How Developers Can Create “Sticky” Products
Provide solutions that make users’ lives simpler and easier, save users’ time, and have empathy for users.
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I had the chance to chat with Ajeet Singh, executive chairman and co-founder of ThoughtSpot. Ajeet was also a co-founder of Nutanix. I asked him about what developers need if their goal is to develop products for customers who will love them. Here are some insights from our conversation.
What Are the Most Important Elements of a “Sticky” Product?
Early on, Ajeet's work focused on product management at Honeywell and Oracle where he focused on features and benefits. While at Honeywell, his team built software that monitored the health of aircraft using data from those tasks. This experience allowed him to interact with IDEO — an organization known for its design thinking skills — and adopt a new perspective toward solving customer problems as well.
Nowadays Ajeet begins goals by making things valuable and simple enough so everyone can use them in order to create solutions tailored specifically to their needs.
“Business users have so many tools to use, but no time to learn how to use them,” Ajeet says. “There are no training classes, and even if there were, no one has the time to attend them. Business solutions today need to be intuitive.”
Business tools have been clunky to use, more focused on function than experience. At ThoughtSpot, they’ve taken a different approach to making data accessible and actionable.
People are inherently curious about data; however, the way to get answers has not been easy. Ajeet and his team built a solution based on search, whereby a user can query and search for the data they need to answer a question.
A key element of a sticky product is one that makes users' lives simpler and easier.
How Has Making a “Sticky” Product Changed?
Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPad showed us the importance of design. However, their designs are not for the sake of looking good; they’re driven by the desire to provide an exceptional user experience (UX). This knowledge and insight are driven by having deep empathy for the user.
Many developers are focused on learning new frameworks and thinking about new ways to organize code. Few are thinking about user experience, nor have they been provided the information and insights to think about user experience.
Developers need visibility into the user experience of the people using the products and solutions they are creating. One solution is for product managers to pull engineers in with them on customer calls. Keep the distance between engineers and customers as short as possible.
Actively cultivate the value of design and consumer knowledge and insights. This is a new way of thinking that takes time — help engineers gain empathy for users.
The data about user behavior has become better over the years. When creating a new product, build instruments to provide data to engineers on what is working well and what is not.
Ask yourself, how long does it take for a user to complete a task? How can we make it shorter?
What Are the Best Techniques and Tools for Developing a Sticky Product?
Focus on the core functionality and garner insights from the data you are gathering to make the experience better. Data-driven UX is key to engagement.
Make products more interactive and personalized with data and algorithms. Amazon, Netflix, and Starbucks have done a great job with this. We’re beginning to see similar improvements in business applications since business users are also consumers and have the same expectations for their business solutions as they do their personal solutions.
Going forward, this will be AI/ML-driven. Cloud has provided the necessary infrastructure to support this. Interest and awareness are growing while attention spans continue to shrink. To deliver the right experience to the right user at the right time, you must provide intelligence in the application via personalization, relevance, and timeliness.
Key Takeaways for Developers
Be mindful that there is a real human being who’s going to use what you are building.
Know who these users are.
Know what business problems they are trying to solve.
Having deep empathy for users is critical if you want to build “sticky” products.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.
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