Skip to main content

Provide the Shortest Path

Trying new things - especially new software products - can be both intimidating and time consuming.

You face a challenge when introducing a product in the marketplace. The forces of nature are working against you, since almost everyone but "early adopters" resists trying new products.

A major reason people resist trying new products is the learning curve. People simply don't have the time or patience to wade through pages and pages of documentation just to figure out what a product does, envision what it's like to use it, and how it would disrupt the way they live their lives.

One thing you can do to minimize this obstacle to adoption of your product is to provide the shortest path. Providing the shortest path means minimizing the time and effort necessary for a first-time prospective user to obtain demonstrable value from your product.

To provide the shortest path, you do some combination of the following:
  1. Make available a "quick start" guide that a prospective user can read in under ten seconds and get a feel for how she would use the product.
  2. Provide a demo (or full-fledged product) that enables first-time users to accomplish their primary goals with almost no time or effort.
Your product manager can drive this effort by defining personas and usability requirements relating to first-time users.

Comments

Unknown said…
Good article! I'll add #3 to your list - create use case driven documentation.

http://tynerblain.com/blog/2006/10/10/use-case-driven-documentation/

So many FAQs are actually IAQs (infrequently asked questions) and provide little or no task-centric help to new users.

Popular posts from this blog

Why Spreadsheets Suck for Prioritizing

The Goal As a company executive, you want confidence that your product team (which includes all the people, from all departments, responsible for product success) has a sound basis for deciding which items are on the product roadmap. You also want confidence the team is prioritizing the items in a smart way. What Should We Prioritize? The items the team prioritizes could be features, user stories, epics, market problems, themes, or experiments. Melissa Perri  makes an excellent case for a " problem roadmap ", and, in general, I recommend focusing on the latter types of items. However, the topic of what types of items you should prioritize - and in what situations - is interesting and important but beyond the scope of this blog entry. A Sad but Familiar Story If there is significant controversy about priorities, then almost inevitably, a product manager or other member of the team decides to put together The Spreadsheet. I've done it. Some of the mos

Use Case as a Black Box

Consider the following use case: Purchase Items Actor: Purchaser Precondition: Purchaser types at least thirty words per minute and has a web navigation efficiency rating of at least 40. Postcondition: For the average Purchaser acting at full efficiency, the number of seconds elapsed is no more than 30 + 20 * n, where n is the number of items purchased. The name of the use case represents a functional requirement. What does the product do, or enable the user to do? Purchase items. What are we to make of the preconditions and postconditions? What relationship do they have to the requirements for the product? Answer: the preconditions and postconditions are the nonfunctional requirements attached to the functional requirement . Another way of expressing the nonfunctional requirement would be as an attribute and associated constraint: Usability: For a Purchaser who types at least thirty words per minute and has a web navigation efficiency rating of at least 40, it shall take no

Henry Ford's "Faster Horse" Quote

You may have heard the ( apocryphal ) Henry Ford quote: If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have said "a faster horse". Over at the On Product Management blog , Saeed gives his take on this infamous quote. He "hates" it, and gives some compelling reasons. Saeed is spot on in his explanations. Personally, I think the quote is great, but it's a matter of interpretation. The valid point of the quote is not that it's a bad idea to facilitate a conversation with your market to better understand it. The valid points are: You must ask the right questions to get valuable answers. You must interpret the answers thoughtfully - often outside their direct meaning - to glean reliable information. Asking questions is not always the best way to "listen" to your market. (E.g., sometimes pure observational studies are more reliable.) Nonetheless, I find the quote is helpful to combat "armchair product management" in the