Weekend Reading: A Product / UX Rant, Choosing Metrics, and Setting Goals

Each week, I read dozens of blogs, countless articles from my Twitter stream, and one or two books. In Weekend Reading, I highlight the best, as it applies to developing great products.

Who Owns Your UX Philosophy?
Brad Feld in Feld Thoughts

I have a lot of respect for just about everything Brad Feld writes. I think he’s smart, thoughtful, and brings a great perspective to many topics. I also like that he’s running 50 marathons in 50 states. But this post really surprised me. And yet it didn’t at all.

Brad writes about a couple of his portfolio companies who are struggling with getting the user experience right and asks how companies can correct this. He refers to the engineering team, the VP of Engineering, the founders, and the designers, and expresses frustration with the fact that no one seems to own the overall user experience.

It sounds to me like these companies are in need of a strong product person. It’s amazing to me that this role is so often overlooked. I love that we are finally at a point in time where design is viewed as a critical part of the product development process, but it drives me crazy that we still don’t have a good concept of the role and need for product management. Why is this such an under-defined, immature function in so many internet companies where so much of the company’s success depends on finding product-market fit and delighting customers?

I can guess at some of the reasons. Many product managers are order takers. They rank features and project manage releases. If that’s your view of product management, of course it doesn’t make sense for this person to own the user experience. In fact, it doesn’t make sense for this person to exist in a startup at all.

But that’s not product management. And that’s the problem. I hate, hate, hate it (with a passion) when people talk about disciplines in the abstract. So I’m not going to rant about what product management is and the value that it brings. I’m just going to quietly (okay, not so quietly) look forward to the day when people get the value of a good product person in a startup.

How Many Metrics Do You Need to Run Your Startup? 
Ben Yoskovitz in Instigator Blog

This is a great post about using metrics (or rather a metric) to drive focus. It’s really easy to let data and metrics become a giant distraction. You can analyze data until the end of time and never accomplish anything. But if you focus on one key metric, it becomes a way to focus your activities and ultimately drive real results. It’s a great read.

Jump Start Your Company Goals
Ron Ashkenas in HBR Blog

It’s January, so I’m spending a lot of time at work discussing goals. So this article was timely, as it says what I’ve been arguing all week. The goals you set will determine what gets done. If you set incremental goals, you’ll make incremental progress. If you set a big, bold goal, you’ll make big, bold progress. Your goal frames how you think about the problem. When it comes to goals, I’m a firm believer in go big or go home.

Want to get these links throughout the week rather than all at once? Follow me on Twitter @ttorres

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