+2 votes
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asked in Product Design by (548 points)
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4 Answers

+2 votes

Dave, Ayush – One of the things I would recommend, in addition to the awesome answers that you both have presented is the competitive landscape. Looks like the second product (Dave’s solution) is actually a lot like Facebook groups. Meetup is another product that helps people with similar interests get together. What do these solutions already provide and how will your solution – solve a problem that is not solved by these products?
What about suggesting a product that collects your interests (by asking you for input or having you login via Facebook, Google or Twitter) and then shows groups with similar interests in one location – scrape information from Meetup, Facebook groups, Facebook events, Craigslist groups etc all in one place. That way – a unique need of seeing all groups with similar interests collated across multiple social media platforms can be shown in one place.

answered by (135 points)
0 votes

Me: Can you provide more context on this, are we designing a new mobile application, a feature that would work with existing social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter?
Interview: Design a new application that can integrate with social media platforms.
Me: ok, will this only focus on the US market or worldwide?
Interviewer: For now, only in US
Me: sure, let’s start off by segmenting the market to identify our target segment that can bring most value to the application. I would assume that the initial goal of this application would be to acquire new customers through a freemium model.

When I think of users of social media, now days almost everyone is on one. lets break the market into segments by age groups. For me, that is one of the most significant drivers to the number of active users on social media.
Type 1: age: 15 and below. These are kids who are active on social media platforms but can be limited in their ability to a certain extent. Even if we manage to connect them with other kids of similar interests/hobbies, it is ultimately the parents who is the decision maker. So in this case we would need to address the needs of both kids and their parents.

Type 2: ages 16-35. They are more tech savvy, like to stay in touch with people across the world, are very interested in sharing their daily experience on social media and also likes to look at updates on their friends and families. They are very outgoing and have the time to engage in activities outside of their daily routine.

Type3: ages 35 and above – For me, the third category is anyone who is a parent, has the responsibility to look after a family. There are still very active on social media but sometime could be tied down when it comes to engaging in activities outside of their daily routine. Many of them like to spend some family time when they are not working. They may still like to connect with people with similar interests but might not be as readily available to carry that relationship forward in terms of actually spending time engaging in activities.

Now, because our app is looking to connect people with similar interests/hobbies. The key for us is not only to connect these people but increase engagement within them. This would help the network grow as we provide our customers with more value and reward for spending time on our platform. Considering the above factors, I would make Type 2 as our target segments, more easy for us to break into as they are more likely to change behaviors and actually engage in activities.

As a type 2 customer, they want to be able to identify people around them that love doing similar things so they can have a good time in their company.
Lets walk through a customer journey from the moment someone decides to look for people to connect with and ends up having a really good time in their company.
1) Someone is bored or is looking for something interesting to do on a weekend but does not know what or with whom. So they goto our new application.
2) They scroll though the recommendation page looking at profiles of people with similar interests.
3) They scroll through the recommendation page of activities in their interest. There could be an admin for the activities page.
a. This could be an outdoor activity like bowling, go karting, movie etc.
b. This could be an indoor activity/interest like reading books, cooking, cleaning the house.
4) Once they like a profile, they send a request to connect
a. Connect with an individual
b. Connect to a group
5) Request is accepted:
a. When the other person accepts the request, the app notifies the users and directs them to a page with suggestions of activities to do in the area that are in line with both users interests/hobbies. If it is an indoor activity, for example reading crime fictional books, the page provides recommendation of similar books other user had read and provides feedback.
b. When the admin of the group accepts the request, everyone in the group is notifies of the new connection and their interest in the activity. Now these users can connect on an individual basis by sending them request.
6) The app can also provide recommendations of other people on the network interested in those activities with the option of joining their group.
7) Once the connection has been made:
a. Individual: Our user can select a few activities and that sends a notification to the connection. Now, the connection on the other side can select from the list of activities or pick something other than that. This would again send our users recommendation. The cycle can repeat until both agree on a mutual activity.
b. Group: user can propose something to do within the interest of the group and others within the group can join.
8) Once our customer has decided on what activity they are interested in, we can provide links and reviews of different third party sites that serves their need of booking a ticket, renting a car etc, buying a book, joining a cooking class.
9) When the users select from a list of activities, the app notifies other users with similar interests close to them, with the option of them also connecting with the user.
10) When the activity is complete, the user provides feedback on their experience.

answered by (16 points)
0
In above scenario, we have two options of connecting people:
a.    Individually to a specific user
b.    Connect to a group related to their interest.
Now, as a PM, I would like to prioritize my case because the above two scenarios would require different features on the application.
When I think about my target customers, they are people that are interested in connecting with strangers over social media that have similar interest. If I put myself in their shoes, I am less likely to actually engage in an outdoor activity when I am a part of a group of unknown people for mainly below reasons:
a.    No proper communication between two individuals that creates less of a personal communication.
b.    I might not be comfortable with meeting 10 new faces at a time compared to engaging with 1 or 2 individual.
c.    There are chances of miscommunication when many people are involved. Also it might be difficult to get so many people together to agree on a time and date.
So, for above reasons, I am going to prioritize my application development based on people connecting with individual users with similar interests.
Now, I will provide my recommendations around the scope of potential solutions:
1)    When a user is on our application, the key thing for us is to identify their area of interests. There are multiple ways to do this:
a.    Ask our users to manually input this data on our application when creating their profile. This might be overhead work for them and could result in abandonment of the process.
b.    Enable users to link their other social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter. We can then gather data about their interest in the following manner:
i.    From the users profile
ii.    Use AI to scan through users posts, pictures and activities to identify interests.
2)    When a user is scrolling through a profile, we would want to show pictures of the other person engaging in that particular activity. This can again be done in multiple ways:
a.    User creates different albums for different interests with pictures of them doing that activity. We can then use the pictures from these albums. For example, if I am interested in bowling and reading books, I have two separate albums. Now the person looking at my profile is interest in bowling, so the application picks up pictures from my bowling album and displays it.
b.    Develop an AI that can extract pictures from other linked social media accounts of the user based on the interest.
3)    Once the individual users are connected on the application, we can provide following to increase engagement:
a. links of things to do based on their mutual interests, guide them to the website. Provide feedback and comments from other users who have done this activity.
b. Provide discounts and coupons if they go ahead with the booking.
c. Share pictures and experience of other users who tried out that activity using out application.
d. a points program where they earn loyalty /engagement points for doing the activities. This could lead up to users getting into an elite category. Once a customer in elite category, they are likely to get more requests from people.

Now, for me all the above recommendations are significant in terms of increasing user engagement, but in order to build a MVP, I would like to make tradeoffs based on customer impact and cost of implementation.

1)
a.    Manually enter data – customer impact – low, cost of implementation – low. This could be a problem for us as many people nowdays do not prefer to spend time on adding data to their profiles. Could lead to losing users at this point in the journey.
b.    Link account to facebook, twitter- customer impact – high, cost of implementation – low. It is not uncommon for applications nowdays to connect to various social media platforms. For example, we can use facebook connect. This would not only make it easier for our customers but would also enable us to leverage facebook’s world class collection of data. One of the problems could be that facebook does not agree to do provide any data on the customer.
2)
a.    Different albums for different interests – customer impact – med, cost of implementation – low. The only downside to this is that customers might not like spending time on manually uploading pictures.
b.    AI tool – customer impact – high, cost of implementation – high. Our customer would just love the fact that we pick their best pictures from across platforms and display it for them. Downside is that many social media platforms might not agree to provide access to their data. Creating an AI tool would be very expensive.
3)    Customer impact – high, cost of implementation – low. We provide customer with more incentives by providing discount coupons/ loyalty points. We can also charge third party websites for providing links to their websites. I do not see any downside to this as long as we provide trusted partners links.

So as a PM for this product, my MVP would be an application that enables quick registration using facebook connect and allows for different albums based on interests. We provide our users with incentives to engage in activities using our platform.
0
Hi,

Thanks for posting your answer. There are lots of good features / solutions listed. I have some feedback on the structure of your answer:

– I suggest you segment the user to multiple persona’s based on the main problem you’re solving for – connecting people with similar interests / hobbies. Example: segment based on frequency of connection, types of interests / hobbies, purpose of connection, etc. This gives you an opportunity to think about very specific needs / use cases that relate to the particular persona you’re building a product for.

– Your use cases / needs and features are a bit mixed together in one step. In the step where you’re listing use cases, you’re not solving yet. You’re just listing out the key needs of a particular persona. Examples of these needs are: they need to find people with similar interests, they need to be able to join a group with similar interests, they need an ice breaker to make it easier for them to join the group, there will also be use cases that are specific to the persona you’ve
selected.

– Only after you’ve listed the needs, you go to the next step, prioritizing the use cases and then listing out the solutions / features.

– I would also word the solutions in a way that it’s super clear to the interviewer how a solution / feature is solving for a need that was highlighted earlier. You do this well because solutions and needs are currently in one section. During the interview process however, you should separate these two sections and still make it clear to the interviewer how a feature is solving for a particular need you’ve highlighted.

– After listing out the solutions, you will do the evaluation and decide which features will make it to the MVP.

I’m going to publish an article that goes over “how to answer a product design question” soon. Stay tuned.
0 votes

First some Questions to better understand the problem statement.
1. Is the goal to build an app the connect people with similar interests? Yes.

1. Step 1: Identify the user
a. I would split the user demographics into age groups
i. 12-24 (millennials)
ii. 25-34
iii. 35-44
iv. 44+
b. Each of these core groups may have similar interests/ hobbies and different expectations of what they may expect out of an App
c. Some potential use cases would be finding fellow surfers, hikers, photographers, investors, job networking, etc.
d. This app could either be positioned –
i. as a serious networking tool
ii. something more general to meetup where like minded people could come together and create their own groups for discussion
iii. or something that is entirely fun – where the core focus of app is just to bring people together with similar interests but offering it in a less serious way.
e. Based on the problem and assessing the TAM both based on volume of users & usage, this app is most likely to resonate with the 12-34 demographic. These users are very tech savvy, have muscle memory on using similar social apps and are open minded to meet with new people.

2. Step 2: Identifying user needs/problem. Now would be a good time to list out some of the problems that the app intends to solve for the user
a. The idea of connecting with people based on interests and hobbies is difficult if there isn’t a common place to meet and discuss. Apps have made this possible. This app intends to solve an existing need for a variety of people from different geographies, backgrounds, cultures and age groups to connect on common interests and building a shared experience for fostering ideas, networking and making friends.

3. Step 3: Articulating some of the user needs in stories
a. A way for users to join groups or boards based on a pre-determined list of interests & hobbies on sign up
b. A way for users to create interest based groups and allow for new users to either automatically join the group or be able to join after permissions from admin.
c. A way for users to post ideas, like comments/post, reply to posts in each of these groups
d. Ability for users to post events on meetups, hangouts with date, place (with maps integration), image, links and time options. Sync this with phone’s calendar to create reminders for the user
e. Since this is mostly for groups to come together – group chat makes most sense in foster collaboration and community level discussions. Potential to integrate group-chat functionality for users within an interest group to chat as a group. This functionality could be extended to offer both voice and video chat options.
f. A way for users to bring their contact lists from existing social networks, platforms (fb, twitter, google) to kick-start the community
g. Another way to spur these connections is a location based option on a map. Offer a map in-app with icons of users in the area that brings together users in a more organic way. An example – I’m at a Pink Floyd concert, would love to meet up with fellow Floyd lovers at the concert venue and enjoy the event together.
h. A way for either the admin or the app’s technology have a moderation feature to prevent unsafe comments
i. A way for a user to set their privacy on if they would not like to be visible on any location based features.

4. Step 4: Prioritize use cases & evaluate tradeoffs for MVP
a. The idea here is to come up with the MVP based on the most important features in terms of customer impact vs. cost & time considerations, but also to make sure that those features align with a specific target group listed above.
b. Based on that here is the hypothesis on what should go into MVP
i. 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3f, 3i – High Customer Impact. These seem to be high impact for instantly on-boarding users, engaging them and providing the value they seek from the app. For integrations, several API’s are available specifically for FB/Twitter graphs/sign ups.
ii. 3e – Good Customer Impact, Higher effort. This requires that app work very well on low bandwidths if it offers voice/video with good compression. Possibly can come in later versions
iii. 3g – Good Customer Impact, Differentiator, Higher effort. To implement this would require some intelligent way of presenting nearby users. This feature is most useful when the app already has many users.
iv. 3h – Good Customer Impact. Not a requirement for first version. When more content is updated in-app is when this becomes a requirement. Until then it can either be user moderation or manual.

5. Step 5: Summary
a. Our goal is to build an app that provides people of varied interest and hobbies to come together in a seamless way. This app intends on providing users a platform to collaborate, foster ideas and have shared experiences in an enriching way through simple boards, discussion groups, events, etc.

answered by (28 points)
0 votes

I would first ask what we are designing. Is it a mobile app, Facebook app, website, etc? Let’s say the interviewer says I can chose the form of the product. I’ll go with a Facebook app.

I would also clarity around the meaning of “connect”. Do we mean that they can connect with each other in the online world or they can physically meet and connect with each other? Let’s assume it’s meeting in the online world.

I would also ask some questions about the demographics of the people. Are they young (15 to 30), old (+60) or mid age (30 to 60)? Let’s assume that they are in the young age range, which means they already have Facebook accounts.

After getting clarity on the question, I will want to come up with a goal for the design of the product. Let’s assume the goal is to enable people with similar interests to find each other and engage in conversations.

When I think about who I’m designing this product with mentioned goal and young age group in mind, a few persona’s come to mind:

– Active hobbyists: they are very passionate about their hobby. They like to educate others. Answer questions. Organize events. Here are some of their use cases:
” They’d like to be able to discover people with similar interest
” They’d like to be aware of events
” They might be interested in organizing events
” They would like to be informed about events related to their interests
” Learn about the latest news in their area of interest
” Share their opinion on what it means
” They might decide to directly engage with someone who has similar interests to engage in a conversation about their hobby
” Engage in conversation with other fans on the topic
” Share their opinion and other information with their circle of friends in their social networks

– Occasional hobbyists: members who are interested about their hobby. They like to learn from others and are willing to less engage in conversations. Here are some of their use cases:
” They’d like to be able to discover people with similar interest
” They want to learn about the most important news in their area of interest
” They would like to be informed about events related to their interests
” They might decide to directly engage with someone who has similar interests to engage in a conversation about their hobby
” They would like to ask questions
” They would like to see interesting content / information shared by the rest of the members

– Curious explorers: they are interested in learning more about an interest or hobby. They are still exploring and might just want to learn. Here are some of their use cases

” They’d like to be able to discover people with similar interest
” They would like to be informed about events related to their interests
” They would like to ask questions
” They would like to see interesting content / information shared by the rest of the members

There are a few use cases that are common among all the user groups listed above. I would prioritize the following use cases because they are either common among all three persona’s, are simple to implement, and have high benefit to the users.

Prioritized use cases:
” Be able to discover people with similar interest
” Be informed about news in the user’s area of interest
” Engage in conversation with other fans / hobbyists
” Be informed about relevant events
” Be able to post and answer questions

Now, here are my solutions to solve for the listed use cases:
1. Group finder: User can type their areas of interest to search for groups
2. Group Suggest: The app uses user’s history of Facebook activities to suggest new groups / interests / topics for the user to join and engage with
3. News Feed: Enable user to choose their area of interest and select what news / information they’ll be receiving via email.
4. Ability to post, answer, and view questions
5. Enable users to vote up / down on ideas to help everyone see hot news and topics
6. Option to add events and inform fans of the particular hobby / interest
7. Separate content based on topic, type of content (educational, fun, etc), media type (video, audio, etc)

Now, I will evaluate these ideas based on two criteria : impact on the customer and implementation effort.
1. High impact, low effort
2. Medium impact, medium effort
3. High impact, medium effort
4. High impact, low effort
5. High impact, low effort
6. Medium impact, low effort
7. Medium impact, medium effort

Based on the evaluation above, I would prioritize features 1, 3, 4, and 5 in my MVP product.

answered by (16 points)

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