Sometimes, Hate Helps
I love my iPhone. But I hate rearranging its applications by dragging them into place, one by one, with my finger. It’s slow, tedious, and difficult to do across multiple screen instances.
Today, Apple announced a fix that will let me do that kind of work in iTunes instead. But instead of talking about the importance of usability in a product, which should be pretty obvious, let’s talk about the importance of hate, which might be less obvious but an important competitive advantage.
World’s Finest #194 & #195 present a good case for how veering into the darkness can bring you back to the light.
In World’s Finest #194, an undercover Batman suffers a knock to the head that convinces him he’s actually a mobster. In WF #195, Superman maneuvers Batman into a situation with Robin and Jimmy Olsen that so fundamentally challenges Batman’s moral code that it restores his memories.
Product managers need to do the same thing.
Not masquerade as mobsters, suffer amnesia, or threaten teens into digging their own graves. But stop trying to get customers and users to like you and your product, and instead figure out what it is about your products that people hate.
Sometimes, you can just ask them. Other times, it’s worth sitting with customer service to get a sense of what the users of your product are talking about.
Taken on a case-by-case basis, it might seem like nothing’s there. Just isolated incidents. Crazy people. Cranks. But if you take a step back, patterns may start to form.
Angry emails and hate can mask real issues. New problems to solve that could make a mediocre product good, and a good product great.
(Now, to start rearranging those apps on my iPhone via iTunes.)