The Department of Product
AI makes a comeback, Klarna's new product, how to create your product principles, Microsoft earnings and Hinge's plans for improving safety
Project management that works for the whole team
Hello product people,
AI is officially hot again. Following the rise of new forms of so-called ‘generative AI’, product teams and investors alike are scrambling to develop new use cases and products for the emerging technology. One product called Lex has been wowing content writers with its ability to create prose and marketing content and generate ideas for blog posts on the fly. Further cementing its shift into the mainstream, OpenAI, the team behind text-to-image product DALL-E also announced this week that it is entering a partnership with stock image giant Shutterstock. The partnership will allow users of Shutterstock to enter terms to generate images, much like it works on the native application on OpenAI.
Generative AI isn’t without its problems though; it appears Google has already trained its algorithms to identify generative AI content and rank it lower than human edited content. In an experiment conducted by Neil Patel where 50% of content was written or edited by humans and 50% by generative AI, a steep 17% decline was reported in SEO traffic for pure AI-gen articles vs a modest 6% for articles edited by humans. Other commentators, too, have argued that generative AI is unlikely to be the paradigm shift its proponents are hoping for.
Whatever happens, in the near term at least, many product teams will be re-evaluating their strategy to consider relevant applications of the technology.
Meanwhile, earnings season kicked off again this week. Microsoft reported its Q1 2023 earnings with revenues rising to $50.1 billion. Microsoft Cloud revenues hit $25.7 billion in revenues, up 24 percent year on year and LinkedIn posted a strong quarter with revenues up 17 percent year on year. Other notable earnings this week include Alphabet’s YouTube which saw its ad revenues drop for the first time.
In other product news, fresh from its cost of living inspired partnership with Deliveroo, buy now pay later app Klarna has announced a new search shopping tool. Spotlight allows users to compare prices across thousands of retailers and to browse interactive, shoppable video content.
Finally, if you and your team use Figma and you’re looking for quick ways to get inspired by other company’s websites, this new plugin will make life a lot easier.
Enjoy the rest of your week!
Your product briefing
Principles can help guide both strategic decisions and tactical decisions. Sure, they’re not the only factor you should consider when making tough decisions, but as both a decision making tool and a tool for inspiring teams as a leader, a set of clearly articulated and regularly updated product principles can massively boost your ability to build winning products. (Department of Product)
Managing product, design, and engineering teams on the same platform is difficult. Every team works in its unique way. Height enables cross-functional teams to visualize and manage tasks in a Kanban, Gantt, spreadsheet, or calendar view. And thanks to task chat, discussions happen in context, in real-time. Create your free workspace. (Sponsored)
In this article, I explore, categorize, and standardize heuristic evaluation methodologies and data visualization to help inform which method to choose. Like many UX designers, my go-to heuristic evaluation approach is Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design, first published in 1994 and updated in 2020. (Medium)
With the overnight popularity of OKRs, many teams have tried to use them but have run into issues and challenges. It doesn’t help that there is a lot of bad advice about OKRs. Join us on 11/2 at 11 AM PT for our webinar with Christina Wodtke, author of Radical Focus, as she shares the most deadly mistakes companies make and how to get real value out of OKRs. (Sendbird ad)
New product features – Wikipedia adds new growth features to help newcomers to wiki editing
Research has shown that newcomers struggle to edit and continue editing Wikipedia because of three main challenges: technical, conceptual, and cultural. They currently do not have access to the resources they need to surmount those challenges. To give these things to newcomers, the WMF Growth team has built three interconnected features, described in more detail below. These features have been shown to increase the activation, retention, and edit volume of newcomers. (Wikimedia)
New product launches – Amazon launches an insurance comparison site
Customers can fill out a questionnaire about their requirements, the type of property and available amenities to get a quote from insurance providers. Users can then compare different offerings with ratings by others to pick the best plan. Amazon provides a checkout experience for insurance on the portal — just like for other consumer goods. It will take a cut from these sales but it didn’t mention any information about the commission percentage. (Techcrunch)
Tweets worth reading
Former Uber Eats and Apple engineer Apoorva Govind explains why Apple’s new privacy laws are destroying direct-to-consumer ecommerce brands
Here is a thread about unintended consequences
Typically 60-70% of direct-to-consumer brands in the US are on @Shopify. Brands who sell on Shopify do so because they’re able to drive a decent amount of traffic to their site with their social media ads. CAC isn’t too high.
— Apoorva Govind (@Appyg99) October 10, 2022
Resources – The Growth Newsletter
The best way to improve your marketing? Study what top marketers are actually doing. The Growth Newsletter is the raw, no-fluff way to do just that. Each week, we interview experts to get actionable growth tactics. Then we share them with you. See examples and get the next one here. (Demand Curve).
In Crafting The First Mile of Product, Scott Belsky talks about the product lifecycle. In it, Scott states:
- Users flock to simple product
- Product takes users for granted and adds more features for power users
- Users flock to simple product
When people think of simple products, they typically think of consumer products. That is usually where one looks to find the current peak in user experience. There has been a renaissance of user experience and design in B2B use cases over the last decade, but those typically revolve around single use case products. (Eventbrite CPO Casey Winters)
Strategic analysis – Is this the end of Excel?
Over the past decade, alternative spreadsheet apps seem to be making solid gains. There’s a spreadsheet built into everything these days. There’s one in Quip, a simpler office suite founded in 2012 and acquired by Salesforce for $750 million in 2016—the same year that Notion was founded. Notion is a notes app growing fast enough to have raised over $343 million—and its tables, a cross between a database and a spreadsheet, are another tool chipping away at Excel’s dominance. Coda, another notes app that launched in 2014 and has raised $240 million so far, went so far as to liberate spreadsheet functions—like calculating an average—from the sheet and put them in your prose. Airtable, the database app, is more Microsoft Access-meets-2022 than Excel, yet it, too, is taking over tasks many previously would have been relegated to a spreadsheet. (Every.to)
Other product news in brief
- Bolt is launching a virtual shopping assistant for a personalised shopping experience
- EK Chung has joined reddit as VP of user experience. Chung previously worked for 12 years at Google, Microsoft and Yahoo
- Apple has officially launched macOS Ventura and iPadOS 16
- Hinge plans to add video verification as romance scams sore
- AWS exec Pravin Raj is leaving the company amid a discrimination and harassment lawsuit by a former employee
- Calm has launched a clinical mental health offering
- Apple’s VP of industrial design is leaving after 3 years of taking over from Jony Ive
A selection of the latest jobs posted on the Department of Product job board.
VP Product, Highline (US / remote)
Highline is a payments startup that helps billers and lenders accept repayments from their customers’ payroll. By automating bill payment from income, consumers can get approved for credit more easily and pay down loans faster without worrying about missed payments and overdraft fees.
Product Lead, Rogo (New York City)
Rogo is a search application for finding, analyzing and visualizing data.
Notion Q&A, Amazon Maps and Hallucination rates
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GPTs for everything, Google Maps gets Immersive, Netflix’s QR codes
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Google Slides’ superpowers, a Sublime second brain, Pinterest’s PMF
Plus: Tech salary report, how to manage API integrations, Spotify, Instagram and LinkedIn MAUs in context
Discord monetization strategies, Slack ditches X, Spotify growth
Plus: 50+ product analytics tools, Microsoft impresses, Google Meet gets appearance enhancers
Netflix’s $8 billion quarter, Figma in limbo, Synthetic UX research. Plus: YouTube’s major release, a new way to manage your calendar, the Web Technologies Report 2023
Freemium fallacies, Shopify AR, Space OS. Plus: Instagram Threads says no to news, Spotify on managing 500+ squads, Dropbox’s CEO defends remote work
Google Docs’ new competitor, AI wars, App industry benchmarks
Plus: Airbnb’s ML patent, DoorDash’s swipe for restaurants and Uber expands to returns
Spotify’s voice clones, Apple’s new patent, surge pricing surges
Plus: Snapchat’s subscriber milestone, a GA4 alternative, DALL-E 3
Google Bard Extensions and TimeOS
Plus: Slides gets indicators, WhatsApp payments expand, Fitbit’s makeover
Uber’s secret task rabbit and DuoLingo’s new Music app
Plus: Retool AI, permissions simplified, Meta’s powerful new LLM