πŸ“» β€” A Simple Workflow for Community-Driven Product Design, Development

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Good morning yeniverse!

I’m not even going to lie: I had a wonderful weekend! Here are a few pics:

It was a quick trip up north with the kiddos so we could get a bit of snow-action! I managed to work myself to the bone building a slide from the front-yard into the backyard β€” just as much fun as writing these newsletter issues!

🀣

Here are some other great links to check out and share before we jump in:

  1. Mockups for any site. Free stock video footage! Pitch deck database.
  2. Templates in minutes (online editor). Covalent. Translate stack.
  3. Push yourself… how hard, really? Audio-first community handbook.
  4. Ryan Smith and his dad. Group chat to group Slack. Crowdfundly.
  5. Get paid to teach via Telegram or WhatsApp. Anonymous feedback Slack.
  6. Taiwan the civilization. StackOverflow’s community plan for 2021.
  7. Fandom’s tips on building a great (fan) wiki page and community.
  8. WallStreetBets on building community. Oh, and you know what to do.

To infinity & community,

β€” john


If you didn’t catch the underlying theme throughout the 4-part business-building series last week it was this: Community, all-the-things. And the results have been pretty decent with nearly 2,000 views, 20+ new email sign-ups, and a ton of connections mixed in-between.

Remember, the “secret” to writing a good newsletter, building a business and/or community (and building anything new on the internet) is to create value for folks through content (and conversation) and then not quitting:

Remember that this newsletter didn’t exist but a few months ago!! Now, we’ve got a growing machine of not just content but also of community as folks around the internet at talking about what we’re all talking about.

This isn’t rocket science folks! It’s about showing up day-in and day-out and producing value for the folks that you already love hanging out with. That’s community, at least for me.

And if you’re building something larger β€” like what I’m building in the form of a CommSaaS (a communty-centric B2B SaaS) β€” then you’re going to want to especially be community-driven because that’s how you save a ton of time, money, and resources while you’re developing out your product.

Here’s a recent example of community-driven product design & development through a few interactions that we’ve had in our own community that allow us to build a real sense of momentum as we co-create and collaborate with our early-users:

Dustin, an early yenizen and tester of our community-building platform, is giving us some feedback on what he believes is an opportunity to maximize screen real-estate in our UI.

Dustin (being Dustin) even went as far as breaking this down for us visually in a design map that he created for us:

He had some words to share!

You see, from his perspective, it didn’t make sense to dedicate 12% of the screen real estate and design to a space that isn’t useful outside, perhaps, the first few views.

The team and community couldn’t agree more! Consequently, I gave him some feedback and immediately created a ticket in GitHub for this improvement:

Our plan is to now do just that! I spent some time coming up with a few ideas in my notebook and shared them with the team:

It’s poorly drawn, the idea on the top is the existing meta area and then it collapses down into just the logo, the # online, and the total # of members.

Then we put this together with our designer, Alan, who came up with the following animated version of this:

We’ll try to implement this feature in one of the upcoming release cycles!

As you can see, this is essentially the entire “workflow” of a community-centric way of doing product design and product development:

  1. Launch as soon as possible (remember, it’s a process, not an event!).
  2. Invite your community members to speak directly into the process and the product, get feedback in any way that you can using any and all community / community tools at your disposal.
  3. Capture feedback in a useful way; diagnose patterns and execute against opportunities that will create immediate and obvious value when you implement them.
  4. Thank your community profusely and let them know that it’s captured and that you plan on implementing it! I personally don’t forecast delivery dates since it can get us in trouble with managing expectations.
  5. Loop back with the OP (“original poster”) when it gets done.

And that’s what I plan on doing when it gets done! I shared this publicly on Twitter as well β€” feel free to let me know what you think!

Here’s one more example is a very small and simple addition that not only improved on existing usability workflows and conventions but also improved on them β€” by a single and significant click!

Here’s what we came up with:

Here, we were asked to create a faster and more efficient way of connecting directly with other members in the yeniverse β€” so, we added a small button off of each post:

This is one-click less than what Slack provides, for instance, in a similar workflow and user-experience via their web and native app:

I always like the opportunity to improve on existing conventions because this is less cognitive waste or dissonance for users; in other words, it’s familiar enough so that new users of our product will find it intuitive and useful.

And, for us, being able to connect more directly and quickly with other members of the community is part of our core mission as a company, culture, and the product platform itself.

All this to say, community-driven product development is a much better way to do business and to build product; it’s more collaborative, drives deeper emotional buy-in from community members (because they feel like they are part of the solution, not just using the solution) and you often wake up to life-giving feedback like this:

Hah! I, of course, will take it!

This is part of the larger CommSaaS Wayℒ️ of putting community as a fundamental part of every single process while you build your product. Besides building a better product you actually build faster β€” I simply can’t imagine doing it any other way at this point in my life.

The high-level workflow for a quick recap:

  1. Launch immediately.
  2. Get feedback, start building connection / community.
  3. Capture feedback from community members.
  4. Thank them for feedback, plan and then build.
  5. Loop back and let them know it’s been implemented.

That’s it! When it works, it really works. It’s a beautiful thing that creates a real sense of shared purpose, a sense of real ownership, and an intensely satisfying collaborative process that ultimately builds stronger connections between you, your team, and the wider community.

You build a better product, a better community, and a better business this way; there’s all upside here folks! To infinity & community.

/end

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