How do you build products that customers love?

Michael Ludden / November, 2017


Michael Ludden is the Director of Product at IBM’s Watson Developer Labs & AR/VR Labs. Previous to that he worked with product and developer marketing at Google, Samsung and at HTC. In this video, Michael mentions the importance of being brutally honest and keep it simple stupid when building products.

Video transcript:

How do you build products that customers love?

In terms of building great products developers love. IBM as a company has been slow to catch up in that space. My background and my perspective tell me that what we’re doing now and the path we are on right now is a good one. And that is really, you have to, first of all, acknowledge that developers are your audience. They are your consumers. If they are your buyers, they are your buyers, if they’re not, then they are not.

When your building products its kind of keep it simple, stupid. Solve a problem that they have, in a way that’s easily consumable. Give them an opportunity to see the value whether it’s free to try, a pay-as-you-go API platform, or another model as long as I can see the value. Then give them an opportunity and make it explicit as to the next step that they can take. You don’t try to be marketing and force it on them.

In my experience the best marketing is, and this is cliché, it’s great product design. They sell themselves. I noticed myself when I shipped products in the past. The ones that actually serve a need get an organic uplift in terms of social presence on Reddit, Hacker News, on this and that. People just post stuff they are like ‘hey, this is interesting, check it out’. If none of that is happening especially if you are paying for SEO and other marketing dollars. Then you know you’re not serving your audience.

In order to serve your audience, if you’re not close to them, if you’re not out at events all the time. You need to get some sponsored users. Get some developers in your office who maybe don’t work for the company and ask them tough questions in a safe environment. People are afraid to ask questions like, what do you think of IBM? Have you used IBM products? What do you think of Watson? What were some of the things you liked and didn’t like? Be brutally honest. People don’t want to hear that, but you have to ask those questions in order to design for that audience. Because if you don’t, you’re just guessing.



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