Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Product Manager: Product must be fun to use

Fun is not the first thing that a product manager thinks about when designing a product.  Especially those of us in enterprise software market.  People think that making something fun would only apply to companies like Zynga, Electronic Arts, etc.  But I think we all want a fun product as consumers, and we are all underestimating the effect of having fun when we use the product.

A classic example of a fun product is computer games.  It is purposefully created to deliver 'fun' to users.  So if we analyse what games deliver to their players, we must be getting closer to definition of 'fun'.

There are many wonderful talks available on YouTube about introducing game mechanics to your product, so called gamification.  I recommend talks by Amy Jo Kim, Gabe Zichermann, and Jane McGonigal.

Let me put them in my own words.  A fun product does following things:

1. It invites users in by revealing itself along the way.

A well-designed product does not need a manual.  It should be obvious how to use it.  If it's complex enough to need a manual or training, pay attention to user onboarding steps to make sure a new user can pick up the tool and start using it right away.

2. There are lot of feedback to users.

Users get plenty of feedback from a well-designed fun product.  Some call these 'juice'.  Some feedback could be visual and some could be auditory.  More often they are both at the same time.

3. It shows the way to get better with the tool.

All cool products show users how they can get better at using the tools.  People are intrinsically motivated to get better at something.  Daniel Pink calls it our intrinsic drive to attain mastery of something.

4. It lets each user measure how she is doing.

It's well known that we get better at things that we can measure.  A fun product lets users measure how well they are doing it and helps you see where you rank relative to other users.  Klout score, Twitter follower, YouTube view count, etc. are all examples of this.

One product that I recommend all PMs to take a look as a case study is Farmville 2.  Zynga has just launched its sequel to the flagship game Farmville, and it shows a good example of how it delivers each element.

See if you can identify all gaming mechanics used.

1 comment:

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