Having spent the last 20 years in product management in a variety of business categories, the best experiences in that product development work have all centered on building and evolving simple ideas.
Now, that isn’t to say that a simple idea cannot grow and evolve into something with depth and complexity – it often does if it is successful – but it is overwhelmingly difficult to start out with depth and complexity and still be successful.
The dilemma of a new product idea is that most of the simple ones have already been done or tried! Finding green field product space in an increasingly competitive world of Kickstarter, startup incubators, and Shark Tank is a mix of luck and ever-evolving knowledge of consumer and technology trends.
In addition to simplicity of concept, what I have seen in the most successful products I’ve developed is that a balance of utility and fun-to-play-with are key. Utility gets you to try it. Fun to use keeps you coming back.
The Dinner Spinner app which I developed while at Allrecipes was a great example of that. From white-board to store in 8 weeks for the first iteration, and shot to the top of its category in the first month, stayed and the top for 5 years, and is still among the most popular recipe apps in for both Apple and Android. Since I’ve moved on they have even spun this product off into its own TV show!
Ever evolving technology for mobile, tablet, and web continue to create a powerful toolbox of UI ‘candy’ to employ, but also predicting how users expect to interact with a product – even if they haven’t come across anything like it before – helps to create that magic combination.
Over the last 5-10 years we’ve seen the lines blur between what could only be done in native applications and what could be done on web interfaces. While native applications still have their place, most cloud-based services are favoring web over native app, or creating MUCH thinner applications as a container to a mostly web-based product.
These trends work to the advantage of not only the product development professional, but also the end user who expects their interaction with a product or service to transition seamlessly, instantly, and elegantly from their desktop to the couch to their pocket. No longer is a mobile version of a product a “lite” version of a desktop experience, but a natural extension of that product which focuses on the facets most important while on-the-go.
We are very excited about the product we have in development currently, and you can be sure it will bring a great balance of an engaging user-experience, and utility.
Simple idea, unmet need, thoughtful execution, fun-to-use. This is where product magic is born…