Opinions first, options later

“Developers have opinions when they’re pushing to prod; when they’re just trying to get started with something they don’t want to have to make a bunch of decisions.”

Omer Ben Saadon, KNative PM

Product leaders need to look ahead to the future, when they’ve gotten past a v1.0 product and past their early adopters and found product-market fit.

And they need someone like me to yank them back to the present.

First, be opinionated

Right now, there’s someone downloading your app while they’re standing in line. If they were able to get the first glimpse of value before they got to the front of the line, they’ll probably stick around. If not, they may never tap on that icon again.

Right now, there’s someone with a clear problem skimming your API docs looking for text that matches the problem in their heads. If your headers correctly anticipated their problem and first few questions, they’ll fork the repo and build something quick over lunch to test it out.

Right now, there’s someone who just got out of a meeting where someone recommended your product. If they can preview results of your service in the 7 minutes before their next meeting, they’ll look further into how they can tweak it to exactly fit their needs.

How to capture the attention of these three customers? Be opinionated. State clearly “Do X, you’ll get Y.” Don’t mention edge cases, additional options, add-on purchases, variations.

But wait, customers are asking for options

Perfect! That’s exactly what you want. The best possible product situation is one where customers are using it enough to complain about what it doesn’t do for them yet. It shows that they have found it useful. It allows them to consider its’ functionality in a real-world context (when doing X, we wish we could also do Y), as opposed to trying to compare checkboxes in a competitive analysis matrix.

Once someone has assessed your solution and decided to make it a part of their life, then they’ll want you to support their use case. You’ll then want to consider all of your customers’ requests and figure out which ones align with your product vision. But unless you’ve already captured – and onboarded – your total addressable market – you’ll always have new customers coming in. You’ll want them to get to value as quickly as possible, and an opinionated introduction is the best way to support that.