Product First Step Feedback: Having worked in customer facing roles most of my career, I have experienced first hand how important it is for clients to get quick impressions of a product. Opportunities to leave that impression are often limited.
The other night, a colleague argued most products don’t even need a UI. And a UI won’t even be necessary for products that aim at developers as their audience. It may be unnecessary for specific, complex products. And in general, I won’t disagree. Such products exist and still require a good first impression. Browsing open source directories at Github, popular projects come with good documentation. A readme.md that comes with building and running instruction.
In the IaaS/PaaS/SaaS world, popular tools come with first step tutorials. Quick tours to get potential users started in minutes. Google apparently made this a release requirement, since virtually all products ship with a “Get Started in 5 Minutes” section to start with.
When I came into the product management role, I was a strong proponent of UI driven products. In hindsight, this believe was driven by the pure marketing thought of it. A UI shows better at trade fair booths than a terminal.
With more technical products, the readme is the last resort. And with that, an opportunity to gather feedback is gone. The UI can implement tracking and analysis to build a feedback channel for Product Managers to understand how the new feature actually is perceived.
In the software, provided it is delivered in source, the first step that could possible send telemetry, is the build process. And to drive adoption, you have to offer the customer a good first impression in documentation, before he can build your component. Should the documentation not deliver on this first step, you lost a customer even before he saw the product. If you are in the situation to receive feedback on this first impression, take that very serious.