My product management toolkit (34): product principles

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobodies are the same but you leave them all over everything you do.” Elvis Presley

Values” — each organisation has got them. Whether they’re explicit or implicit, strong company values underpin everything a business does (and doesn’t do). “Serve Our Users” for instance is a core value articulated in the Google Code of Conduct: “Our users value Google not only because we deliver great products and services, but because we hold ourselves to a higher standard in how we treat users and operate more generally.”

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  • Design principlesSpecific principles that drive product design, both in terms of the user interface and the experience. For instance, companies have design principles around their app content or navigation.
  • General product principles — Those principles which apply to building great products and whicvh are agnostic to company values and apply to every product.
  1. Who should use product principles? — Everybody in the business. Just as much as company values apply to all employees, I believe that product principles work the same. To think that product principles sit exclusively within the domain of a product person feels limiting. People across the business are involved in the product and should therefore at least be aware of the product principles.
  2. What do good product principles look like? — In essence, good product principles should (1) link closely to the overall company mission and values (2) be concrete enough to enable decision making (3) be easy to remember and (4) be specific enough within the context of customer outcomes. For example, at ecommerce platform Shopify the mission is “to make commerce better for everyone, no matter where they’re located or their level of experience.” From this mission statement, Shopify has derived its (product) principles: (1) put merchants first (2) empower but don’t overwhelm (3) build a cohesive experience and (4) be polished but not ornamental.
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  1. https://svpg.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Example-Principles.pdf
  2. https://svpg.com/the-product-manifesto/
  3. https://uxcellence.com/2015/product-principles
  4. https://medium.com/@ElWexicano/product-principles-better-products-65e64f784c2b
  5. https://inside.6q.io/190-examples-of-company-values/
  6. https://abc.xyz/investor/other/google-code-of-conduct.html
  7. https://medium.com/etsy-design/creating-etsys-design-principles-4faf31914be3
  8. https://www.jasonshen.com/2014/no-silver-bullets-etsys-randy-hunt-on-product-design/
  9. https://polaris.shopify.com/guides/principles

Written by

Product at ASOS, author of "My Product Management Toolkit", family, boxing and founder of @hiphoplistings and blogging via http://t.co/uGr5nRye

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