It is what it is

Product ideas

Last updated: 07/27/2022

Unsorted list of ideas and random thoughts on product that I refer every time I am stuck on something and need a creative push. Most of them are borrowed elsewhere.

  1. Five whys

    • Ask "why" five times to get to the source of any problem.
  2. Rule of 1/100 of customer complaints

    • 1 customer complained about the problem, but 100 (often much more) have this same problem, never complain and switch to a competitor product.
  3. McDonalds theory

    • Helps to kickstart any discussion, meeting etc. For example, when choosing what restaurant to go to and no one offers any ideas, suggest McDonalds and then everyone has ideas about why this is a bad choice and where to go.
  4. Gunpei Yokoi: "Lateral thinking with withered technology"

    • i.e. iPod shuffle or Gameboy. Withered means mature and cheap and lateral means radical new ways of using the available tech.
  5. Teens UX

    • Teenagers usually prefer unconventional UI (see Snapchat where no one over 30 can understand how to use it) and prefer platform with no adults.
  6. People lie when asked about things

    • Example: ask someone "Are cars with build-in speed limit good for society because they will save children?" Most people will reply "Of course!". Would they buy one? Very unlikely.
    • Example 2: Always listen to what customers tell you, but never do what they say.
    • Example 3: I believe the answer is straightforward and invaluable: you can (and should) use customer feedback to iterate (defined here as making an existing product better), but you cannot rely on clients to innovate (defined here as making a new product).
  7. Old features vs new features

    • Losing an old feature is always more painful for your customers than waiting for new ones which they haven’t tried yet.
  8. Four things

    • People buy 4 things only: time, money, sex/love and approval/peace of mind.
  9. Signaling

    • "Hanson believes that “well over 90 percent” of human behavior can be explained by signaling. (Conspicuous consumption describes the practice of purchasing luxury goods (or services) for the sake of signaling the buyer’s wealth in order to attain or maintain a certain social status.)"
  10. Value

    • People tend to value things they pay for more highly and spend more time fitting them into their lives. Free products get replaced in a whim. If you made user to invest money or time into your product they will unlikely to churn as easy.
  11. Amit Kumars

    • When Facebook entered India they were not well prepared. When people started to look for friends/relatives it was a mess. Simple search of "Amit Kumar" (one of the most popular names in India) returned hundreds of thousands people with the same name. Facebook had to adjust their internal systems to facilitate this.
  12. Distance yourself from the product

    • When using a product multiple times every day you develop the product blindness and cannot see things obvious to casual users. It helps to distance yourself from your product from time to time: stop using it for a while and switch to a competitor; use it while drunk or while on psychedelics.
  13. Anti-product

    • When stuck, think about what an Anti-Product may looks like. I.e. Anti-Facebook may be the product that lets you forget people, Anti-Instagram may be the app that allows you to post only scientific papers etc.
  14. Rock, sand, water

    • Find a youtube video to understand the idea if not familiar. Build products with understanding what activities are large=rock (sleep, work), small=sand (wait in line, workout) and think how you can fill it with background=water (audio while doing dishes, tweet while sitting on a toilet etc)
  15. Loudest voice in the room

    • If you have the highest role in the room, always let more junior folks to speak first, this way their thinking will not be biased by your ideas.
  16. State change

    • Chamath once observed that product development is about state change. About moving people from never having heard of your product, to thinking about it, to actually using it.
  17. 90/9/1

    • 1% of users create content, 9% modify it (comment/like/reply) and 90% are readers/consumers.
  18. 10x solution

    • When building new products or features always try to come up with 10x solution. Even if physically impossible it helps to expand thinking.
  19. Hedonic adaptation

    • After achieving a goal or acquiring a product people get the initial bust of happiness (or unhappiness if adverse event) but then return to baseline level. How soon they return depends on the magnitude of event, i.e. facebook like can bring happiness for several seconds while a new car can make you happy for a week. Then a new stimulus required.
  20. Diderot effect

    • Profound psychological phenomenon. When you acquire a new laptop, you suddenly need a new monitor or a new table and then even a new house. "I was absolute master of my old dressing gown", Diderot writes, "but I have become a slave to my new one … Beware of the contamination of sudden wealth. The poor man may take his ease without thinking of appearances, but the rich man is always under a strain".
  21. Startups and competition

    • Early stage startups don't compete with each other. They compete with people not giving a shit about them.