Rules of Thumb for Mobile Product Development from the Author of Mobilized

Videos, Product Management, PM Confessions

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For Part 3 of SC Moatti's Confessions of a Product Manager, we learn how product leaders should best think about the customer journey. (Hint: simpler is better.) She also explains "the thumb rule," or the idea that successful mobile products rely on actions that can easily be completely with your thumb. Last but not least, SC shares her personal acceptance criteria when building new products..."the mom test". Check out the video for more!

And be sure to watch Part 1 and Part 2 in case you missed them.

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Video transcript:

SC Moatti: I like that.

Matt Pasienski: When you're designing a mobile app, if you're designing it for someone who’s sitting in front of a computer, you're missing the point. You're designing it for someone who is out in the world or who is participating in something, who is doing something. Maybe that’s where a lot of the mobile opportunities is going and finding the other 90% in someone’s life. How do you go and check that down? How do you learn about someone and decide, “Okay, this is what this new product is going to be. It’s a mobile phone, it’s when they get back to their computer it’s something else. It’s maybe a watch app, it’s maybe a bird. It’s going to be all these things together but it’s out in someone’s life.” How do you go to research that?

SC Moatti: Yeah, I’ll leave you a few examples. First of all, if you're a product person, you want to think about your customer journey as like … I over simplify of course right, but as a 3-step journey. There's the, "I don’t know what I don’t know phase." Where what you want to do is just keep your possible consumer or customers aware. Make them aware that you exist. For example, a real example is the Zillow Zestimate, like buy or selling a home. Not something that I will do every day but do I want to know the value of my home or my bosses home or your …? Of course I do. That’s that unknown, unknown.

Then there's a first decision point which is, now I know that I need a service that will help me buy or rent a place. There I'm starting to look, I'm starting to be curious, interested, I have intent, that’s a different step in the journey. You want to be there at that journey and sure and there what you want to make sure you communicate is, “Why you're better”, cheaper faster and so on. Then there's the decision point that the consumer makes or the customer makes where they're going to say like, “Now I'm going to choose your service.” You also want to be there at the decision point and from there it’s all about customer success and customer experience.

It’s over simplified but as a product person if you think about these 3 phases of your product, I think that you have a very good framework for understanding context. Like “Where is that person when they suddenly become aware that they’re going to need a tool to buy a home? What's going on in their head?” that’s the first thing. The second thing is, I’ve used a lot of ethnographic studies on mobile and I’ve found them to be extremely successful. I will tell you like at first I was skeptical of the use of ethnographic studies. What I learned is that if actually over the course of a few weeks gives you insights into your customers that are things that you will never get otherwise.

Matt Pasienski: Just because that is not necessarily a term everyone has heard yet, what are the types of insights you will get in an ethnographic study and what are the insights you're going to be taking out of that?

SC Moatti: Yes, so you would … For example you would understand how people make decisions. You would understand the different segments of people in your audience which you may not be aware of. You may understand exactly where and with whom they make decisions. You do that in a way that is so much more realistic than you would in any other type of user research. Then one third thing I would say which is what I tell every RND at large, product, design, engineering, analytics team that I speak with. Which is if … When you're at your computer creating a product requirement document or programming something or designing something, you remember that you're human and things should be easy. You're a 90% in the way already.

Matt Pasienski: I would just like to point out that sometimes making a product easy to use is very hard and that’s why a lot of people don’t like to do it, it’s a lot of extra work.

SC Moatti: It’s really, really hard, I completely agree. On mobile and in my book I talk about a rule for mobile that I call the “Thumb rule.” It’s a part of a concept that …

Matt Pasienski: That Rule of Thumb.

SC Moatti: No, no, no.

Matt Pasienski: The Thumb rule.

SC Moatti: No, the thumb rule.

Matt Pasienski: Okay, well this is …

SC Moatti: I’ll explain that. The thumb rule is that any action on mobile if you want to have a successful product need to be completed easily with an average thumb. Why it’s important … It’s important regardless of whether you're working for consumers or for businesses, it’s because again you go back to this idea context. If you try to complete something with a finger, like the thumb or a finger, something and then you get distracted, you get routed to the wrong place. You're not going to try to back and retrace your steps, you're just going to lift your head and I’ll be lost.

Matt Pasienski: That’s it.

SC Moatti: That’s it. The importance of that thumb rule is because context on mobile is so distracting. In fact like I take this one step further, because the thumb rule is all about being efficient and getting things done. I go one step further and I say that, “Every mobile product to be successful needs to be beautiful. Not in just the efficiency sense but also in the emotional sense.” There I use another test which is the “Mom test.”

Matt Pasienski: The Mom test, okay.

SC Moatti: The Mom test is just like whenever I tell my mom what I do she goes like, “Oh, that sounds great, that sounds great.” Then at some point she’ll grab something and she’ll get it and she’ll be like, “Oh, that’s awesome.” That’s this visceral reaction. You want exactly that kind of reaction with your product.

Matt Pasienski: You can’t talk about too much tech with your mom or she's going to be useless. You're going to have to find a new mom that has less understanding of technology.

SC Moatti: It has to be really simple by emotionally and rationally.

Matt Pasienski: Yeah, to use it with your thumb and your mom has to get it right away.

SC Moatti: That’s right.

Matt Pasienski: When you’ve done that you’ve done enough work to make your product simple.

SC Moatti: You make it beautiful, yes.

Matt Pasienski: Beautiful, beautiful. Just I'm going to put the … It’s mobilize and I think I got the title. Because I was when I was thinking I'm thinking about mobile phones, but really what you're talking about is a mobile user. Someone who is out in the world, out doing things and not necessarily someone who’s coming to your product to consume it but your product is coming to them to help them with their task. Given that mobile phones are not the real instate, it’s the mobile user, is that someone out in the world. What are the next steps beyond mobile phones that this learning that we’ve … That you’ve come to over the last many years starting with the mobile phone, where is it going next? What are the other things that are going to be products coming to people where they are rather than the other way around?

SC Moatti: Yes, so I’ll talk about … We can talk forever about technology trend. Like [inaudible 00:06:45],sharing economy, on demand economy, deep learning and all that. I'm going to actually talk about people, back to who are the people who are going to use this product and who are the people who are going to build these products? Of course it’s the millennial generation, digital native, they're extremely proficient with technology and they see technology as a tool. Not as a means to an end like behind a computer but rather as tool to help them live better lives.

The Pure Research Foundation did a very interesting piece of research on millennials and they say, “They are confident, connected and open to change.” If you impact that a little bit, confidence says, “They expect things to just work.” That’s back to they have to be beautiful, like very efficient and understandable by my mom. Connected, it means that they need to be very personalized. This is where I think we’re going to need to make a lot of … we still have a lot of things to invent. Personalized means we need to understand the context, pull it in and push information that’s relevant at the right place, at the right time.

Matt Pasienski: There’s nothing worse than my first 15 clicks in an app to get into the thing that I actually want. It’s when you…

SC Moatti: Oh my God yes, exactly. It’s unnecessary.

Matt Pasienski: It’s unnecessary like you said, “Every few seconds that you spend in an app opportunity first the context to pull you back away.”

SC Moatti: Yes, so absolutely and the context there’s the exciting side of context which is, “Oh, bringing the people in my life, the places in my life that matter and create something for me that is meaningful.” Then there's the darker side of context and personalization, which is privacy and permissions. Like give me permission to use my house data, I may not want that. Then also make sure that there's checks and balances. I may want to give you a bad review just because I don’t like you or you may want to do that well lest have some checks and balances so that we continue to be a better human society. Then the last point being millennials are open to change and that I think is an important aspect. You were talking about that earlier which is there's never … It’s never ending. There's only evolution and sometimes revolution on mobile but behaviors change in a matter of weeks.

I’ll give you an example, when I was at Facebook, one of the products that I was looking after is push notifications. Now push notifications are these alerts that will show up on your phone. Most people now are familiar with the app, couple of years ago very few people were. When you saw a notification saying, “Would you like to receive push notifications. These may include alerts, badges and sound.” You would like … You would be like, “Not at all, I don’t want to be bothered.” Then in a matter of weeks all of a sudden people started to understand that if they receive the Facebook push notifications then they would know immediately that someone had invited them to a party, someone had messaged them, they had been tagged into a photo. All of a sudden they realize, “Well, there's a lot of value in that.” These behaviors they change all the time.

Matt Pasienski: I think this just goes back to that I idea that it’s a product chasing a person, it’s not necessarily a product that it remains stationary. When it’s chasing you, you have to use that feedback all the time just like your … As you said, one of the 3 components of the new way of thinking. I think this is a … I'm very excited about this book, it’s a really interesting I think retake on not just mobile and mobile phones, but obviously all of product management which is much more user centric. Thank you so much for coming and I'm very excited. Go buy the book, it’ll be much better that this interview even. Thanks for coming.

SC Moatti: Great, thank you for having me, it was really fun.

Matt Pasienski: Awesome, thanks.

Luisa Posted by Luisa on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

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Apr 25, 2017

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