As product designers we spend a lot of time trying to understand user friction and solve for it in the products we build. Doing so is absolutely critical to delivering delightful experiences for our users. I find though that sometimes teams are only perceiving and solving the most basic forms of user friction and aren't taking on some of the harder to perceive yet incredibly important higher level forms of friction that users are experiencing. So I wanted to share how I think about the hierarchy of user friction and provide examples and best practices for solving for each.
User friction is really anything that prevents a user from accomplishing a goal in your product. I categorize user friction into a hierarchy of three levels: interaction friction, cognitive friction, and emotional friction. Interaction friction is what I hear talked about most often amongst product designers, but the higher levels of cognitive friction and emotional friction are equally important to solve for to build a great user experience.
I'm often asked what's the best way for a new product manager to learn the fundamentals of the role or for an experienced product manager to continue to master their craft. Most folks are looking for a pointer to a book or a class they can take on product management, but I always reply with a collection of blog posts from practitioners sharing their best practices. I still believe these remain the very best resources on the topic. So I wanted to share the collection of posts I've curated in Notejoy over the years from incredible practitioners, writers, and thought leaders across the industry both in and outside of product roles.
I've organized this collection into several sections, starting with product management 101. I then break down the resources into the way I think about what a product manager does, which is drive the vision, strategy, design, and execution of their product. Each section covers the best practices for each of these four dimensions of product management. I then have a section on product leadership, which is important for all product managers, but especially for senior folks looking to advance in their career. And finally, I include a set of resources for managing a career in product management. In order to provide a comprehensive resource, I've included a few of my best posts at the bottom of each section.
The best way to take advantage of this collection is to dedicate 10-20 minutes each day to read through a post or two and work your way through the whole collection. Once you have you'll undoubtedly have a deep understanding of the role and what it takes to be a great product manager.
I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking through how to optimize my personal productivity to drive the greatest effectiveness. In doing so I've reflected upon how there have been specific times in my life where I'm completely in the state of flow, accomplishing far more than I've ever accomplished, and absolutely loving every minute of it. And at the same time there have been days where it just feels like I'm doing sloppy work and can't seem to get my ideas to click. And I've thought about what was so special about the former days and what could I do to have far more of them. I call this unlocking my inner beast mode and I've been experimenting with a variety of practices as I pursue my latest startup to drive maximum productivity. Here are five best practices that I've discovered so far that work well for me and hopefully may be helpful for you as well.
I'm a firm believer in needing to find your personal passion/skill/opportunity fit as the ultimate path to career fulfillment. Only when you find a career that you're passionate about, that you can also be skilled at, and one that has sufficient market opportunity will you achieve ultimate career satisfaction. And it takes a careful balance of all three dimensions because simply finding fit along one dimension unfortunately won't result in success nor fulfillment.
While most folks found value in this framework when thinking about career fulfillment, some wondered what was a viable process by which they could actually get there. They knew that the role they were in wasn't it, but also didn't know how to find their personal passion/skill/opportunity fit nor how to start heading in the right direction.
To provide my perspective on this, I wanted to share my own career journey and how I specifically leveraged an explore & exploit algorithm at every turn of my career to ultimately find my dream job.
When I first started learning about product design, one of the most influential books I read was The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. In this classic work, Don Norman sheds light on the design of every day objects like doors, stoves, thermostats, and more. He then applies these universal design principles to designing technology products. Don Norman is one of the leading thinkers on human-centered design and the principles he writes about are required reading for every product designer. I still reference these principles daily in my work designing Notejoy. So I wanted to walk through each of Don Norman's six principles of designing interactions and how they remain relevant to designing digital products today.