Liip Blog Kirby Tue, 08 Jan 2019 00:00:00 +0100 Latest articles from the Liip Blog en Turn your building into a power plant - and earn money with sustainability. Tue, 08 Jan 2019 00:00:00 +0100 Exciting opportunities raising new and complex questions

In Switzerland, 2018 began with a revolution in the electricity market. Dues to the federal government's energy strategy 2050 and the new Swiss energy ordinance, owners of solar plants can now sell their own solar power in a private community, a so-called self-consumption community. For investors and owners of solar plants, the new possibility presented interesting chances of earning money with solar power. But it also brought new and complex questions. How exactly do you bill your own solar power to your neighbours? Which electricity tariffs apply and what is legally permitted? How do I proceed to manage and setup a self-consumption community?

We wanted to provide answers to precisely these questions. In a common project, Smart Energy Link and Liip developed a new service for easy and user friendly management of self-consumption communities - with a customer portal based on modern open source technologies.

Solving complex problems with Service Design, a cross-functional team and an agile approach in several stages.

At the beginning of the project, we faced quite some challenges: On the one hand, it was very challenging to reconcile all the legal, technical, energetic and structural requirements and at the same time make all that accessible for the users. On the other hand, we were in a completely new field for everyone involved. At the beginning of the project, there was hardly any experience in this area and, accordingly, no users we could interview. Last but not least, the new possibility in the Energy Ordinance also opened up an interesting field for new business to many of our competitors. A fast time-to-market was therefore crucial in order to secure a pioneer advantage for SEL in this new market.
For us, the key to success in this project was a user-centered approach with service design, in order create a easy and userfriendly solution. Furthermore an agile implementation with several stages helped us to achieve a fast time-to-market.
Tthanks to a cross-functional team consisting of software developers, service and user experience designers, lawyers and energy experts, we were able to gather all the necessary knowledge in close cooperation.

"The cooperation with experts from various fields was essential for this project. We could only develop the current solution in this quality in a team - and besides, it is much more fun to work together on a common goal. "Stefan Heinemann, software developer Liip.

Stage 1: Implementation of a first version in order to gain experience with real users.

As no experience with self-consumption communites in the market existed yet, we broke new ground with the project. Therefore it was essential for us to be able to gain experience with real users as quickly as possible. In the first stage of this project, we focused on developing a first functional version of the technical solution with which we could put the first self-consumption communities into operation.

The focus was on developing a first version of a webbased customer portal and linking it to the hardware in the building - the meters. To make the huge amount of data from the meters accessible - as an essential basis for controlling, optimising and billing the communities. In joint workshops we designed the core of the portal and the data model and created first design prototypes. We implemented them in 6 development sprints with Scrum and were thus able to present a first version of an integrated technical solution in time for Swissbau 2018 in Basel in January - and at the same time celebrate the commissioning of our first communities.

The fast market launch (GoLive of the first version was only four months after the first concept workshop) was retrospectively crucial for the development of the entire SEL service. On the one hand, we got already concrete visible results, that caught the attention from potential customers and investors. On the other hand, it enabled us to gain empirical information concerning the needs of the different user groups. This enabled us to further develop our future service based on users needs. Although we were operating in an area that had no users at all at the beginning of the project.

Stage 2: From software to a holistic, user-centered service - with service design.

With the launch of the first version, we also began optimising and extending our services for real estate management companies. Within the first phase of our Service Design project, we evaluated the needs and experiences of our communities as well as their property management companies with user interviews. This enabled us to obtain facts and clarity about their needs and pain points.

The most important finding? A seamless integration of our service into the existing systems and processes of classical property management is key. The less additional effort the management of self-consumption communities causes, the more they are willing to initiate self-consumption communities and manage them with our solution. Furthermore, we recognized the huge need of a simple and reliable billing process - taking into account the complex structure and legal constraints of the Swiss tariff models.

These findings were the basis to set clear priorities in the second development stage. In a joint ideation workshop, we worked on how to easy manage and especially bill self-consumption communities professionally without having to acquire any expert knowledge.

We worked out these ideas in Service Blueprints and developed simple prototypes for them. We did storyboards for the entire service from the setup to the billing and worked on concrete wireframes for the user interfaces.

Afterwards we carried out further user tests with various property management companies. In interviews we tested the content of the service for correctness and optimisation potential. In a second step, we iterated with the so-called RITE method on the wireframes of the new billing in the customer portal. This has given us clarity about which of our ideas we chose to implementing and how we can improve usability and comprehensibility. Especially the iteration with the RITE-method brought a lot of knowledge in a short time.
"The user tests clearly pointed out which features and functionalities are most important for our customers. Prioritizing features and tasks is much easier when we can develop them based on concrete customer needs. And we have been able to optimize many usability points with minimal effort.” Tobias Stahel, CEO Smart Energy Link

With the findings from the user testing and the revised wireframes, we had everything needed. We started to tackle the implementation of development sprints in a very targeted manner. After 6 further sprints in December 2018, this resulted in another GoLive - among others with the new possibility to bill a self-consumption community in just a few clicks.


With this second GoLive, SEL and Liip not only look back on an intensive journey together, but also on an extremely exciting project with many learnings. In summary, we see these central learnings in the project:

1. User interviews provide security The interviews and user tests were essential for the content of our solution. They gave us more confidence to be on the right track during the creative and development process. It was helpful to realize, that some of our initial ideas were not really a user need. Dropping them saved us a lot of development effort and money with just a few days of user testing. Looking back, we could have conducted interviews even earlier - some of today's functions would probably not have been developed at all after the last user tests, since they are nice to have, but do not provide any fundamental added value.

2. Clear user needs make it easier to prioritize where to work on: The prioritization of tasks and features is much easier, if we can base on clear customer needs and not just assumptions - as we knew which ones would bring success and which ones doesn’t.

3. Experts from different areas are essential for good services: Typical aspects of service design projects are the complexity and the multilayeredness of the challenges needed to be solved. Typically, they can rarely be answered by one person. In order to find good solutions in such a complex environment, cross-functional teams are essential for a good solution.

4. Agile Sprints help to leave the hidden chamber quickly: The Scrum Sprints proved to be extremely helpful in such an unknown environment to gain experience and to realize a fast time-to-market.

5. Service Design helps to make complex things simple: Last but not least: With this project we have once again proved that even in a technologically, legally and thematically highly complex environment, easy and user-friendly solutions can be developed. Service design as a holistic and user-centered approach is the structured method - with Scrum for a flexible and fast implementation.

Jugend und Medien - the portal for youth and media literacy Thu, 03 Jan 2019 00:00:00 +0100 The goal

Jugend und Medien (Youth and Media) is the national platform of the Bundesamts für Sozialversicherungen (Federal Social Insurance Office) which supports media literacy. On behalf of the Federal Council, it aims to ensure that children and youngsters use digital media safely and responsibly.
I'm very happy to have contributed to such an important step, focused on redesigning and improving the whole User Experience Design:

  • identify the main user needs
  • simplify the information structure
  • reorganize the content
  • increase general consistency
  • give a fresher look towards a richer experience and “brand” awareness
  • improve the emotional connection

The old website

Previous website

The challenge

  • tight budget
  • collaboration with external development agency
  • many user groups and different needs
  • amount of content, crosslinks and different languages
  • create a digital experience coherent with the print identity

The redesign

The new website not only provides a more modern look but mostly an improved user experience

As mentioned, Jugend und Medien is a portal with specific information on how parents, teachers, staff of special needs institutions, youth workers and educators can promote media literacy in their day-to-day life. They can find tips to help the younger generation protect themselves from the risks of media usage and networks.


Homepage new website

The homepage sections provide direct entries to the current trends and main user journeys. It combines the latest topics, the most popular (most viewed) pages, numerous offerings and related news.
The main navigation focuses on the major areas for parents and tutors, while for professional experts, there is a separate menu that leads to information on key topics and events, political initiatives, legal foundations, and cantonal strategies.
The clear information architecture and extended spectrum of content resources (texts, images, videos, pdfs, contacts, external links, facts and statistics) assists all the users finding answers for their needs.

The website is built in 7 different templates, from dynamic to static pages, from overview pages to detail pages, all follow a consistent page structure for a better usability.
The typography contrast, the yellow elements to highlight, and interactive components like accordions also improve navigation and readability. For longer pages, we developed a sticky sub-navigation which offers an easy page-content scan and a jump to a specific section.
Last but not least, the new look brought a much modern touch than before! Lighter, with more "white space", and more comfortable for reading.

Overview page

Themen new website

Detail page

Thema new website

See more on

The collaboration with the client

With an open mindset, we decided to start from scratch and avoid being influenced by the existing website. In a workshop with the BSV team and the support of Andreas Amsler (ex-Liiper), we listed all the user needs and grouped the data in different ways, striving for an improved concept – simpler and more intuitive –, appropriated for an information portal aimed to address parents and guardians.
Fabian Ryf, our Digital Analytics & Performance Consultant, validated the conceived information architecture from a SEO point of view. That way we ensured that content can be easily found and understood, also through search engines.

After the core structure was defined, we matched the existing content to it, splitting, merging, cleaning and even re-writing a lot of it. By refining the whole architecture we achieved a more usable and structured journey, now also with clearer content. It was just about time to adapt the interface too.

The whole concept was vivid in my head since the beggining. As we didn't have much time for sketches and wireframes, I quickly redesigned the new page templates and styleguide, attempting to involve developers as soon as possible (remember, they were external to Liip, which adds extra complexity). By the end, the client was happy, and so was I! The visuals were validated, the guidelines were defined and the project could move to implementation.

In the meantime, the client, the developers and I were exchanging on a very regular basis, reorganizing the content to fit the requirements, reshaping design to support the users, documenting updates for developers, all in fast iterations.

I must say that I really enjoyed collaborating with Collete Marti and Yvonne Haldimann. We accomplished a great result with meetings in a mix of English, French, German and Portuguese!
Visiting their Bern office allowed me to get to know the people, the environment and sense the corporate identity which I had to replicate digitally.

The collaboration with the developers

In 6 years working at Liip this was my first experience partnering with an external development agency.
I can say that I’m spoiled by my daily work in cross-functional teams where close collaboration is key for greater results. At Liip, from the very first pitch to the last line of code, User Experience Designers and Developers participate in workshops and co-create, building a product together until the end.
That said, to manage expectations when collaborating with an external partner isn't an easy task at all...

UX Designers alike might share the feeling that often what we conceptualize it isn't implemented accordingly. We design something, ship it to "the other side", and get back "half" of it. It's so frustrating that we – the so-called divas – end up doing "developer-centered design" instead of "user-centered design"...
Luckily it wasn't the case! Thanks to design-eyed-frontenders I had the chance to work with, and the use of Sketch + Invision we shared guidelines and comments, finding compromises and solutions together.

I would like to thank the development team for the amazing efforts: Raphael Wälterlin, Manuel Bloch, Patrick Gutter, Sebastian Thadewald, Michael Bossart and Co.

The result

The huge work from the BSV team and super commitment from cab services ag allowed us to achieve what I'm proud to announce at

Lex4you, the call centre of the future Thu, 20 Dec 2018 00:00:00 +0100 TCS wanted to provide a wide audience with access to useful, easily comprehensible information on legal questions that arise in various areas of everyday life. In addition, the lexCall online service was developed for a limited target audience. Via lexCall, TCS insurance holders can directly contact lawyers from TCS’s Legal Protection service using WebRTC (voice over IP) technology, in other words a phone call made using a web browser. Pascale Hellmüller explains how using the Scrum method enabled this platform to be established online within the given time frame, whilst also ensuring satisfied end users.

Liip assisted the TCS project team throughout the process of developing this multiservice platform.

A first in the field of legal assistance

Liip: What is lex4you? And what is its purpose?

Pascale Hellmüller: lex4you is an interactive online platform that offers legal information. Three services are available. lexSearch offers everyone access to useful, comprehensible information on legal questions, that arise in various areas of everyday life. lexForum enables users to get to know each other and discuss their experiences with everyday legal issues. lexCall enables a limited audience, primarily TCS Legal Protection insurance holders and holders of insurance from some of our B2B partners, to gain legal information directly from a lawyer online via a voice over IP call.

What was the situation before lex4you?

Unlike its competitors, TCS Legal Protection did not offer a specific service for gaining legal information by phone. Before lex4you, this service could only be offered as a gesture of goodwill. We wanted to align ourselves with our competitors and provide this service to our insurance holders in an innovative way.

What is the situation after the go-live of lex4you?

The aim of lex4you is to provide guidance to our insurance holders: firstly via the online platform itself (open access to texts and documents plus a forum), secondly via the lexCall telephone service. Lawyers answer calls directly and immediately provide insurance holders with information. We support our insurance holders in legal situations in which they may feel helpless. We guide their approach, even if there is no legal dispute. The lex4you platform also allows insurance holders to submit a request for a call during business hours. We wanted to strengthen our customer service by fostering the proximity between our lawyers and our insurance holders.

How did the project go?

If I had to sum the project up in two words, they would be dare and learn It was a form of gambling that proved to be an extremely positive learning experience – for everyone and from all perspectives. We did not have any digital experience in the field of insurance. Using the Scrum method was something new for me. Organising this as a project, that is encouraging a participatory approach for all stakeholders, was also a new experience for the management of the relevant business unit.
The agile approach is demanding. It implies a rigorous approach and the definition and respect of a certain framework. This framework was defined in conjunction with the business unit management. This exercise enabled the project team to be independent when taking development-related decisions and to facilitate the project’s progress.
The Scrum approach allows multiple iterations, and lessons can be learned every three weeks. As soon as we realised that we can adapt to the lessons learned, anything became possible. With the right partner and the right mindset, there are no obstacles, and everything ultimately works.

Liip was very creative in facilitating our work.

The benefits of using the Scrum method

What were the compelling arguments for using agile methodology?

We had time constraints: the new lex4you platform had to be launched in ten months’ time, meaning that we needed an approach that would allow us to meet this deadline. We also wanted a solution that would enable us to develop basic functions tailored to the needs of our insurance holders and our organisation in the first instance, and then subsequently to build on these. Waterfall approaches proved to be less suitable and generally more expensive in a situation like this. The Scrum method was therefore the best way to meet our needs in terms of time and progressive development of functionalities.

What I really like about the agile approach is that each problem can be seen as a present, because the method allows you to identify it during development and immediately incorporate the solution into the process.

What were the benefits of using this method?

We launched the project internally using our usual modus operandi. We had already worked to define the service and its functionality before our collaboration with Liip. In order to be consistent with the Scrum method, we had to be daring enough to deconstruct this concept and then (re)construct it as we went. This enabled us to benefit from the experience of co-creation with Liip.
This participatory approach brought the project team, Liip and our management together. Platform users and the stakeholders involved, in promoting and managing the service (lawyers, managers of the future service, sales and marketing representatives) were included in the successive testing phases. They were able to give their opinions on the functionality being developed, and we could incorporate this feedback into subsequent development phases.
When the project was completed, I received a comment from the management, sayingt: ‘We understand the approach now, and if we were to do it again, we would go the same way.

An innovative technological solution

Why did you choose WebRTC technology for your lexCall service?

Our initial idea was to create a conventional call centre, but we would have been dependent on telephone operators. Opting for an online solution gave us greater independence and flexibility in developing and evolving our lexCall service.
This responsive website offers WebRTC (real time communication) functionality. The lexCall service enables insurance holders to contact our lawyers using voice over IP technology without any additional cost if they connect from a computer or tablet, or within their telephone package if they connect from their smartphone.
We also saw an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. This digital solution means that there is no queue: the website shows in real time if a lawyer is available to answer a call, in three different languages (French, German and Italian). If no lawyer is currently available during business hours, the insurance holder can submit a call-back request.

What are the benefits of using this technology?

All insurance holders using our lexCall service are logged in to the platform. The system checks whether or not the insurance holder meets the requirements for access to the lexCall service. If not, the insurance holders are informed of what they should do, to (re)benefit from the service .
This means that the lawyer answering the call does not need to establish the insurance holder’s identity, saving time and making the process more secure than a conventional call centre.
We can also activate or deactivate the lexCall service at any time with a single click. This gives us better control of our costs, particularly those related to calls made, using a standard telephone network. The web solution allows us more flexibility in managing this service.

At the end of the fifth sprint, during the demonstration, I was thrilled to see that the platform was really starting to take shape. This was very encouraging. We were all at the same table, Liip and the TCS project team. Together, we were finding solutions and turning what we had designed into something real. It was fantastic. This proximity really shows that collective intelligence ensures excellence, something that is difficult in organisational silos.

Disability is normal Thu, 20 Dec 2018 00:00:00 +0100 Are you a frontender, digital designer or somehow related to the IT industry? And do you think that everyone should have the same access to information? If yes, then you will be interested in the two stories that I will tell you and in the measures that you can take to make information accessible to everyone.

Why Did I Write This Blogpost?

The first time I was confronted by the subject of accessibility was during a masters lecture. I had the privilege to meet Joe (fictitious name), a young man who is vision impaired. He showed us how he navigates the world wide web. I was impressed and I realised that there is a much higher percentage of impaired or partially impaired people than we are aware of.

In this blogpost I will focus only on the disabled people like Joe. They are regularly using the digital products we create, therefore if we ignore their needs we are not only losing a big amount of potential users and clients, we are also depriving them access to information and equal opportunities. However it’s important to remember that accessibility doesn’t matter only to disabled people. It matters to us all. Because while accessibility focuses on people with disabilities, many accessibility requirements also improve usability for everyone else.

Why Could This Blogpost Interest You?

This blogpost is aimed at frontenders, digital designers, and people working in the IT industry in general. But also for users that could help to improve digital products by providing regular feedback. It will give you the following inputs:

  • Two real stories about how disabled people use technology
  • Disabled users statistics that help you “sell” accessibility to your clients
  • Frontend and design good practices to improve accessibility

How Disabled People Use Technology

Hands taping keyboard

Being vision impaired
Sometimes we tend to forget that there are many «kinds» of blindness. This means we shouldn’t focus only on Joe's case, but also on our grandmother’s vision problem or even on our own. Joe needs a braille keyboard and software that simulates the human voice reading the computer screen. Maybe our grandmothers use a screen magnifier and we have contact lenses which help us to overcome this barrier.

Despite being bright and sensible, Joe is not equally respected within our society. People treat him like a less capable person, by not giving him equal opportunities. He feels left aside and he doesn’t understand why he is not treated equally. He mentioned, angry:

«Everybody has some sort of handicap!»

I agree with him. Just as Joe uses the tap function to browse through the website’s information, another person may use Google Translate because they don't understand the language used on a specific website.

Being Physically Impaired
Later on in the masters we were assigned to do an interview with a disabled person and to write a report about it. My report was about a teenage girl named Anna (fictitious name) who lost her right arm in an accidental crash when she was four years old. She told me what the major barriers in her daily life are and how technology helps her. For example voice messages are a marvelous communication solution and she uses them all the time. Yet activities like driving a car or like dancing Kolo, the traditional Croatian dance, will only be possible when she gets her artificial arm.

Anna, contrary to Joe, feels well integrated and happy with her life. There are some minor things that bother her but she has been overcoming all these barriers. For example she proudly mentioned:

«I even manage to dress myself faster than my cousin.»

She is aware of the existing boundaries, though she relies on technology and she is looking forward to further possibilities like for example driving an automatic car.

Disabled Users Statistics That Help You “Sell” Accessibility to Your Clients

Meeting with client

Here’s a vivid example where caring about accessibility would surely augment the profitability of certain enterprises: the ecommerce industry. Think about retired or elderly people who spend their days at home, who have time and money and love browsing the internet to look for their next holiday destination or to order books in Amazon. Or think about a young deaf couple. Or think about Joe and Anna. These people are motivated users, however they need IT experts to help them overcome the digital barriers.

Ecommerce entrepreneurs rely on statistics. In Europe, according to the Labour Force Survey (European Commission-Eurostat, 2002), 10% to 15% of the population has a disability (visual, auditory, physical or cognitive). This corresponds to 50 to 75 million people in EU27. There is a strong correlation between disability and ageing – numbers increase with demographic change. As stated in the 2005 report from the United States Census Bureau, there were approximately 54 million people with disabilities in the U.S. at that time, constituting 18.7 percent of the total population (Blogpost: Accessibility: How Many Disabled Web Users Are There?).

Do you really want to hinder millions of people from using your product? If e-shops would offer a good user experience to those people they would for sure repeat the experience and establish a long-lasting relationship with the concerned brand. This would certainly increase the conversion rate and improve sales. Not to mention the huge advantage of social integration. By not giving the same opportunities to disabled people we are possibly losing great minds, potential leaders and influencers.

Frontend and Design Good Practices to Improve Accessibility

Person writing on a postit

So here are some easy and practical good practices, which can boost sales and enable more people to use digital products.

Websites should be marked by comprehensive and meaningful names. The titles should describe the corresponding content in each page. Above all, they shouldn't be the same throughout the website. Besides that, one should avoid useless phrases, like "Welcome to...".

All images must have ALT-Attributes. The text in the ALT-Attribute should describe the image. It will be read, for example, by a screen-reader. Images without meaning must have an empty ALT-Attribute.

HTML Content shouldn't have formatting instructions. Cascaded Style Sheets (CSS) is a suitable way to define the font style and weight, the colors, the spacings etc. The content should always be readable, even if the style-sheets are deactivated. Modern browsers offer this possibility, which is used by visually impaired or color-blind people.

Relative Units of Measurement
Size specifications for spacings and principally for fonts should be defined in a relative form.
For example: %, em and rem. Absolute specifications like px, pt and cm should definitely be avoided, because in some environments (browsers and devices) when a user zooms in or out the user interface loses its proportions.

Drop-down Menus
It should be possible to command drop-down menus and similar user interface components by using only the keyboard. However, in emergency cases, it is acceptable that all pages are reached by normal links. This shouldn't of course lead to a labyrinth search.

If possible frames should be avoided, because, among many other reasons, when using screen-readers blind people easily lose their orientation.

Tables with extensive data are difficult for screen-readers to read. The summary (or longdesc) tag should be used in order to deliver a descriptive summary. Besides that, tables and cells should be labelled accordingly.

In general, high contrasts improve the readability. However they limit freedom of creativity. Certain color combinations irritate the eye. For example, the red-green combination can create problems to a colorblind person. In order to test the color combination of a design, I recommend using tools like the following:

Generally, serif-fonts like Times Roman are not suitable for screens, especially if the font weight is small.

Video clips and films should always have a textual description. Audio documents should have a transcription. Animations should be carefully implemented and GIFs should definitely be avoided, because of people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

If javascript is deactivated, websites should still be readable (if applicable the NOSCRIPT tag should be used).

Content Structure
In the web, more than ever, it's important to structure the content by using subtitles and sections, in order to make it more readable. For that the respective HTML Tags (z.B. h1, p etc.) can be used, which help to get screen-readers oriented. In order to test if the headings are correctly used and nested or to check the documents outline I recommend using this tool: HTML 5 Outliner

Forms and Tab Order
The tab order definition in forms should enable that the label always comes before the element that it describes. Only this way can a blind person with a screen-reader recognise the meaning of a form element.

The language should always be stated in the header of a page. For example:

  • html lang="de"
  • meta http-equiv="content-language" content="de"

Content based on Usility Consulting
Author: Dieter Stokar
5th January 2017

My Message to You

Many different photos from people hanging on the wall

We are constantly shaping the world wide web. Unfortunately, the majority of the time we do it based on our own assumptions or those of our clients, forgetting the receivers of our message and how diverse they can be. Disabled people are no different from people who speak another language than ours, they just are differently different from us. Disabled people are normal.

By consciously or unconsciously excluding disabled people’s needs from our work, we are partially responsible for the loss of great minds and their contribution to our society.

Our responsibility is higher than writing lines of code or preparing the next trendy design to present our customers. We are responsible for making the world wide web accessible for all.

Many thanks to Ingvi Jonasson for his support .

Take good care of your circle strategies Fri, 14 Dec 2018 00:00:00 +0100 Circle Strategies might easily fall into oblivion, in particular inside organisations such as Liip which were previously structured as a flat-organisation and in which strategy-setting might not have been a strong practice. Evenmore, for just about any organisation that adopted Holacracy exists the risk of a "strategy gap": Holacracy distributes strategy setting onto every circle throughout the holarchy (technically onto the Lead Link unless specified otherwise by the circle yet prior to the adoption, chances are strategy setting was on the shoulders of a few executives or partners).

HolacracyOne has defined and refined a pretty darn good meeting format known as the Strategy Meeting, to help circles define and update their Circle Strategies.

The meeting, in which all circle members participate, displays a very interesting sequence:

holacracy strategy meeting process
  1. Hold a retrospective outlook at concrete happenings in the recent months
  2. Take a bird-eye view on it, and extract learnings, principles, guidelines
  3. Decide the ones that will serve as Strategies for the coming months
  4. Unpack the new Strategies into concrete projects, next-actions or tensions for each role

Here’s a handy Strategy Meeting Cheatsheet to help you facilitate strategy meetings for your circle.

I can only strongly invite you as Lead Link to take good care of your circle strategies – it is one of the most powerful lever in your hands to steward the circle towards its purpose. Do schedule such strategy meetings every 3 to 6 months.

Artwork: Jansson Wind Rose, 1650, Wikimedia

My Learnings from Product Management Festival 2018 (Day 2) Fri, 14 Dec 2018 00:00:00 +0100 In case you missed it, you can find my key takeaways from the first day in this article.

Pricing as a product feature

By Kapeesh Saraf, Senior Director of Product at Coursera

We don't often rework our pricing at Liip, except for our two products Rokka and Houston SaaS.
This talk caught my interest to see how Coursera handles it.

Kapeesh first shared an interesting "Demand vs. price" graph. He said it's your goal as a PM to know where your product price is located on this graph in order to understand your users' willingness to pay.
Obviously, demand fluctuates with price: the cheaper the more people you'll have, and the higher the less persons will signup.
In order to get your price right, there is no magic:

  • Understand your persona via A/B testing. For instance, at Zynga, Kapeesh noticed that not many people would buy his virtual toaster (what world we live in...). But the one who'd buy wouldn't care about the pricing. So he was better raising the price! He said he learnt this in hindsight, by doing A/B tests and post-analysis.
  • At Coursera, which is a more "mature" and established product (degree), his experience with user surveys proved to be the easiest to go with. Although it's always a matter of techiques' combination.
Pricing is also a feature
Pricing is also a feature

The second key takeway, "Pricing as a feature", is best explained via an example: Coursera used the loss aversion's human psychological trait to increase its retention. They told their students that they'd pay less if they completed their degree faster than standard. It was their way to make sure that people would choose Coursera over Netflix when they got home in the evening. And it worked! After three years using this model, all their metrics increased.

A final reminder that I commonly share with my Liip clients about their product scope: Keep It Stupid Simple (aka KISS). Kapeesh uses it as well for pricing. He shared that the more complex your price is, the more complex your product becomes. And as with scope creep, this makes you lose customers.

How to find the right UX strategy for my product

By Sibylle Peuker, Partner and UX architect at Zeix AG

The thing I learnt from this talk is the definition of a UX strategy. Such concept is a way to align UX and Business. Sibylle summarized it with an equation:

UX strategy = Thorough analysis (of the context) + Shared vision (of the product/project) + UX methods (get the right tools) + Avoid common pitfalls

As Sybille focused on the "Common pitfalls", it left me hungry as I expected the speech to answer my current question: which UX tools and strategy to use for which kind of product, concretely.
I'll have to keep evolving my own decision-tree graph (to be shared in a future article) as I didn't get any answers there.

The speech teaser was promising, but not aligned with the talk content
The speech teaser was promising, but not aligned with the talk content

Push Boundaries of Product Growth with Innovation Accounting

By Ilia Kuznetsov and Nick Mitushin from ABRT Venture Fund

I chose this talk to see concrete examples on how innovation accounting is used by a venture-fund company. If you wanna get an intro about the concept, I recommend you to read Eric Ries' "Lean Startup" book.

Nick sees innovation accounting as a way to index the growth of a product. It's pretty simple: make plans for a metric (e.g. how many new customers are expected) to be measured into a spreadsheet for the next two weeks. Do your product improvements. Then, two weeks afterwards, have a reality check. Did your metric increased? If yes, keep improving. If not, adapt your product strategy so it aligns with what growth you wanna generate.

The point that stuck with me is a mistake we, POs or PMs, all went through at some point. That is, to focus too much (if not only) on the product backlog or spend time scoring it.
Instead, we should put all our focus on discovering the growth goals. And only then, to deduct the product backlog from it. Not the other way around.

Pictures are worth a thousand words:

An example on how to analyze various growth scenarios
An example on how to analyze various growth scenarios
EggsTV business model scenarios analysis
EggsTV business model scenarios analysis
Tracking growth every two weeks, and adapting the product strategy accordingly
Tracking growth every two weeks, and adapting the product strategy accordingly

I also asked the two guys a question: "What cohort tool do you see mostly used by startups nowadays?"
They mentioned they used KISSMetrics in the past, but nowadays, Amplitude is THE thing recommended by their analytics team members.

A final important note: they always discussed about growth, not profit. While we often associate growth with money, growth can be about impact. Or about purpose as we practice it at Liip. When you start to see the talk and tools under this lens, you understand that they can be of help in many situation to avoid waste in what you craft.

Building accessible digital products for 100 millions users

By Saurabh Gupta, Program Manager at Microsoft

As with the speech by Minal from Google about the Next Billion Users, I feared to face a complacency talk. But Saurabh was clear from the start: he is driven by Microsoft's purpose "Empower every person", but he came here to talk about business, too.

He first quoted a consultancy firm: "Organizations who look at accessibility just as a compliance item miss out on business opportunities."

Backed by numbers, it indeed looks like a huge market opportunity:

  • 1 billion people globally are differently abled
  • 4.5% of the global population is color blind
  • 3.3% of the global population suffer from visual blindness
  • And 5% from earing loss

"Organizations who look at accessibility just as a compliance item miss out on business opportunities."

Other interesting facts on which industry put strong focus on accessibility:

  1. Education — for school and colleges
  2. Government — for citizen facing portal and tools
  3. Healthcare — for customer tools
  4. Enterprise — for equal employment opportunities

He continued explaining that accessibility is no rocket science. It just takes some time during the development process. There are plenty of certification's checklist on the web. We at Liip even open sourced a tool to check your accessibility compliance: A11ym.
But the basis of all certifications remain the same: any electronic and info tech must be accessible to people with disabilities. Punkt.

The main options to enable accessibility are:

  • Use icons on top of colors only
  • High contrast & dark them
  • Screen reader ready
  • Text size and display option
  • Touch target size
  • Closed captioning

As with UX or KPI setting in a digital project, accessibility should be a design parameter. Else, if done only at the end, it ends up being too costly.

All in all I agreed with what Saurabh spoke about during his speech. Moreover with his closing sentence: Accessible design is inclusive design.

To summarize the talk:

  1. Think accessibility at the design stage
  2. Designs are final only if they're adhering to accessibility standards
  3. Define an accessibility section for your PM specifications
  4. Call the feature complete only with accessibility supported
  5. Perform accessibility testing with at least one blind user

And if it helps you, think about accessibility in business terms. It's definitely a market advantage over your competitors.

Simple icon-on-top-of-color example on how to improve the life for color-blind people
Simple icon-on-top-of-color example on how to improve the life for color-blind people

Becoming a problem solver

By Michael Perry, Director of Product and Marketing Technology at Shopify

We got to be careful about the product culture we've built. I often call this "solutionism". We must focus on problems first.

That's how Michael started the final keynote. 100% aligned from the beginning to the end!

I could relate to his chart about the addictive product creation loop (and I'm sure you do if you're an entrepreneur with 10k ideas per second):

  • You have an idea
  • You conceptualize the product, even in your head (the fun part)
  • You launch the product
  • You get your heroin dose, aka instant gratification, like buying the domain name, or kickstarting the project locally on your laptop
  • You get your early learnings while trying to find the product-market fit
  • You iterate, measure & enter hope phase
  • "Why aren't people using this?" I know! Let's build new features
  • Your mind starts to wander, you lose product interest
  • You sunset the product
  • You do a team/personal retrospective
  • And then, you start the loop over again!

To avoid this addiction, you should ask yourself this simple question:

What problem am I solving?

And to see if you're on the right track, just check if customers pay you for your service. If not, then you're not fixing one of their problem.

I loved the analogy given by Michael when he was trying to build his "Kit" product (that was then acquired by Shopify). He said: "Small business owners would rather do their taxes than marketing on Facebook."
It took him several years to answer why small business were failing at doing marketing right:

  • It seems it's because they try to do it all by themselves
  • So why aren't they hiring new people?
  • Because they have no time, no money, no trust, no way for doing so.

So Michael built the first VA employee. Via text SMS to Kit.
Once he focused on solving the problem so much, then he even forgot about the "idea" thingy.

One of his saying still resonate with me: "Product visionaries are a by-product of being problem solvers."

The key takeaways from his great story:

  1. Don't chase (technology) trends
  2. Don't chase vanity gratification in order to stay motivated
  3. Don't fake product success with vanity KPIs (don't care about # of downloads)
  4. Don't quit over failed product ideas, because you'd focus on the problem
  5. Obsess over the problem, not the solution. Do not care about the solution
The addictive cycle of product managers. Break it by focusing solely on the problem.
The addictive cycle of product managers. Break it by focusing solely on the problem.


These were my notes from the second day at the Product Management Festival 2018 edition.

My key learnings:

  1. Pricing is a feature of your product in itself. Tweaking it alone can make your client use your product even more (example of Coursera lowering its price if you finish your degree in advance)
  2. Innovation accounting is a simple spreasheet to track whether your fancy JIRA stories get an impact on key KPIs such as number of new clients or so
  3. Amplitude is the tool recommended for product analytics (i.e. cohort analysis) these days
  4. Accessibility is inclusive design. But business-wise, accessibility is also 1/7 of market share of the entire planet. I'd say that 5% of a product budget is necessary if you apply accessibility upfront. 10-20% if afterwards. For sure, accessibility is no more about compliance
  5. A good product manager focuses on problems. Relentlessly. Moreover, he doesn't care about the solution, except when it starts to fix a real problem

This conference is great. I can't help but to recommend it if you're a Product Manager or Product Owner. I'll definitely attend next year.

Digitalisierung erleben: EKZ Prototyping Workshop Tue, 11 Dec 2018 00:00:00 +0100 Der Workshop

Vor zwei Wochen konnten wir unser erstes 3.5 stündiges Prototyp Training mit Mitarbeitern der EKZ durchführen. Die von uns im Workshop gestellte fiktive Aufgabe war, eine App zu entwickeln, die einen Nutzer bei der Urlaubsplanung, während oder nach der Reise unterstützt. Die Aufgabe war sehr offen gestellt. Die primäre Persona haben wir grob vorgegeben: in Form eines jungen Paares, eines Individualreisenden, einer Familie oder eines Teilnehmers einer Gruppe.

Im ersten Schritt baten wir die vier Gruppen, sich für eine Persona und somit ein vorgegebenes Setting zu entscheiden und die Persona dann auszuarbeiten: Was für eine Art der Reise plant die Persona? Wer ist ihre Begleitung? Welche Bedürfnisse hat sie im Zusammenhang mit der Planung oder Durchführung der Reise? Auf welche Schwierigkeiten stösst sie dabei?

Danach hat jede Gruppe eine User Journey für ihre Persona erarbeitet. Es wurde festgehalten, welche Tätigkeiten die Persona in welcher Reihenfolge tun möchte. Aufgrund der Persona und der skizzierten User Journey, haben die Teilnehmer entschieden, welche Bedürfnisse die App bedienen soll und welche Funktionalitäten dafür geeignet sind.

Schlussendlich kamen wir zum “handwerklichen” Teil des Workshops und haben die App in Form von User Flows und Screens gezeichnet: in Form eines einfachen Papierprototypen. Diesen haben die Teams sich gegenseitig vorgestellt und Feedback gegeben.

Wir sind begeistert und finden, es sind tolle Ideen entstanden: eine App, die einen Reisenden mit Hund während einer Wanderung auf dem Jakobsweg unterstützt. Neben spezifischen Informationen rund um den Hund bietet sie Orientierung und Hilfe – aber sie gibt auch gleichzeitig Hinweise, wie es möglich ist, für sich zu sein und den Weg möglichst alleine zu machen. Oder eine App, die den Mitarbeitern der EKZ ermöglicht, ein Team für einen Iron Man aufzustellen. Die App koordiniert die Teilnehmer und ihr Training. Aber auch nach dem Event hat die App etwas zu bieten: eine Bildergalerie und eine Möglichkeit sich erneut anzumelden, denn nach dem Event ist vor dem Event...

Unsere Learnings

Bei der Planung waren wir uns nicht 100% sicher, ob man den User Centered Design Prozess so komprimiert durchlaufen kann. Und auch der Sprung von einer Aktivität (User Journey) zu einer Funktionalität (Papierskizze eines Screens der App), schien uns ziemlich gross. Aber es hat ganz hervorragend funktioniert. Der Grund ist, dass alle Teilnehmer bereit waren, sich auf das Experiment des nutzerzentrierten Denkens und Skizzierens von Hand einzulassen.

Es war schön zu beobachten, dass auch in Teams, die sich nicht täglich mit der Entwicklung digitaler Produkte beschäftigen, in kurzer Zeit Ideen entstehen, die in einfachen Skizzen zum Leben erweckt werden.

Ein Wunsch, den wir vorher nicht so realisiert haben, aber für unseren nächsten Workshop berücksichtigen werden, ist das Interesse an der Technologie: vielleicht werden wir in unserem nächsten Workshop eine Landschaft an gängigen Tools zeigen – neben Stift und Papier – wie man einerseits Prototypen aber auch Apps erstellen kann. Darüber werden wir nachdenken. Es war auch für uns ein sehr lehrreicher und spannender Abend! Denn wie David L. Rogers sagt, „Constant learning and the rapid iteration of products before and after their launch date, are becoming the norm.“ (vgl. David L Rogers, The Transformation Playbook). Ein herzliches Dankeschön an Herrn Hauser, der uns die Möglichkeit gegeben hat den Workshop bei der EKZ durchzuführen und zu lernen!

Entity Explorer, your trusty helper 🐕 Wed, 28 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100 When you are building complex Drupal websites you rely on entities, and they are often entities within entities, linked to entities, and so on.

When you need to debug data deep down in the persistence layer, be it in a moderation state, language revision or somewhere else because Drupal gives you an inconsistent response, where do you begin?

The debugger?

A great start is setting a breakpoint instead of just trying to observe the data structure as it passes through your call with kint(), print_r() or the like.

Xdebug is certainly a very good route to discover the state and properties of a specific entity. However, it is often insufficient to debug complex entity relationships in an efficient manner: Child entities might only be visible as their target ID or dynamic properties are empty because they have not been built yet.

The database?

Another place to look is the database, and that’s fine. It is of course the final say on the persistence layer but has significant disadvantages: writing joins by hand to discover the linkages of fields and tables is at best cumbersome and downright annoying when you are jumping from entity to entity. Also, reusing and managing such query snippets is not easy.

Entity API?

So your next step would likely be to write a custom script and make use of entityTypeManager. It can answer most complex queries and if you have done a little bit of Drupal 8 development you’ll likely already have come across it. Just select the desired storage, fetch a query, add your conditions and you can access the relevant revisions, their fields, and properties with ease. In some cases you might need to include some help from EntityFieldManager.

Drupal 7 hint: If you are stuck on a site you can’t migrate just yet, you can still make your life easier by using entity_metadata_wrapper() and EntityFieldQuery. You don’t have to live with stdClass objects and raw database queries.

However, you’re still writing a lot of common queries repeatedly by hand, when you just want something more efficient than digging through revisions in the UI for a particular problem.

Entity Explorer

Entity Explorer is a simple Drupal Console command which uses just a handful of entityTypeManager commands to build you an efficient output of an entity across languages and revisions including child elements, if needed:
$ drupal entity_explorer node 16287 47850 # Arguments: type, id, revision (optional)

The first example shows the translation revision of a node with the IDs of embedded entities. Use --all-fields to recursively show their details:

Check it out:

composer require drupal/entity_explorer:~1.0

My Learnings from Product Management Festival 2018 (Day 1) Tue, 27 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100 This know-how helps me a lot to build the right product for each of our customers and their end users, and not only to build it right by using Scrum.

I went to the Product Management Festival 2018 edition two weeks ago in order to learn about current the best practices in the field.

You find below the notes and learnings I took away.

Power of transparency

By Christian Sutherland-Wong, COO at Glassdoor

There are two things that stuck with me after the talk:

  1. Glassdoor wishes that every company would be more transparent about salaries. But internally, they don't openly share them. We made the move to full salary transparency here at Liip. I can't help to recommend any company to do so, as it only brings more fairness. On the short term, there are painful discussions to have. But it pays off on the long term, as people with salary issues get to understand why, and are then able to improve. Hopefully Glassdoor makes this move soon too.

  2. Christian also talked about monetization. As an entrepreneur myself, that's a topic that I love to discuss as it's so challenging to find the best ways to make money in a way that is win-win for the the entrepreneur and the client/user. As the saying goes: "Revenue is like oxygen for a startup. We don't live for it, but we need it to live".
    I disagree with him about one point: he explained that monetizing vanity was one key way to make money from their product at Glassdoor.
    My (potentially hasty) conclusion from this statement is that it sounds like the most economically viable solution. I'm challenging it because, as a CEO or founder, I would focus on finding better value for money strategies. I don't think exploiting such human nature trait foster better behaviors. I prefer having less paying customers, but that get real value from it. And there is for sure good value in Glassdoor who helps employees have the same information access as companies get when they interview you.

If you read these lines Christian, feel free to share your opinion in the comment section below.

"Power of transparency" speech by Glassdoor COO
"Power of transparency" speech by Glassdoor COO

Startup versus Enterprise Product Management

By Tom Leung, Director of PM at Youtube

This talk resonated a lot with me, as I feel that Liip and our self-organization model provides the best of both world: having your own startup, within the comfort of a company with 180 employees.

Here is what I learnt (or rehearsed) that is applicable to any products/projects you could have, independently of your company's size:

  • The only thing that matters is product-market fit and repeatable growth to sustain on the long run. And not your big media coverage, nor your invitation to talk at this big conference. These latter are only vanity metrics, that should come as results and not objectives in their own.
  • Would you use your product if you weren't in this company? If not, then you're probably building the wrong thing. Or at least it will be harder for you to stay motivated month after month.

From Tom's experience if you go for big corporate career:

  • You'll have to balance the "Just ship it and see what happens" with global scale impact (like you can't have YouTube go down every week)
  • You'll need to accept and cope with some (long) discussions to convince and rally people to follow you (aka. politics). Else you're better to stay at your startup.
  • You'll have to motivate teams and earn credibility — you don't have any CEO nor founder title to help you there
  • In certain "modern" corps like Google or Spotify, you can be lucky to have small cross-functional teams with a lot of flexibility
  • Startup veterans are like wild horses, and it's very hard for true entrepreneurs to go to big corporation. Often, after acquisitions, you see founders leaving. Not because they don't fit. Just because they need to move on and craft their next thing.

Regarding his startup's career:

  • Startup move fast. Every day. And that's a drug hard to give up once you sensed it.
  • When you're in a startup that grows, you quickly have to take care about management, marketing, and all sort of boring stuff. Make sure to keep the biggest chunk of your time dedicated to your product. Because that's what makes your company first. Easier said than done :)

Tom closed the talk with 3 skills a PM need to have:

  • Great judgment: being able to take imperfect infos and making a call. And being often right with such calls
  • Delivering results: "This product growth happened because it was this PM in the team"
  • Customer insights: go talk to customers. Go in the street. Go out of the building. Do whatever it takes but talk to real customers

This led me to this discussion with Tom after his session:

How a Product Manager can hone his judgment skills
How a Product Manager can hone his judgment skills

Viral loop

By John Koenig, Senior Product Manager Growth at Typeform

I mostly rehearsed knowledge, but it was still interesting to see how they apply it at Typeform.

One of the trick to ensure self-fueled growth of a product is to make use of viral loop.
A viral loop relies on the viral coefficient. Put simply it's the number of new users that an existing user generates. A 0.3 coef means that for each 10 users, you will get 3 new users. If you get above 1.0, then you get exponential growth.

John explained the viral loop model he uses at Typeform:

  1. Signup: creating a typeform account requires only 3 fields for lowest friction possible.
  2. Motivation: here comes their value proposition, which is sharing a Typeform form. To support this, they provide plenty of options so that you, as a customer, find a way to share your form and don't leave the platform there.
  3. Share: the nice fact is that sharing can be part of your product, like Typeform which goal is to be shared to collect responses. That surely help to develop your own viral coefficient.
  4. Impression: finally, when using the product, there are some tricks to leave your name around. Like the Intercom tool design that, even when customized is recognizable. Or Kickstarter, which you may use in 3-5 years when you suddenly get this idea of a new product to be backed up. At Typeform, their easily identifiable's user interaction and bottom logo play this role.

Once this loop is completed by one user, the new acquired customers fuel the viral loop themselves.

GIST planning

By Itamar Gilad, Product, Strategy and Growth Consultant, Ex-Google PM

GIST stands for Goals, Ideas, Steps, and Tasks.
It's a product framework imagined by Itamar while he was PM at Google. It mixes Lean Startup and Agile concept to align people from top management to delivery teams.

It aims to avoid the pattern consisting of: the strategy definition, then the roadmap building, then split into project plans, then the (Agile) execution done waterfallishly.

Below are the key elements of GIST planning:
You define goals using the OKR system for the next quarter. It's easy to adapt on the go, and is easily defined between stakeholders. And it's transferable/visible to anyone in the organization.

Below the "Goal" timeline, you then have to fill your tank with ideas to accomplish this objective. The more you fill the tank the better, knowing that only 1/3 of ideas are good at supporting objectives. Afterwards, you evaluate your ideas against a prioritization-by-evidence mechanism, like the ICE one (standing for Impact, Confidence, and Ease) popularized by Sean Ellis.

Once you found your next idea to validate, you go into a 10 weeks block of experiments as with the Lean Startup methodology.

Each experiment above can be seen as a Scrum sprint or can be detailed using Kanban. You can use whatever tool you're used to working with for this.

As you can see, compared to waterfall then Agile iterations, you get the whole system to iterate as a whole.
That's somehow how we operate at Liip, but a lot less formally. I will apply it on a small scale project to see how it works, and experiment with the pros and cons.

For a mental model's addict as I am, it was quite of an interesting session.

If you wanna learn more about GIST, I recommend you this reading.

GIST planning overview
GIST planning overview

The anatomy of influence power

By Stephanie Judd and Kara Davidson (both founders of Wolf and Heron)

The definition of influence is to "change how people think and act".
After this first sentence from Stephanie, my first reaction was "No thanks, I don't wanna become one of these manipulative people."
My second reaction was: "Well, I influence my kids every day for educational purpose. I also influence my clients to show them how Lean Startup, Agile, and self-organization principles are great. So it may not be that bad to learn more about this topic."

Stephanie and Kara then explained that infuence is made of two things: power (given to you, and situation agnostic), and pathway (which is situation specific, depending on which path you choose). They focused the rest of their talk on the power part, as it's situation-agnostic, so applicable to the biggest number of people in the room.

Power has 9 main sources:

  1. Expertise: what you know and can do
  2. Title: formal role and authority, as proxy of our influence
  3. Likeability: the first impression that other people have about you (posture, physical looking, sense of humor)
  4. Familiarity: your history and closeness with a specific person, gained through shared experiences
  5. Network: some tips are to focus on diversity, doing small favors to pay forward without expecting rewards
  6. Communication: be precise, be focused on the conversation (no smartphone on the table when talking to people)
  7. Reputation: what people say when you're not here. The best way to score point is honesty. With everybody.
  8. Resources: aggregate, organize, and redistribute it in your own way to add value to it (what I try to do with this blogpost, commenting and challenging ideas that I learnt)
  9. Grit: the desire and courage to act. It's an accelerant for all points above. Everyone has it. It's a muscle. The more you train it, the more you get good at it. Make sure you know your why first, then act on it. Relentlessly.

That's for another mental model of what power sources I can activate to better influence people.
As with any power sources, it's better and stronger when it's balanced. By the way, their company Wolf and Heron provides a "Personal Influence Diagnostic" on their website if you're interested to develop this part of yourself.

Ah, and don't forget, if you change how people think and act for bad reasons (including selfish ones): that's manipulation. You don't wanna do that.

Wolf and Heron's Personal Influence Diagnostic
Wolf and Heron's Personal Influence Diagnostic

Building for the next billion users

By Minal Mehta (Head of Product at YouTube, Emerging Markets)

The famous NBU as they now call it. The Next Billion Users. To be frank, I feared to only hear the message "We at Google will change every single part of the world". I was surprised by Minal's honesty when during the Q/A someone asked why big companies didn't ally to have a bigger impact. Her answer: "NBU is a market, and we're doing business there, not non-profit."

Moreover, what she shared was down-to-earth and aligned with my beliefs.
Before listing my takeaways, I will put below my notes about this big market that is India which is important to know for global corporates as this market rises strongly.

  • People in India are way more social than we are. So much that they share their own phones.
  • Data usage becomes more and more cheap, connecting a lot more people to the Internet.
  • Feature phones (think Nokia 3310 but with a decent web browser) are kings due to their price. That's one of the reason behind the launch of Android Go. Thus you need to think interfaces and interactions differently if you target this market.
  • As Mina confirmed with her research on the ground, Indian people are consuming content for the same matters as the rest of the world: messaging, getting info, and entertainment. And they expect to be treated as well regarding UX as Western mobile users.

Again, if you build a local product for Swiss people, that may not be interesting. On the other hand, if your digital product is useful worldwide, then you better start to plan your future holidays where one additional billion users will get access more and more to your tools. Nothing breaking new, but worth the reminder.

What resonated the most with me in this talk are the five lessons that Mina learnt on how to build great teams, and stay connected with them. This to overcome the project problems the best way possible.

Lesson #1: find people who believe in the product you're building. Additionaly, make sure they're comfortable with ambiguity, that they can manage their energy, and that they want to draft with their teammates

Lesson #2: rally your team around the user and the specific needs you're solving. This specific point is critical to me, and it proved to be a game changer every time I applied it, by asking our client to give us a tour of his company and activities, physically, before starting the project and with the entire Liip team.

Lesson #3: create a culture of psychological safety. Leave room for failure, without stress, and most importantly for being one-self. I could write hours about the impact of such culture as it makes us thrive both socially and economically at Liip.

Lesson #4: leave the building to connect with your team. We like to do project retrospectives at a coffee (which happens to be a bar too:)) near our Lausanne office. The place and its atmosphere impacts a lot the outcomes, positively. I recommend you to try it out.

Lesson #5: always celebrate your wins. Always. One simple way of how I organize it is by putting myself a calendar reminder 1 month before the planned launch to schedule a "Celebration lunch". That helps everyone to see the golive positively, not stressful. Obviously, you need to celebrate smaller wins along the way too.

Next Billion Users market overview by Minal Mehta
Next Billion Users market overview by Minal Mehta


That's it for my notes from day 1 at the Product Management Festival 2018.

To summarize, here are my key learnings:

  1. Monetization is a tough topic, even more if you wanna do it with an "added value" mindset.
  2. I'm grateful to work in one of the few Swiss companies that is self-organized, and offers the startup spirit (i.e. small teams, fast decision-making, almost no politics, and a safe-to-fail environment), all while having all advantages of a 180-employees company. The best of both world.
  3. The viral loop and coefficient are concepts that should be grasped by any Product Manager/Owner as they can tremendously help your product to be spread to your audience, and ensure a sustainable growth.
  4. GIST planning is a useful framework to iterate at all levels from vision, down to the daily operations, vs. only at the daily operational level.
  5. You can influence your own influence power. If done for the right purpose, it can only help you to have more and better impact on the world. There are 9 areas to introspect and make evolve. Wolf and Heron provides a guide on which ones to focus first for you.
  6. Building a cohesive team is important for when you face roadblockers while crafting a product. It will help to overcome them if you are feeling like one entity, and not separate individuals. There are down-to-earth ways to foster such teams. It requires energy upfront, but the investment is worth it on the long term.

I see you very soon for the summary of day 2!

I also take the opportunity of this first post to thank Liip to be so smart to let each of us choose our own further education path. Takeaways were important for me on both the personal and professional levels.

Were you at the PMF 2018? Do you agree with my comments? Any other insights I missed?

Secrets behind the launch of the new Compex Coach mobile app Fri, 16 Nov 2018 00:00:00 +0100 Last June, we started to create a second mobile application with Compex (brand part of the DJO Global group) who is leader in the muscle stimulation sport world, for both performance and recovery matters. The mobile app goal was to be the companion of Compex device users, in order to help them reach their objectives (performance, recovery, pain management, etc.) — feature that aren’t present on the physical hardware itself.

Helping hardware devices to last longer

At Liip, we love products that are made to last, and not to make users consume more. Obviously one has to run his business, but Compex vision with this mobile app really seduced us. For them, this app is a way to make the devices of their users last longer. Indeed, by putting the fast-moving part — that is the software — inside your smartphone instead of the device itself, they ensure an experience that is always evolving,while increasing the longevity of their device (that is well known for its strong quality in the sport market).
A lot of users are still very happy with their 2014 Compex equipment. And Compex supports them in doing so. We love that.

Compex Coach app listing the products of Compex

Choice of your device within the Compex range

Adding value to users

When Matteo Morbatti, International Product Director at DJO/Compex, brought us the project idea of replacing Compex paper user manuals by a mobile app, we were a bit skeptical. We didn’t want to just publish an app for the sake of having one.
He then continued his brief explaining that this was a real need of his customers, but that he wanted to make something more than just putting a PDF into a mobile app. He wanted to make the “What should I do now that I’ve bought my device” problem easier to solve via an app where we would guide the user from the day he unboxes his product.
That’s how we ended up to structure the digital tool in a way that it asks you “What is your objective?”, and then make use of all the user manual key infos at the point where the user most need it. That is, after setting his objective for the body zone he wants to reinforce or develop. “The right action at the right time”, as we like to describe in our mobile realm.
This way, people get real value with this accompaniment, versus the non-engaging paper version they had beforehand.

Features of the Compex Coach app

The right action and information, at the right time

"Compex had identified a need for these users and decided to respond by creating an app: Compex Coach. For this project, Compex turned to Liip and made no mistake. Having personally taken an active part in the development of this project, I can assure you that the collaboration throughout the project has been fruitful and motivating. Liip's project team is very professional and delivered this app on time and on budget." Matteo Morbatti, International Product Director at DJO Global/Compex

Marketing, done right

Compex also needs to do its business, and to work on converting clients into regular ones. One of the business objectives was to retrieve user’s email address in order to send them valuable infos on how to best use their product.
Instead of adding a mandatory email field to use the app, Compex went a step further and played it the win-win way: they offer in clear words two incentives that are a guarantee extension of 1 year, and a discount on consumables that you need as a regular Compex user.
Most importantly for us at Liip, these two incentives are options. If you refuse, you can still continue to use the app freely. And if you accept, you get something in exchange. We let the choice to the user in the end.

Reviews from the Play Store with a 4.5 rating

Google Play Store rating when you add real value to people lives

Next steps

One of our core philosophy at Liip is to “start small and iterate” in everything we do. Matteo and his Compex team have the same mindset. This allowed us to launch this new product in less than 3 months. Yes we could have built the cloud connection (to store your objectives online), or the always-up-to-date user manual instructions. But instead, we built the minimum viable solution and launched it. This allows us to learn as quickly as possible from the end users and to integrate their feedbacks with the next release when we will craft the cloud part of the solution.
A proof that this is one of the best way to build product is that Compex clients ratings are speaking by themselves (4.2/5 on the Apple AppStore, and 4.5/5 on the Google Play Store), and this “only” with a minimum viable solution. We can’t wait to delight them even more with all those cool new features!