Let Customers Score The Product Vision

Let Customers Score The Product Vision

I own a Yahoo email account. Yahoo Mail is a very terrible product which is unusually slow. Yahoo used to work very well, but over the years, they made it extremely worse. They padded the product and at the end, Yahoo frustrates users. The most damaging aspect is the feature that keeps refreshing, annoying and frustrating the users.

If you live in a place where Internet is metered, Yahoo may not be optimal. It will not just take your time to get basic things done, it will also cost you more money.

Unfortunately, the new Yahoo Mail was introduced as an innovative (improved) product expected to serve customers better. The people that made it, perhaps created it in California, where internet speed might have been very fast. They had the perfect world and everything looked good for them. They saw no problem.

Yahoo does not have a global team spread as Google. Sure, it is now under the control of AOL, but that company also does not have local teams, across the world, as Google does. For Google, it has staff in practically most parts of the world.  Their people use their products in the most natural and practical modes. That helps Google to understand the realities on ground, helping it to make products that meet the needs of customers from many regions.

Yahoo and AOL do not have that luxury, because in their minds, the world must be like America, Japan and Western Europe and anyone that cannot conform  to those could be forgotten. That is a big problem.

Lesson for Founders

There is a lesson I am trying to draw here with this preamble. According to Fortune Newsletter, Google continues to optimize its search to ensure it works in different environments, saving people, in the emerging world, money on data.

Google tests “light” search app. The search giant is testing a data-friendly version of its search app in Indonesia, where connectivity and mobile data allocations are limited. The pilot is one example of how Google is attempting to cater its products to emerging markets, where it sees the next wave of Internet consumers.

That is it: Google has simply understood that even though the product may work very well in New York, it may not be optimal in Indonesia. This is the way it has innovated around the world, putting local realities in its products. When you try to use Gmail in slow internet, it quickly suggests using the HTML version to help improve the experience. Google is also investing in local languages thereby making sure that no opportunity exists for any competitor to sneak in.

Google sees product vision from the lens of the customers, focusing not on the supremacy of the product from Google’s point of view, but rather from the customer who is using the product. This makes Google to deliver a lesser aesthetic and ergonomic design to a customer in Accra who is more interested in saving money on metered Internet than how great the site looks.

Your product vision does not matter if what you have in mind is not what customers are getting. Internet business is not really about making the best graphics or websites, but rather, serving customers at the best possible way.

I see sites designed for African markets with so much graphics and video contents that play automatically on visits. Personally, if I am in Lagos, I do not visit sites that play videos automatically on arrival. I used to read ThisDay Nigeria but when they started the auto-video, I avoided them. I hate to be in a client’s office and then without my control, my laptop will start making noise.

Only customers can score product vision and the most complicated is not really what determines success. “Product is what customers say it is”, says Francis Oguaju (a LinkedIn user), and the way you deliver it to them matters for a digital product. You have that product you are testing which will be used across West Africa. Instead of doing real live test, you run it in your test server (in your above Internet speed Lagos HQ)  and everything comes back 100% fine. Then product is launched and users are complaining from all parts of the region.

Why? Under slow internet, your product fails. I have dealt with this in a bank client’s headquarters. We quickly updated the going live strategy requiring that the bank tests across more than 13 states in Nigeria, making sure the tests happen away from the bank branches where Internet was typically faster than the ones used by customers. Now, when new products are launched, the customer experiences have improved.

Add SSL to Your Site

Yesterday, Google sent this email below and it does mean that sites without SSL will be heavily penalized by Google ranking system. Not just that, Google will be sending security warming on your site if you do not have SSL when users want to complete simple Contact-Us forms.

To owner of [Site Name]

Starting October 2017, Chrome (version 62) will show a “NOT SECURE” warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode.

The following URLs on your site include text input fields (such as < input type=”text” > or < input type=”email” >) that will trigger the new Chrome warning. Review these examples to see where these warnings will appear, so that you can take action to help protect users’ data. This list is not exhaustive.

….

Here’s how to fix this problem:

Migrate to HTTPS

To prevent the “Not Secure” notification from appearing when Chrome users visit your site, only collect user input data on pages served using HTTPS.

Simply, there is no reason why you should not have SSL if you plan to make progress online. If your customers want to complete your form and see a warming, that will be the beginning to the end of your business. They will run away. There is no better product vision than making sure that Google likes your site.


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