Product Identity Crisis ?

[ Cross posting from the SlicedBread blog ]

Ashish wrote a post about the importance of recognizing exactly what business you are in.

This cannot be over-emphasized during the early days of a product, or a startup. You cannot be nebulous about exactly what problem it is you’re solving, and for whom. The trick is to tackle this at as fine grained a level as you can (and not just at a we’ve-built-a-tool-let’s-see-how-its-used-level). If you cannot answer clearly enough for the first guy who asks this question to understand, its unlikely that users will see easily that its for them!

One trick I’ve found useful is to think in terms of nouns and verbs first when describing use cases, and avoiding the adjectives and adverbs. Also, pick verbs that can be acted out immediately – say – in a dumb charades or pictionary game. Or at least something multiple can clearly visualize as the same action or activity. “Evaluate”, “enhance”, “express” are some words that could be too ill-defined to capture or communicate a use case effectively. “Add as friend”, “read the shared content”, “rate the movie” are much clearer. As you start capturing it clearly, you will start debating the value each brings to your core idea more clearly as well.

And – this is my favourite take on all things computer science – its all about inputs and outputs. So given all those verbs and nouns, what does your product ask for, and what exactly does it give ?

Who are you ?

Update: One of my friends tweeted this morning (that I'd RTd) about FB's identity crisis. Quite relevant!

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