If the first version of your product is complex and hard for users to understand, you’re doing something wrong. The first versions of successful innovative products are usually simple and intuitive.

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Today’s best-known products started by solving one specific problem for a specific segment of users.

  • Facebook: just a directory of students at Harvard.
  • Amazon: buying books online.
  • Uber: a luxury car on demand in SF.

If the first version resonates with users, the product evolves based on feedback.

Only then—step by step, by serving the growing needs of customers, trying to expand the target audience, and moving upmarket—the product becomes more complex.

That kind of complexity doesn’t come from intentional design. It comes from adding new simple things which create more and more conflicts over time at different levels.

When an incumbent product becomes too complex, an opportunity for new products opens. The way these products create value is by being simple and intuitive, by focusing on segments of users with basic needs who have been overserved.

This might be counterintuitive. Many people think that you win by copying what the competitors offer and adding more features. However, that’s not the best way to compete with an incumbent.

Does the first version of your product look “tricky” or is it hard to explain? Take a step back. Reconsider.

Look for the smallest task your product successfully performs. Think of ways to make it simpler.

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