Product managers are facing all sorts of challenges today. They are navigating a difficult economic climate and trying to integrate new transformative technologies all on top of managing their product roadmaps and responding to bugs. With all of these competing priorities PMs really can't afford to miss with their next product release.
During transformational times like these we like to turn to the experts for their advice on what's worked for them in their careers, what hasn't, and what you can do to prepare for what's next.
We sat down with Dan Levine, Partner at Accel, and Yuhki Yamashita, Chief Product Officer at Figma, to get their take on key learnings from their career that can help you in yours.
*In some cases, these quotes have been summarized.
Learning 1: Metrics can't replace user feedback
Yuhki Yamashita discussing Product @ Uber:
Metrics are crucial to keeping a pulse on how your product and business are performing. While they are critical to your day-to-day, they cannot replace the importance of user feedback in understanding the overall user experience. Yuhki shared an example of Uber’s experience in India, where the Product team could not rely only on globally defined metrics to understand to understand rider pick-up and drop-off success.
The metrics showed that drivers were having to call their riders often (typically a bad sign for the easy pick up they are known for) but through user feedback they learned that it's convention for drivers to call the rider ahead of time. Looking at the metric of driver calls alone as an indicator of the customer’s experience didn’t show the full picture; user feedback was critical in revealing the nuances of what makes a good pickup.
“Ratings were really important because at the end of the day, we don't have that many signals as to how good that driver/rider experience really was, right? We would always debate metrics like ‘What made a good pickup?’ We came up with crazy metrics like ‘How often did the driver need to call the rider?’ ‘What is the distance between the pin and where the driver actually picked up the rider?’ At the end of the day, there are just so many circumstances around why? And oftentimes, even though the metric says it looked like a bad pick‑up, it was actually a good one. For example, we learned in India that it’s actually convention for drivers to call the rider ahead of time so the rider would come down. Those interactions, even at scale, you can’t really understand unless you get the human input. And that's why both the rider and driver rating each other is really important."
Good reminder that users are human, and their experiences can't always be reduced to data points.
Learning 2: Incorporate multiple sources of feedback in your product development process.
Figma is lucky to have an incredibly engaged Twitter community. They have over 350k followers and even full accounts (not affiliated with Figma) that are dedicated to teaching you how to use their vastly popular tool. To say that their DMs are a valuable source of feedback would be an understatement. Yuhki and the Figma team, while highly valuing their social community's input, also recognized the importance of looking beyond Twitter to gather feedback from users who might not be as vocal. One of the first steps Yuhki took at Figma was to build out research and data science teams to welcome multiple sources of insights and to encourage balance and debate among numerous points of view.
“When I joined (Figma) the first hire I made was our head of research and a lot of that was motivated by this idea and this observation that, it's great that we have this amazing connection with our community, but we really need to look at all the different channels and proactively talk to the people not saying anything on Twitter."
Learning 3: Innovate efficiently through testing and prototyping in tough times.
Innovation is challenging, especially when resources are scarce and timelines are short. The best way to gain conviction is through prototyping ideas and sharing with your users for feedback to ensure whatever you build next hits the mark.
“We were just asking ourselves ‑ what’s our third product that we work on after Figma Design and FigJam? We just met about this and there was the classic last slide where we're like, ‘We need X more engineers to go build this thing.’ And we’re kind of looking around the room, ‘Where are these X engineers?’”
“Then it was great because Dylan (Figma CEO) turned around and said, ‘Hey, why don’t one or two engineers start to work on prototyping a few ideas and get it to a point where everyone internally loves it. And then, at that point, let's talk about scaling it.’”
We hope you took something away from Yuhki and Dan’s advice for innovating through change and you have some new ideas of how to tackle whatever challenge you face next. If you want our advice, staying close to your users is the best way to get great new ideas, and using Sprig is great way to do that. Sign up for a free account here.