comSysto at Mind the product 2014 #mtpcon

When I started my journey to “mind the product conference”, I was looking forward to the pubs. I knew that this was Europe’s biggest product conference, perhaps even the world’s largest one. I expected it to be a great event with many speakers and visitors from around the world. However, I was not really sure what to expect from the conference or the kind of educational experience it could offer me.

The mtp workshops

The day before the conference I joined the workshops. I’ve been particularly looking forward to the half-day workshop “Analytics and Testing” with Craig Sullivan. It’s known that most companies create their products solely based on assumptions without prior investigation and within the scope of user tests. The consequences that follow are wasted development investments, frustrated users and lost time to generate early competitive advantage. In Craig’s Workshop, UX, Analytics, Testing and Innovation were some of the topics discussed. Furthermore we discussed the importance of Copywrite-Testing. A variety of informative practice examples were also presented. In order to provide you with some practical examples from our projects, another blog on this topic would be recommendable.

My highlights from the #mtpcon

I was very excited about the conference the following day. More than 1,000 visitors from 39 countries have gathered in London’s Barbican Centre.

The first speaker, Kathy Sierry, spoke about Badass users and how their motivation to utilize the product initially is not the problem, but the problem is rather, inspiring them for the long term. No user will say that the product is amazing because marketing tells him so. Marketing is able to increase the initial motivation to use a product. However, it does not have the ability to increase a user’s product loyalty. A user might say that the product is great because it arouses his sustained attention and helps him distinguish himself through its use. In conclusion, additional investments in marketing do not bring much, because motivation is not the key to successful products.

In a recent project, we discussed the solution of a user problem. One proposed solution was to solve the problem through an improved first level support. This means that additional service investments would be needed and more importantly, additional interfaces for the user would be created. Furthermore, this approach would reduce the product’s value for the user.

There are successful and happy users who often represent our personas, but there are also the disappointed and frustrated personas that help us make our products more successful those are the users who don’t want additional service levels and marketing fixes. Frustrations in product’s use and interaction result to increasing distractions, which eventually leads to negative trends in the user’s product conversation.

In order to reduce the decreasing attention for the product, Kathy recommends to focus the user’s attention onto more important things and to help him to automate user behavior.

In another lecture, Nir Eyal reported on how to create Custom-forming products, which provide automation in the handling of the user. Nir describes Custom-forming products as the “cigarette of the 21st century .”

But what is needed in order to develop such products? What we find in habit forming products are hooks that connect the user’s problem to their solution with enough frequency to form a habit.

It requires a trigger, an action, a reward and an investment.

You can find triggers everywhere. Negative emotions are powerful triggers. In a depressed mood, people check their mails more often than in a driven mood. When we feel lonely, we use Facebook. When we get bored, we watch a video. Negative emotions are powerful triggers for actions.

The easiest way to trigger an action is through the expectation of a reward. Pressing the play button or scrolling to more tweets are simple examples of such actions. When we desire something, the reward system of the brain is activated and our desire for a reward increases. Basically there are three types of reward systems that can be distinguished and used for product development:

  • Reward by one’s social environment. In social media e. g. a “like”.
  • The reward of information – on twitter we hunt for information.
  • The reward through one’s own achievements – The next level in the game or the tick of To-Do’s.

The investment is the least recognized hanger. Investment is about the user’s future expectations. Sending a contact request on a trading platform will let the user, in the expectation of a response, come back to the platform. After selling an item on eBay, users hope for a positive assessment of the buyer in order to enhance their own reputation, and the more followers on Twitter users acquire, the better their advertising effect. Those are very simple examples for investments, but are you also using these hooks in your products?

Investment is the most powerful hook to effectively bind users to a product. But to turn this hook in successful features is the supreme skill

For me, Kathy’s and Nir’s lectures were the most exciting ones, which in their joint consideration result in an excellent synthesis. The other lectures were also very inspiring. Overall, the conference has been a great success! In the following video you will gain some more insights from the conference.