A few weeks into my LinkedIn role, I realized that as obvious as it was to me what qualities comprised a great product, defining "great" in this case could be a highly subjective exercise. If we were going to be successful as a team, it was important to ensure that we all shared the same definition of greatness, and were working from the same playbook. With that in mind, I shared the following thoughts regarding five dimensions shared by all great products.
1. Delivers on a singular value proposition in a world-class way
Above all else, great products have a clearly defined sense of purpose, deliver value in a singularly focused way, and do so as well or better than any other product in the marketplace. Google presents a canonical example.
When first introduced in 1998, many questioned why Google would even bother with search. Alta Vista had already come to define the genre and for the most part, people thought the search problem was essentially solved. However, through its singular focus (a search box offered on an otherwise blank page), a game-changing approach towards search relevancy called Page Rank, and an audacious goal to index the entire web, Google not only surpassed Alta Vista as the clear category leader, it went on to fundamentally change the way society organized and accessed the world's information. It would eventually become one of the most valuable companies in the world.
2. Simple, intuitive, and anticipates needs
Waze is a mapping app that combines the best of driving directions and the collective intelligence of drivers to provide real-time updates regarding the most efficient way to get from point A to point B. It's extremely simple and intuitive to use: Just type in your destination, pick a route and you're off. As good as that experience has always been for me (can't count the number of times it's shaved 10-15 minutes off of what would otherwise have been an hour-long trip), it was a simple, anticipatory feature that took my appreciation of the product to another level.
3. Exceeds expectations
I've long been a huge fan of Sonos. The product is extremely easy to use and delivers on its singular value proposition in a major way: Enabling customers to listen to music on demand from any room in the house. After installing several units many years ago, it re-introduced me to my love of music and dramatically increased my overall music consumption. However, that's not why it's been included as an example of exceeding expectations. The reason I'm writing about Sonos is the company's customer service.
4. Emotionally resonates
Shortly after taking on the new product role, one of the first things I did at the weekly staff meeting with product executives was have them write down a favorite product and a description of how it made them feel. Once completed, each person was asked to stand up to explain their answer. The point of the exercise was for everyone on the team to see how much enthusiasm and passion people conveyed when talking about a great product experience.
When it came time for one of the more laconic execs on the team to stand up, he excitedly began talking about his Tesla Model S, and remarked it was like "driving the future." I replied, "You've got to be kidding me," and held up the piece of paper I had written my response on. It said, "Tesla Model S: Driving the future."
We had both cited the same product and described the exact same feeling, despite having never talked to one another about it, and Tesla never explicitly marketing itself that way. Turns out, the company doesn't need to. That's simply the way customers feel when driving a Tesla.
5. Changes the user's life for the better
In ways large and small, great products change their customers' lives for the better. Every product mentioned here does that. Yet, perhaps the clearest manifestation of this dynamic for me is the one product that enables all of the other product experiences I've written about thus far: The Apple iPhone 6+ (yes, there's even an app for the Tesla).
The iPhone makes things more convenient and productive in countless ways. It provides services that inform, entertain, educate, and inspire. To a large extent, it's become more than a product: It's an extension of who I am. It's essentially become the control panel for my life.
Jeff Weiner – Influencer - LinkedIn