“The psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer has a simple heuristic. Never ask the doctor what you should do. Ask him what he would do if he were in your place. You would be surprised at the difference”
I added the quote to the book’s page. Tagged it as #quotable. And then added a Youtube clip from a Ted Talk by Gerd Gigerenzer himself. That way you can see what the guy looks like, what he’s all about, and let him expand on that nugget of an idea.
Why we killed 2/3rds of the features on booknug. Before even launching.
I’ve been crafting the book blogging site http://booknug.com for the past few months. I’m trying to follow the ideas from Lean Startup, and built (what I thought was) my Minimum Viable Product.
The MVP consisted of:
- search for a book (using Google Books API)
- write posts to share the ideas from your book
- multiple’types of posts’ (i.e. is it a fact, a quote, story)
- ability to ‘add a person/character’ from the book (persons story, picture, link to a webpage about them)
- you could @mention any person in the book in your post.
A week ago, I thought this was reasonable.
It offered enough functionality to make the site valuable without adding features for the hell of it.
Then I started asking people to use the site, and WOW, was I wrong. One test I ran was a self narrated user test with TryMyUI.com
The woman in this video was representative of what all my testers said.
“I like the idea, but I don’t really understand what I’m supposed to do. Oh, and WHAT THE HECK DO YOU MEAN BY ‘add a person’??”
My realization was that people’s only reference point with book websites were one of the following
a. Book review sites (Goodreads et al.)
b. Book buying sites (Amazon et al.)
c. Book club sites (Oprah Book of the Month)
Since booknug will be a new category (sharing great ideas from a book) I’d have to be focused exclusively on that differentiator.
So I’m removing all the bells and whistles.
Removing the ‘add a person’ features, removing the @mentions (even though I think its cool as hell) removing the various post types, and revamping homepage to drive home our difference.
People can write a post about an idea from a book (and include a link to give context).
The features now on the cutting room floor took me weeks to build. I took great pride and craftsmanship in building them. But, I built the wrong thing. Its painful, and oddly embarrassing to cut so much, but thats how you learn.
Would HUGELY appreciate if you would take a look at http://booknug.com and let me know in the comments if the site’s purpose is clear to you.
My new role as Product Manager of MyAccount at HMSA has led me to research what other PMs do in their daily job. I’ll be posting nuggets.
Today’s is an interview with Brandon Badger, who was formerly PM of Google Books.via media bistro
What’s your role as product manager in the whole thing?That’s a good question. Google is very loosely structured; there’s not a whole lot of top-down management. As a product manager, your role is to inspire the team, to really define what the product goals are, work closely with the tech lead and the engineers on the project management itself — so breaking down the project into manageable chunks and then following through on the schedule to make sure we’re meeting our goals. You’re the outward face for the product as well, so there’s a lot of interacting with partners. We have publishing partners, but also library partners, device makers and reading application partners. And then also interfacing with the various other entities within Google to make sure that our products work well together. So working with the search team so that Google Books is able to blend well into the Google search results product.
So what does a typical week look like?Usually about half my day is in meetings either with external partners or with our engineers. As far as the schedule itself, it’s very flexible here at Google, so you might have engineers coming in later in the morning but then staying later. It’s basically whatever works best for your family and your life situation. In general though, people work pretty hard just because they’re passionate about what they do. I’ll typically put in a normal day at work, go home, hang out with the family, play some tennis or some golf, but oftentimes checking email at night — also because it’s a global company we have remote teams, so I’ll be interacting with a team that might be in Taiwan or another team in Zurich. It’s sort of a 24-hour schedule in that sense where you’re getting email requests and questions all throughout the day.
When I was 24 and in grad school at MIT I looked around and saw my technical friends starting companies. In one class literally one in three people had launched a startup and was doing something fascinating.
This was amazing to me. Before arriving at MIT, people I knew did not start companies.
I had the idea, along with my friend Dave Knapp, to start an online travel company, then called TravellingParty.com. The first version sold spring break packages, and the site had some rudimentary social features to help people organize their trip. We did pretty well and sold $100,000 worth of beer-soaked Cancun dreams in 3 months. I’ll write a post someday on the stories that came from these months.
After the first spring break season, I wanted to focus on the social aspects of the site and go after the bigger leisure travel market. The problem was that neither Dave nor I could write code. The first version had been done by a contractor named Sidharth that we found on Elance for $700.
I didn’t know it at the time, but having zero technical cofounders was our kiss of death. We tried bringing a few engineers on board but the fit wasn’t right. We tried outsourcing again but found that it was so hard to ship a working site now that we had a more ambitious vision.
Years later, after fully emptying my bank account, we got it launched as TravelMob.com. The site launched ok, and we got some press coverage, but within a week we started learning from customer feedback… But had no ability to change anything. Our contract with the developers was done.
Not being able to quickly react to the feedback killed our chances for success. We shut off the servers 7 months later.
After that experience I vowed that I’d never be the dreaded ‘ideas guy’ again. I threw myself head first into years of learning everything I’d need to know to build an online project myself. HTML, CSS, php, Wordpress, photoshop, dslr video, Premiere pro…. It was amazing to me that I could learn all these technologies as long as I took things one step at a time.
In 2009 I started helping local businesses and friends launch their projects. There was a training course for a Navy Seal academy, a lifestyle blog for Gen X in Hawaii, and a few other smaller efforts. But they were all wordpress sites.
I wanted to be able to build a real web app. I wanted to be able to have built TravelMob.
So in the fall of 2012 I took a course in a php framework called Laravel. Afterwards I felt that if I had my new skills back then, I could have built TravelMob on my own.
My first project with Laravel was http://ratewait.com - a yelp like site to rate your waiter. This took me 3 months of coding every weekend and ever night after work. It was exhilarating. What a feeling to know that if you could dream it you could build it (or at least a prototype). Ratewait got a few dozen users, but didn’t catch on. I think people felt weird taking their waiters picture. I was ok with that, and got thinking on what’s next.
I decided to scratch my own product itch. I always wanted a site where I could write short posts about the book I’m reading and leave a link to things mentioned in the book. That’s why I built http://booknug.com and released it earlier this week.
My nug: don’t be the ‘ideas person’, go build something.