March 4, 2020

Product launches, decoded

Image of Fleets feature on twitter

Tech company newsrooms are one of the best places to learn about product. Once you get past some of the marketing language, you get to hear about the key problems their users are facing, and how they have built solutions to help.

I’ve read through three recent product launches from Uber, Spotify and Twitter and extracted the key problems and features they have shipped against them. For simplicity, I’ve used a basic hypothesis / prediction model.

Of course, in reality there are far more inputs than user behavior, but it’s a fun exercise, and the problems can provide inspiration for your own side projects. For example, the fact that twitter relies on public sharing, yet sharing things publicly is inherently intimidating, is an awesome insight to riff on.

What they shipped…

Uber - Making pickups more seamless, Feb 27, 2019

Hypothesis: For a seamless pickup, we believe it’s important for riders and drivers to clearly communicate with each other. We’ve noticed that for drivers whose primary language isn’t English, and for riders who are traveling abroad, language can impact how you communicate on the app.

Prediction: If we provide a translation tool, that helps a rider or driver instantly translate a message into their preferred language, it will be easier to stay in touch as your ride is en route or arriving.

Spotify - Helping users access and navigate music more easily, Feb 27, 2019

Hypothesis: We believe many users navigate Spotify with one hand. Depending on the size of your device, it can be uncomfortable to access different actions like play/download with one hand.

Prediction: If we group key actions (like play/download) in a row at the central part of the screen, it will be more comfortable to use and play music on Spotify.

Hypothesis: We believe one of the barriers to easy music navigation, is the time it takes to recognize the song/artist title. It’s tough to quickly find the song you liked in playlist with 200+ songs.

Prediction: If we include cover art in the track row, it will make it easier to navigate the app and find familiar songs.

Twitter - Help people share thoughts publicly, March 4, 2019

Hypothesis: Tweeting can feel intimidating because tweets can be seen and replied to by anyone, and there’s a performative element (how many likes/retweets this will get.) We believe this anxiety holds users back from talking on twitter.

Prediction: If we let users share fleets’ that disappear after 24 hours and can’t receive likes, retweets or replies, users will feel less anxious and share fleeting thoughts that they would have been unlikely to tweet.

So, next time you see a press release, don’t roll your eyes, read it closely and think about the decisions/tradeoffs behind every new feature or design iteration.


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