A decision-making framework for Product Managers to design your Product Personality
A friend once asked me “What does your Product do?” I responded “My product consumes videos from CCTV, analyses it using AI, understands what the video contains, calculates the insights user wants, and then shows it in a consumable format”, all in one breath. He looked at me without blinking for a few moments and then said “Simply please?” I smiled and said “My Product tells you what happened in a video” “Oh, that simple huh? A person could do that” All I could do was sigh……
As Product Managers, we often need to provide a narrative of our Product to different people. These different people belong to groups with different levels of familiarity. Like we witnessed earlier, the narrative which would appeal to my customers did not appeal to my friend. A narrative that would hit it off with my engineering would definitely not be well received with my Product Head. Different groups of people possess varying areas of knowledge, and different lenses to examine your delivery with. It hence becomes a regular judgment call of when, where, how much, and more importantly how to communicate to our users. This article focuses on uncovering the components and the style of Product narrative to users. The magnitude of the above-outlined problem is especially high in a Product involving complex calculations, or data processing.
Few examples could be:
Billing dashboard of a product; How is the bill this high????
Price prediction for an Uber ride; Rupees 500 for few kilometers?
Facebook recommending me random ads; Why why why? I am not interested!
LinkedIn claiming that certain jobs would be perfect for me; In what world is this job a match?
Pretty much everything involving Artificial Intelligence; Whoa how did that happen?
The question we are bound to ask ourselves is are A) How much information do we expose to the users, and B) What is the best way of surfacing this information?
Exposing a lot of information, you run into the risk of overloading the users. This eventually leads to bad user experience.
On the other hand, witnessing the end result magically, without having to invest mental effort, users tend to mistrust your Product. They might additionally approach you for queries, or abandon your Product (if they can). You are pretty much stuck between the Devil and the deep blue sea.
The idea is to find a sweet spot.
Judge the optimum level of information you want to provide. Let’s find out what the parameters of finding this sweet spot are.
What kind of Product are you?
The level of information, appropriate in a Product, is largely driven by who your users are.
A B2B product user sitting in his office is using your product to calculate monthly Payroll. He would not mind more information (of the calculation methodology). At the same time, a customer using Uber to book a cab, faced with the pricing methodology would not react well. You could slice and dice them into whatever segment you need. The idea is to classify your users based on their inclination and tolerance towards data and analysis.
What would your information help users achieve?
You want to be absolutely clear about why do you need the users to see the details.
In certain cases, like mine, a level of intermediate detail was necessary for users to understand the output. I judged that it would make users trust the Product more. But in all honesty, in a few cases, I have introspected and discovered that its a show-off! There is this amazing algorithm powering our Product and we want to show it off. If I am Facebook, and I need to take certain actions of reported posts, my users might want to know WHY? Why did I delete their post? Is there some value in explaining to them how and why I took this call? Probably yes. Or I could be Uber, showing my fancy price calculation algorithm mechanism to my users.
Would the user gain much from the understanding of why the price is a 10 Rs more than he expected? Probably no!
Let’s admit, we sometimes want to show the cool stuff!
What is the impact of calculations? Few Rs or a few million?
My friend was working on a Billing Product of a massive B2B company. The platform was extremely flexible, and customers could enable any number of and any combination of features that they wanted. Based on the above and several other factors, the ongoing complex algorithm calculated the end results.
The same problem manifested in form of — “Do we” or “do we not” surface the calculation methodology?
Well, in the beginning, the straight answer was, of course not!
But imagine someone having to pay millions of dollars without receiving the justification of why. The magnitude always matters. It will help you decide the sensitivity of the customers.
Where would you like to show the information?
You have reached this point and are still convinced that the information is essential and helpful to the users. The next question you would want to delve in — How and where are you going to show the information?
You have too many choices with different levels of accessibility and visibility. The information, if essential to users, could be put up right there where users can see. Some of the most brilliant features are also hidden behind that little gear icon called “Setting”.
Alternatively, there is always the option of adding documentation in the “Help” section. A question, that helps you make the right choice is “What would you like the users to do with that information?”
Chose your option wisely!
Believe it or not, the right decision might make or break your Product.