This isn't a manifesto, it's just a bunch of words that describe my approach to product management. Some old and some new. This is a living doc and yes there's some repetition and obvious shit. Think of it as a hammer to the head. I may update it from time to time...
Working on the web is often chaotic, so the common tendency is to try to contain or control the insanity... this is a mistake. You can have process, but if you attempt to control, you will smother innovation and creativity. The best solution is to work with the chaos, make it your friend. Accept it. If you can't handle that, then you belong elsewhere.
1. No one's going to die
You are making a web page, you aren't launching someone into space. Your process and approach should reflect that.
2. Take risks... no fear
You are nothing if you don't put your neck on the chopping block. Timidity is not an option.
3. Bugs happen
Bugs can be fixed. Plan for bugs, misspellings, broken images, Safari incompatibility, etc. You can't avoid them. Just launch, file bugs, prioritize bugs, and fix bugs. Bugs are good... if they're found, it means that someone is using your product.
4. Launch early and often
Your product is a living thing. Keep feeding it by constantly pushing updates.
5. Don't hide
Use your product, share your product, be a member of your own community, help people, guide people, bring people together, eat your own horse meat...
6. Create an active space
No one likes to feel alone. Promote user activity, contribution, and keep it fresh.
7. Beg, borrow, steal, do whatever it takes
If something needs to get done, find a way. Use friends, curry favor, lose a bet, work outside of your org. Anything is possible, you just need to be creative.
8. Do one thing
Your product should do one thing and one thing only-- really, really well. Don't try to be everything to everyone, you'll end up being nothing for no one. Design for growth, but only add on when absolutely necessary. (more about The One Thing Principle)
9. Keep It Simple, Asshole
To quote Einstein: "Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."
10. Own it AND own up
Ultimately the product is yours. The entire experience. It must live up to your high standards. If something goes wrong, take responsibility. BUT... if something goes right, share the love, because you did nothing. Get over yourself.
11. Don't think about adding things until you consider what needs to be subtracted
You will always have a product or feature road map, but next to it should be a feature shit can. If you launch something and no one uses it, trash it and move on. No clutter, no clutter, no clutter!
12. Get good at saying NO
People will come at you with with all sorts of ideas, most of them will suck. Stay focused.
Lucky 13. Research is everything, but your gut is where it's at
Everything you do and experience is research. That feeds your gut. Listen to it. Formal studies can slow you down. If you think you need one, then maybe your idea isn't that great to begin with. However, listen to people. Use RITE studies to fine-tune your approach.
Here are other thoughts I've said before. I've added them here for convenience:
- Focus on one thing; the right thing, then kick that one thing's ass
- Design for the worst case scenario. This means do everything possible to break the design, then design around that.
- Bucket tests are great when you're trying to improve a feature, but for gods sake, know what you're trying to get out of it
- Take risks
- When in doubt, WWFD (What Would Flickr Do?) except when it comes to drop down navigation
- Usability tests can scare the shit out of you, do them early and often
- Test it on anyone you can find... even one person is better than nothing
- Not every bug is a P1
- User experience first, monetization second
- Work with as small a team as you can possibly get away with
- Keep your documentation as lean as possible. No one has time to read, so make sure you use your words efficiently.
- Don't sleep under your desk, nothing is worth not having a life
The web is: ever-changing, fast-paced, a mess, noisy, ugly, confusing, distracting, disturbing, limitless, wonderful, exciting, informative, inspiring, and entertaining
The web isn't: defined, structured, containable, focused, the end, or all that important...
Product Management is: the art of defining, building, and being responsible for the outcome of a given product. Anyone can be a product manager -- designer, marketer, engineer, etc. they just need to make sure they're comfortable working under the gun...
Photo "CBGB Bathroom" by: Geeenta
used courtesy of a creative commons license