The Department of Product


Thursday, 27 October, 2022

AI makes a comeback, Klarna's new product, how to create your product principles, Microsoft earnings and Hinge's plans for improving safety

Thursday, 27 October, 2022

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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!


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Your product briefing


Strategy – Product Principles examples for Product Managers

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)


Tools – A new app for visualising projects in cross-functional teams

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)


UX – 10 usability heuristic frameworks for product teams

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)


Webinar – How to Get OKRs Right with author Christina Wodtke

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


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).


Design – 5 ways to address complexity in your product 

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. ( 


Other product news in brief


Featured jobs

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.

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Google Slides’ superpowers, a Sublime second brain, Pinterest’s PMF
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Product Briefing – October 26, 2023

Discord monetization strategies, Slack ditches X, Spotify growth
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Product Briefing – October 19, 2023

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

Product Briefing – October 5, 2023

Google Docs’ new competitor, AI wars, App industry benchmarks
Plus: Airbnb’s ML patent, DoorDash’s swipe for restaurants and Uber expands to returns

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