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Help Your Users Get Promoted

The Key to Designing Effective Digital Products

When designing enterprise software, our true end users are the individuals behind the monitors, not just the companies they represent.

In the competitive enterprise space, the success of a product is measured not just by its functionality but by how it enables users to achieve their own personal goals. For example, while working on advertising platforms like Facebook and Pinterest, I focused on optimizing the experience for individual roles within these companies. Julia, a marketing manager, needed to optimize ads quickly to manage her time better, while Joe, an account manager, required clear reporting features to secure larger budgets from clients.

A common mistake in building products is assuming we know what users need without engaging with them directly. At Facebook, while working on Ads Manager's redesign, we had the opportunity to shadow our users during their daily job. It's incredible the amount of behaviours you can pick up just by looking people using your product. For instance, we observed that ad traffickers always started their day by customizing their dashboard to show only the few key metrics actually needed to optimize their ads. That led us to implement a feature that remembered their preferences, significantly simplifying their daily workflow and allowing more time for strategic activities that are recognized and rewarded. It was a small change, but it made the product more efficient and delightful to use.

This approach to design requires a blend of qualitative and quantitative research. Observing users in their work environment provides deeper insights than surveys or interviews alone. These observations are then validated with data to ensure our designs truly enhance user efficiency and satisfaction.

However, focusing on individual user needs presents unique challenges, especially when balancing them against broader business objectives or when the product serves diverse user groups. The biggest challenge often lies in truly understanding who our users are, what they aim to achieve, and how they operate within their own organizations.

Ultimately, the goal is to design products that not only solve the task at hand but also enhance the user's ability to perform exceptionally well in their role. By focusing on helping users excell at their jobs, or as I say "getting promoted", we not only increase their loyalty and satisfaction but also their effectiveness, which in turn benefits the entire organization.

In conclusion, we should always prioritize what we build based on our users' real jobs to be done. By doing so, we turn every feature into an opportunity for users to shine, making our products indispensable tools in their professional journey. This is not just good design—it’s strategic empowerment.