Managing product timing and feature requests
Design Expert, Good Taste Purveyor, Product Guy
If you aren’t embarrassed by what you ship, you waited too long. - Reid Hoffman
Everything you put in not only slows you down but also add risk.
You must be able to respond quickly enough to have features coming in response to customer requests.
Lesson: Designing Your Experience with Jeff Veen
Step #2 Product: Managing product timing and feature requests
Figuring out what's in your minimum viable product, what makes it viable, is incredibly difficult. There's this quote from Reid Hoffman, I think it is, who says, "If you're not embarrassed by what you ship, you've waited too long." I can totally attest that I was completely embarrassed by what we ended up starting with. We've got great feedback from people. They really liked it. But that process of what's going in and what's not going in, and how much. Because everything you put in not only slows you down, but it adds risk, because the entrepreneurial balance that you have there. You have a certain amount of money and you don't have revenue yet because you haven't launched. And so the more money you spend to get to launch is the more risk inherently to see whether something is going to work or not.
And so we did a bunch of things. One was that we built a product that we really wanted to have exist in the world. We were really into the idea of getting fonts onto the web. And we had done lots of, collectively, web design in the past. So we knew how to do the process, and we knew lots of web designers. So between us and this circle of people that we could bounce ideas off, and show early versions and things like that, we had a good sense of whether you could actually use the product. Whether it would be functional and usable that we could actually charge for something, because the first day we launched, we charged for it. So that was part of it. That's essentially user research; validation of our decisions that we were making.
But the only other thing then is to follow on as quickly as possible. So if somebody looks at the product and says, "Well, it's missing this. I can't use it." That we would be able to respond quickly enough to be able to have the features coming. Maybe it's because I work at a much larger company with a different pace where I see everybody trying to get everything into the big launch, because if it's not in there, people aren't going to want the product. They're not going to make the purchase decision. But I think, especially if you are making a service that people use continuously rather than just buy once, I think you have a great opportunity to continue to refine the product over time.