Notes from Mind the Product 2013

Paul Adams

Head of Product Design at Intercom, @padday

He thinks that the big change at is that all information about everything is now available all the time. People used to say ‘I was online last night’ and now that is as ridiculous as saying ‘I used the lights last night’.

Aggregating data is important. FB stories, twitter cards and Google Now are important aggregators.

Mobile is about information not devices, in the same way that the Ford Model T isn’t a horse and isn’t a train. Ford Model T created suburbia, big box stores and the end of the high street.

Expect that mass marketing will come to an end, and be replaced with much a much more personalised (depersonalised) targeted experience that is driven by data

The next 4 billion people will use mobile devices to access the Internet

George Berkowski

Previously head of product at Hailo (London Uber)

He claims that all the opportunities for all of us are in mobile. This is based on strong figures for big exits in the space: out of 10 $1b exits, 2 have been mobile. At the moment there are 1b smartphones and 6b feature phones in the world, and this is likely to switch as prices fall. People spend 6x more time in apps than mobile web, and the growth is all in apps, they also pull out their phones 150(!) times a day, and spend time on games (43%) social (26%) and entertainment (10%).

Stats on big ($1B+) exits:

  • Took 2-10 years, average of 7 years
  • Focus on end user value
  • Create a new category
  • Founder with an unusually strong product vision. Different, simple, fantastic/

The knock-off is big in the far east: WeChat (China, WhatsApp) have 200m active users. Line (Japan, WhatsApp) 240m active and $240m run rate.

Tim Harford: Marginal Gains

The undercover economist

There is a strong contrast between searching for ‘marginal gains’ and going for a long shot. He compared Matt Parker ‘head of marginal improvements’ for the British cycling team (that took home over half the gold medals for cycling at the 2012 Olympics) with the Spitfire and Mario Capecchi’s Knockout Mouse

His point was that both are important, and we often forget that marginal improvements will not lead to breakthrough success. When the Spitfire was commissioned–for example–radar hadn’t been invented yet, and so there was no way to find and intercept bombers.

When you fight for marginal improvements you go home at the end of the day knowing that you have made progress and that feels great. Radical improvements come all at once or not at all, and we don’t respect people who try for them. In fact mostly the people involved take huge personal risks to get the job done: Mario Capecchi took a large chunk of funding money for something else and spent it on the Knockout Mouse work, risking professional ruin but getting a Nobel Prize in the end.

Kelly Goto

Founder, gotomedia. Interested in design ethnography.

She introduced the Japanese concept of YoYu, which is the concept of additional extra or adundance. It is the space inbetween things, and is in contrast will filling every available second with stuff. We now have a checking habit, and people check their phones about every 10 minutes, often subconciously. We now have super short attention spans and don’t have the ability to concentrate any more.

This concept hit home with the people I spoke to at the after party, and the concept of ‘no internet for 30 days’ that I’ve done was well received

Facebook and Zynga are celebrating all the wrong things. We are driving people into short term pleasure and addiction when we should be focussing on meaning and going beyond addition. To do this integrating with people’s lifestyle is important.

She suggested looking at the words that people use to describe a product and separating them into emotional, unaware and rational, aware categories. For example the the home button on iOS always takes you back to the same place: it provides comfort

Her final point was that technology is getting more complex faster than people are getting better at handling that complexity.

Patrick Vlaskovits and Brant Cooper

Authors, The Lean Entrepreneur

Their initial claim was that the iPhone was a sustaining innovation and the 3rd party app store with disruptive. I’m not sure I believe this.

They talked about the different things you have to do for ‘sustaining’ and ‘disruptive’ innovation. The differences are interesting, but the meaning didn’t really match those used by St. Clayton.

For ‘disruptive’ (what PG would call a startup):

  • Optimise for learning
  • ‘What’s my ROI and when will I see it’ will kill all good ideas.
  • Business plans are fiction
  • Purpose-built experiments. What metrics are we interested in?
  • Optimise for execution
  • Don’t do a MVP here

Success means that you slide from ‘disruptive’ to ‘sustaining’. Know where you are and do relevant activities. Execute on what is known and experiment to learn what is not. Eliminate things that are not value add activities.

You have to separate new startup ideas from the core business, and innovative ideas need novel sales/marketing.

Cennydd Bowles

Digital Product Designer at Twitter

There is now a wide diversity of input and output devices that we need to consider. Inputs may be via touch (think how the use will hold the device); voice; sensors (e.g. Jawbone Up).

Outputs range from a smart phone through tablets of varying pixel density to the 10 foot UI, and soon sound. Auto design teams spend hours getting the slam of a door to sound just right, as do designers of slot machines.

Platforms that are important are iOS; Android; WinPhone (maybe); Facebook Browser. People also want to continue interactions between devices: for example start researching a holiday/flight on a phone/tablet and finish booking on a PC.

Diversity of context is also important. If they are not at a desk, where are they? What else is going on?

Aziz Musa

Designer

His was an impassioned plea for what he calls ‘Pure Products’.