Archive for October 2012

Are you building your Portal Application / Website from the right DNA?

Web DNA: Design Needs Architecture

Web DNA: Design Needs Architecture


Effective sites that become popular have at least one thing in common.  They are built up from the right DNA that is focused on your customers/ users.  And the specific customers / users and the particular needs you aim to satisfy are determined by your business goals and marketing strategy.

Getting it done right the first time is a rare and great achievement.  You may even get results that exceed your initial expectations / targets.  However, the goal (for most ongoing enterprises / initiatives!) is to remain relevant and useful to your target audience as their needs evolve along with ongoing changes to other relevant external factors e.g. environmental parameters such as social / economic trends and competitive moves; or internal changes such as a refinement of your marketing strategy (targeting) from a better understanding of customer segmentation & profitability.

Thus a more complete and accurate picture would be as shown below:

Web DNA driven Site Innovation ReDesign Development

Web DNA driven Site Innovation + ReDesign + Development


Highlighting the cyclical nature of

  • identifying improvements & innovations (minor to major, incremental changes to radical redesigns)
    • based on an ongoing or periodic monitoring of your market environment (competitors, customers, trends) and customer / user feedback
  • making architecture and design choices / decisions, and
  • implementing the prioritized improvements / redesigns.

A lot of published literature and discussions focus on the smaller iterative cycle that falls mostly within the Development, Testing & Launch box in the above diagram – using the agile approach.  Contemporary development technologies enable this quick-prototyping-refinement-launch approach, and it is valuable in refining the user interaction / user experience.

However, this focus and excitement on better construction techniques can detract from the much-needed focus on the larger iterative cycle shown above (larger in scope and impact).  The one that can help identify opportunities and issues at a broader level.  E.g. while the former can help with serving the needs of your users in the most efficient and user-friendly way, the latter can bring up valuable insights e.g. are you targeting the right users and the right set of needs (given their priority in the minds of users as well as your business goals).

Business & Web Innovation / ReDesign / Product Management starts with the Big Picture



A combination of perspectives & competencies is invaluable for making —

  • high-level assessments ( e.g. user needs and market opportunities ),
  • identifying innovations and refinements ( incremental to radical ),
  • creating blueprints ( high-level architecture / roadmaps ) and plans

— that increase the quality, effectiveness and ROI of your programs and projects.

A cross-functional perspective (and multi-disciplinary skillset) – cultivated across a variety of projects and industries, along with sharp & creative thinking / analysis skills – are essential ingredients for innovative and successful product management.

Especially when we are talking about true or strategic Product Management versus operational Product Management (or what I would prefer to call Production Management).  The latter, while important in its own right, requires a different skill set focused on operational details and task / resource management.  However, for a number of reasons, it seems that Production Management is increasingly conflated with Product Management … as can be seen in countless Silicon Valley / software company job descriptions as well as contemporary writings & discussions. More on that in a later post!