The art of experiments
Issue 105: The quantitative side of aspects of craft in product
Gmail's re-design is a recent discussion, and people have opinions. It doesn’t bother me when people critique and have constructive criticism. What bothers me are hasty generalizations and assumptions made. Perhaps it’s someone saying Google has reverted to Marissa Mayer's 41 shades of blue phase and A/B testing everything. The notion of experimentation gets someone to always say, "Steve Jobs would never research and test. Everything was based on intuition." First, you're not Steve Jobs. Second, it’s an exaggeration. The recent changes on the MacBook Pro that reverted the TouchBar and Butterfly keyboard are examples of iterating on customer insights. Not only does user research often get this criticism, quantitative data experiences this even more—as if only people with MBAs care about data.
Binary thinking stunts innovation. Data and intuition are complementary, and should not be put up against each other. Quantitative data can foster creativity. The new Gmail UI isn't perfect, and this isn't a critique of it specifically, but rather an opportune time to discuss experimentation and testing. As Ran Liu says, growth design is good product design. The practice of growth is dear to my heart, and it typically gets a bad rep. Though there are certainly people who mispractice it, growth is not about getting people hooked. It’s helping guide people and teaching them to get the maximum value from your product. As a result, it grows your business. It’s one of the reasons our product pillar that has growth teams at Webflow is called Lifecycle.
Principles will trump any method
Having strong principles will be the foundation of how you do anything, and no process or method will ever supersede it. It’s not about what you do, but how you do it. Business and revenue are not dirty words, though can be if you don’t practice them in a good way. One of our core behaviors at Webflow is "earn customer trust", something we take seriously and foster as a continuous journey. The duality of caring about the customer and business can live harmoniously as a flywheel where everyone mutually gains value, yet they are often put at odds with one another. If you believe in the principle that the approach to improve the business is through customer satisfaction and the value they get from the product, then it's a very different approach to growth at all costs.
Craft is mixed-methods
The early part of my career was in an area where things were literally pixel-perfect for a 320x480 iPhone. Attention to detail and quality is essential in instilling trust. It’s important to also remember that overall craft is not only the visual interface but how the product experience is built. For example, performance is an invisible quality of craft. Measuring if someone has the ability to accomplish a task or how the system responds to it are ways to ensure the utmost quality is held. Growth is not taking away intuition and craft, it complements them.
Bringing method to the magic
One of my favorite aspects of building software is that it combines my two loves: art and science. A method is bringing objectivity to subjective areas. It builds consistency in how you make decisions. I am grateful for my experiences working on (and now leading) growth teams. It’s amazing what happens when you take things perceived on opposite sides of the spectrum (data and intuition) and infuse them together.
Get started with growth
Tweet of the week
Apply to speak at Webflow Conf - the call for speakers will close on August 16, 2022 at 11:59pm PT!
Harrison Wheeler launched the Technically Speaking YouTube channel. Subscribe and smash that bell
Priyank Shah’s workspace - really love this setup!
I make A LOT of small pushes to the repo so watching it might be annoying!