During a pitch practice at the Founder Institute, I heard something that really captured my attention and inspired me to think about product stories in a new way. After describing a scenario, the founder in the hot seat said:
“… I want to own that moment.”
I started thinking about which successful products own which moments in my daily life. Here are some examples:
- ” I want to share some files with my team”. DropBox owns that moment
- “I’d like to show you how I am imagining this interface”. Balsamiq owns that moment
- “I want to embed a form in my blog”. Wufoo owns that moment
- “I want to create a cool slideshow for my website”. Animoto owns that moment
- “I am starting a new client project”. BaseCamp owns that moment
- “I’d like to know what my friends have been up to lately”. Facebook owns that moment
- “I’d like capture some thoughts.”, Evernote owns that moment.
You get the point.
Unfortunately, many products come out so bloated with features that it’s hard for them to own any specific moment. They are trying to offer too many features and several benefits that users are left wondering “When will I need this?”.
I believe that products should focus as much on WHEN as they focus on what and how. If your product is the first name that comes to mind at a specific moment, then you’ve owned that moment. And when you own a moment, you don’t just have a user; you have everyone involved in that moment.
So how do you identify that moment?
You can guess it, of course. But that’s not the best way to go about it.
One of my favorite activities is to ask users to think aloud while they are trying to accomplish certain task. I constantly encourage them to tell me what’s going on in their mind while they are looking at an interface or clicking through dialogs. After the task is done, I ask them more questions about that moment. Why were they struggling with that screen? What were they looking for? Why didn’t they try to accomplish it another way? What would have been the best way to accomplish that?
When I identify a recurrence of that moment, I make sure it goes into the user stories and is highlighted as a potential moment that the product can own. When marketing and sales are consistent with these stories, they can provide a clear message that will trigger the product’s name when someone finds themselves in that moment.