Common Mistakes for First-Time Product Managers

Voltaire's chateau at Ferney-Voltaire, France.

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One of the co-founders of a startup should take ownership of the product management role. Product management encompasses everything from customer discovery, feature planning, roadmaps, QA, strategy, wireframes, documentation, and more. After building several commercial products personally, as well as helping other startups, I’ve seen a number of mistakes first-time product managers make repeatedly. Here are a few of those mistakes:

  • Overcomplicating the product (I still have a tendency to do this) knowing that Voltaire’s quote “the perfect is the enemy of good” holds true
  • Waiting too long to deploy changes out to the production server (startups should do continuous deployment or at least daily deployment otherwise it leaves room for a culture of monolithic development)
  • Inconsistent capitalization in button and link labeling (e.g. “Edit user” in some places but “Edit Object” in others)
  • Not appreciating that window dressing and subtle niceties in a UI contribute toward the user experience
  • Creating complicated interfaces that don’t employ progressive disclosure of advanced functionality

My recommendation is for first-time product managers to pick up a book like Designing Interfaces and really be a student of the art of building a great product.

What else? What are some other common mistakes for first-time product managers?

4 thoughts on “Common Mistakes for First-Time Product Managers

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