Leading product management for martindale.com over the past 2+ years and transforming the site into the web 2.0 world with the Connected community has been a challenging task, to say the least. Today, however, I had one of those days that many product managers (at least the good ones) would say is the most rewarding part of their jobs.
For those not as familiar with roles in the technology world, the job of a product manager is to discover a product that is valuable, useful, and feasible. This is according to Marty Cagan, a former HP, Netscape, and eBay product executive and the leading expert in Silicon Valley on product management. (Read a recent review of his book Inspired: How to Create Products that Customers Love by Alin Wagner-Lahmy.) Doing this successfully is easier said than done. A big mistake that product managers often make is assuming you can stick a bunch of people in a room to come up with a new product or design and call it a day. Wrong! No matter how smart these people are, there is no substitute for taking the product ideas out to real target users and watching their responses. And this is exactly what we went out and did today.
We are currently in the process of redesigning the martindale.com site and one of our main goals is to make the site easier to use and navigate. To get feedback on whether we are on the right track, a large New York City law firm graciously allowed us to come to their offices for the day to test a prototype of the new site with 10 different users. It was a long and exhausting day, but the value we got out of seeing how real users interact with our prototype was immeasurable.
Our work is not done, however. On the web, the work is never really done anyway. We constantly need to test and iterate our product ideas with you as part of our product development processes. So, if you are a professional in the legal industry, I personally invite each and every one of you to participate in a usability testing session. Help us design and shape the future of martindale.com!