We need to get sh*t done.
The rallying motto of many founders. But people don’t just get things done, they experience deep emotions while using products. And if you ignore the emotional dimensions, you will build a sub-optimal product.
I want to focus on one such emotional drive today – the need to express your identity by the things you make. Many times, it can be just your own physical image and appearance. This makes the fashion industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
On the technology side, we know that iPhones come only in a few colors, so this drive leads to creation a huge industry just selling iPhone covers. People want to express themselves through their iPhone covers.
When having a conversation on mobiles, we want to show our uniqueness via stickers. iMessage has more than 23,000 sticker packs. Even writing a message is an act of self-expression.
Facebook, Twitter, Medium – all sites with user generated content – express this truth – people want to express themselves by making. People want to do it, even if they have to pay for it.
Look at Fortnite.
You can play it for free, but it makes revenue through in-app purchases, like clothing and dance moves. Yes, you read that right, clothing and dance moves.
If you have never heard of Fortnite, I humbly request you to stop whatever the heck you are doing right now and check out the first few minutes of this video.
Now, all this seems fine for consumer products and games. But would this work for enterprise products too, where people really have ‘jobs to be done’?
I submit that it would.
Exhibit One: Trello
Trello is a popular project management app which was acquired by Atlassian for… 435 Million Dollars. It aims to increase your productivity. Pretty non-consumerish, we can say. Yet, Trello Gold, the premium version gives you, among other things, the power to have your own backgrounds, and husky-stickers too. Meanwhile, ‘Unlimited Boards’ cost nothing.
Exhibit Two: Todoist
Todoist is another popular task management app, with millions of users. And it offers them 5 free themes, and 6 ‘premium’ ones.
Of course people pay for functionality, but people also pay for… colors.
People pay for colors in productivity software.
Let’s see one more.
Exhibit Three: Asana
Asana, the productivity app for teams, founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, has raised 213 Million dollars in funding, and has estimated valuation of 900 Million dollars. And ‘Custom Branding’ lies in the highest tier of their product.
All the three apps are literally used for ‘tasks to be done.’ and yet all provide the emotional appeal of self-expression as a premium feature.
Of course enterprise software designers and PMs need to do user research, ensure usability, deliver functionality. But if we focus only on that, we will miss out on providing our users a great experience, and leave potential revenue on the table.
Products are not just about jobs to be done, but about emotions to be experienced.
(Note: I expressed these ideas first in a tweetstorm – here.)