We have gone through a lot of iterations with how we structure teams, what our process looks like, how we do customer feedback, and all of that.

And we’re really at a point that we really like right now, and I want to break down what that looks like for us on the product thinking side.

We’re shipping a lot faster, we’re getting products into customers’ hands way quicker. We’ve had a much better, tighter feedback loop. So if you are thinking about how do you build a great product, how do you listen to customers, how do you actually build the things that your customers will rave about and will help you hit product/market fit — I’m going to break down what’s working for us here right now after a lot of tweaks.

This post will cover the five main principles that we use to help guide our thoughts around product and that we use as our guard rails for building great products.

1. Optimize for learning

When we’re trying to build something and ship something, we’re asking ourselves, how can we do this in a way and how can we choose features in a way that if we ship them, we will learn a lot? Basically, what could we learn that would completely change our direction?

And so when shipping features, we really want to learn, we want to find out something new every time. We want to find something unique from our customers and so we’re constantly trying to slice the pie when we think about our products and the features that we’re shipping.

We’ll say, “Okay, what can we ship that we learn?”

And then every time we do ship, we’re making sure that we gather insights, track the analytics and then take those learnings back into building our next feature. So we kind of have a continually tightening loop that helps us get better and better over time.

2. Be opinionated, yet flexible

We want to do the work of forming our opinions and building our product in an opinionated way. Now it’s nice for us because we’re our own customers and internally, we’re using our products a lot.

So we have a pretty tight feedback loop internally, and we’ve got opinions on what that should look like.

And so we want to go ahead and do the work for the customer and say, “There’s a lot of different ways to set this up. We think this is the best way and the recommended way.”

Yet we also want to be flexible. We want to play well with other tools, we want to give our customers the power to connect them with their own step, their own workflow, and their own visualizations. We want to be flexible and that’s something we’ve gotten a lot better at over time. Initially, we had this really, really tight box and we’d kind of talked about ourselves like we were Apple.

So we’re not going to give anybody any flexibility at all, we’re just going to tell them here’s the answer. I think that worked back in the day. But then there’s so much competition now that someone’s going to create something that’s opinionated yet flexible, and your customers will leave for them.

3. Surprise and delight your users

We’re always trying to figure out how do we create delight, how do we add the little surprises into our app and company to make our users smile. You might remember our mission is to make the internet delightfully human.

If I was thinking about how does that flow into the product — a lot of times delight is the thing you add on, the cherry on top — and so usually you move on to the next feature before you can actually add any delight.

We try to make sure that before a feature ships there’s some element of delight to it that’s going to make a customer smile and say, “Wow, that was really cool.”

4. Everyone talks to the end user

We used to have these product teams that were very very isolated from customers and the PM would talk to the customer.

They would write a bunch of tickets and everybody else would get the tickets later. There wouldn’t be any context or anything like that.

But now, we’re building products with the principle that everybody talks to the end user. Everybody has access to the analytics, everyone is actually interfacing with the customer — from marketing to =back-end engineers. And that has gone so so well since we’ve implemented that.

5. Focus on power users

We’re trying to find product-market fit with our second product, Experiences. We are working with just a very, very select group of companies, trying to go deep with them and say, “Okay, you’re a power user, let’s figure out exactly how to tell you absolutely love this product.”

That’s opposed to building-wide integrations and building features that allow more people to use it. It’s relatively thin as opposed to people that can use it really really deep and use all the functionality. So focus on power users, especially early on.

And there you have it — the 5 things we’re always thinking about as we build product.

What do you think of these five principles? Are there any principles that you use to guide your company’s product roadmap? Leave a comment below.