employees anonymous shoutouts. Describe under appreciated people and strengths

Managing and management

  • Measure and plan for churn, but minimize churn
  • Product opportunities
    • What will this solve?
    • Target market
    • Market size
    • How do we measure success
    • Competition
    • Why us? Differentiator
    • Why now?
    • Product-to-market strategy
    • What’s critical to success
    • Go or no go?

Discovery vs Execution

  • Once in execution mode, minimize invention and churn
  • If need be, start a parallel 2.0 version once 1.0 goes into build mode

Product Council

  • Keep to 10 or less
  • Milestone 1: select opportunities to be investigated
  • Milestone 2: review & issue go/no-go
  • Milestone 3: Review prototypes, test results, cost estimates
  • Milestone 4: review final product, QA, launch status
  • Charter user program (beta testers)
    • They don’t pay you for it
    • Don’t just let everyone in - be choosy & get the right folks
    • If nobody wants in, your product sucks
    • Make sure they’re your target market (not early adopter)
    • Reinforce that it’s not a custom solution
    • Treat them as colleagues
  • Market research
    • Use surveys, analytics, data mining, over-the-shoulder watching, competitive * analysis
    • Product discovery is: what tech can we use to solve this problem in a better way, * what should the experience be?
    • Winning products come from deep understanding of needs and capabilities
    • Focus groups suck because: customers don’t know what’s possible or what they want
    • Use personas and try to be in customers’ shoes


  • Should describe interaction
  • Represent behavior
  • Communicate requirements to all groups (qa, eng., etc.)
  • Needs to be a single master spec
  • Use a hi-fi prototype - not a massive Word doc

Design & Implementation

  • Don’t do UX & implementation simultaneously
  • Don’t wait for beta to test designs
  • Prototype software should be easily trashed & changed in hours
  • UX can’t be stubbed out like code
  • Designers can be pressured for time & deliver half-baked UX
  • Keep engineering the the loop to assess feasibility

Minimal Product

  • Product manager and designer come up with prototype of minimum functionality
  • Engineering should represent to point out pitfalls & constraints
  • Test prototype with target users
  • This forces you to think upfront about min. product & you can’t severely cut or change * later on
  • Only then do you start building & slip release if snagged


  • Feasibility testing: what’s possible and what does it cost?
  • Usability testing: test on real people
  • Value testing: is it valuable?


  • Round up test subjects
  • Define tasks to test
  • Start them from zero - don’t provide extra context. This lets you see how they think * about the problem outside of your solution
  • See if they can figure out what it does & how it works at first glance - or if they * notice the important parts
  • Only now do you begin having a conversation
  • Ask about net promoter. Would they recommend it? If so, you’ve got value
  • Ask how much they’d pay for it
  • Ask what they’d expect to happen if they hit a dead end

Prototyping/Testing Environment

  • Record them if possible
  • Go to their office
  • Face-to-face is preferable
  • Product manager should be there - don’t delegate this
  • One administers, another takes notes
  • Don’t butter users up - you want an untainted opinion
  • You’re testing a prototype - your feelings won’t be hurt, & they can’t pass/fail - * only the prototype
  • You’re testing use & value - not design
  • Keep quiet
  • Either they a) did it easily, b) hunted but eventually did it or c) gave up
  • Don’t lead the witness
  • No running narration of what they’re thinking
  • Parrot them
  • You’re looking for problems spots - inconsistent with how they think
  • +/- 6 users that can do the taks is a signal that it works
  • Unusable/unclear doesn’t equal failure - you’ve saved a ton of time and resources

Improving Existing Products

  • Decide what metrics are important & breathe them
  • Analytics & changes that actually move the needle
  • Study & work the numbers

Gentle Deployment

  • Don’t be too disruptive with releases
  • Parallel deployment - opt in to the new style (or the reverse)

Rapid Response

  • Don’t quit after launch
  • Assume there will be issues & be prepared to handle them

Agile Success

  • Product manager is product owner - anything else is folly
  • Stay 1 or 2 sprints ahead of team
  • Break work into small, manageable chunks
  • Let engineering break work up however they see fit
  • Manager/owner & UX at every standup - constant previewing & presenting
  • End of sprint doesn’t necessarily = launch - product has to be ready & gentle deploy * considered
  • Make sure everyone understands agile

Large Companies

  • It’s harder there
  • Big companies are risk-averse
  • Skunk works & just get it done

Fear, Greed, & Lust

  • Understand the human side of a product
  • Try to speak more directly to these emotions


  • Have a product manager
  • UX is all-important
  • Assess before jumping in
  • Charter users
  • Product principles
  • Personas
  • Discovery: value, usable, feasible
  • Prototype
  • Test prototype with real users
  • Measure to improve - not just by adding features

Always Ask

  • Is it compelling
  • Is it easy to use as humanly possible?
  • Will it succeed against future competition
  • Do I know people who’ll really buy this?
  • Is it truly different?
  • Will it actually work?
  • Is it a whole product, consistent with how we’ll sell it?
  • Are the strengths lined up with what’s important? Are we working those strengths?
  • Is it worth the money?
  • Are my views inline with the rest of the team about what’s important?