The reshuffles in management in Google+ recently attracted a lot of press comment and speculation. I thought it an appropriate time to look back on the last couple of years and see what broader product lessons we can learn from the inception, launch and evolution of Google+.
1. Build around people problems, not company problems
2. Perceived benefits need to be greater than perceived effort
3. Ruthlessly focus and descope, be patient, the internet is young
4. Embrace the idea that life is messy
5. A fast follow product strategy doesn’t work when you have network effects
6. Google+ suffered shiny object syndrome
7. People need clear conceptual models that exist in real life
8. Distribution often trumps product
So what to do next
Remember that product strategy means saying no. To understand what people problems Google+ might solve, focus on a tiny number of these, possibly even just one, and make this simple to understand, just as Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Secret have done.
Google+ is incredibly complex and hard to understand. Simplify the product offering by killing features, and lowering the effort required to get value out of it by killing many of the choices in the UI.
Finally, and most importantly, it needs to build upon established real world social norms and conceptual models. We’re still only getting started with social software.
Whilst social science patterns are very well established, there are no established ways to build social products. Copying competitors is unnecessary. There are so many things we can make better for people if we carefully and deliberately observe and understand their world.
image source – Intercom – Product Strategy in 7 minutes