When I was writing my new book about product management, I wanted to have someone write a foreword who truly understands the human side of being a user. Someone who would inspire my readers to see why product management is such an important part of design success. And I knew that the best person for this is Whitney Hess.
I’m fortunate to consider Whitney Hess a friend. Not a friend in the sense that I can call her up on her cell phone whenever I want, or show you a bunch of selfies that I’ve made with her because we hang out. Rather, Whitney is the type of sincere person who, once you’ve had an opportunity to meet her, considers you her friend. And will make time for you to answer questions via email, meet you somewhere for a meal when in the same city, or do a favor to help you out.
Simply put, Whitney not only writes and speaks about achieving excellence in user experience — she lives it and makes it personal via her empathy, generosity, and kindness.
So I couldn’t be happier that she said yes when I asked her if she would write the foreword to this book.
And I’m proud to say that her foreword is inspiring and more. Without giving it all away, here’s an excerpt:
A great product solves a problem for the buyer and the seller. It might start with a wild idea, but over time it can revolutionize an entire industry and change people’s behavior forever.
A great product makes you faster, smarter, stronger, cleaner, or superior in some way. It lets you bring 5,000 of your favorite songs with you everywhere you go, track the exact speed and distance of your morning run, or read an audience’s inner thoughts about whatever the conference presenter just said. It helps you quickly shred a block of cheese, perfectly divide an apple into eight equal slices, or remove stains with a magic pen.
Take a moment to look around and count the number of products you use on a daily basis. I stopped counting at fifty. Inventions you simply can’t live without are everywhere: the living room, the office, the bathroom, the boardroom. All of these places contain the brilliance and hard work of someone who thought something could be done better.
For as long as humans have existed, we’ve been filling our surroundings with tangible products. Over the last decade, we’ve been filling our pockets and purses with virtual ones. But one thing is true whether these products are physical or digital: they occupy space. And space is finite. That means every time you decide to bring a new product into your life, you’re making the space unavailable for something else.
Consider it: You’re as unlikely to put two lamps on your nightstand as you are to wear two activity trackers on your wrist. Products force you to make decisions about what you want, what you need, and what you’re willing to spend (in time, money, and effort). You make a sophisticated cost-benefit analysis whenever you consider something new, and many times again for as long as you choose to keep it.
As someone who makes products, your goal is to make the decision to buy and use your creations easy and obvious. And regardless of the industry, form, culture, target audience, or price point, one universal factor will determine your success: purpose.
User Experience Coach, Vicarious Partners
September 25, 2013