If you don’t understand how people think when they use your product, you can’t know how to build a better product.
In 2012, entrepreneur/writer/speaker Max Ogles began working with Nir Eyal, the influential author behind Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, as a part-time editor. Max eventually became a managing editor of Mr. Eyal’s website nirandfar.com, then decided to start his own website maxogles.com, where he currently writes about personal and product psychology.
Prior to our conversation, I had no idea what product psychology was. I asked Max to explain it. A lot. “Successful companies build products that affect the way people think,” he explains. “If you don’t understand how people think when they use your product, you can’t know how to build a better product.” Without knowing how to build a better product, a company has little chance of survival, making an understanding of product psychology essential to success.
“Software technology is unique in that so much of how people use it is based on a mental experience they have when using it,” Max says, then explains that understanding product psychology can enable companies to influence users’ mental experience and use products the way products are intended to be used.
Product psychology can also help companies identify needed changes. “Some of the best startup pivots occurred because people were using their products for a reason other than the product was created for,” Max says. When founders are able to recognize how people are using their products, they can change their products in a way that changes users’ desires and move the company in the same direction users want to be going.
Max explains that many companies are driven by the bottom line. And yeah, companies need money to survive. But to thrive, they also need to understand what is motivating users, what users have the ability to accomplish with the product, and what a company can do to improve functionality. “I’m advocating for a profitability and creating a user experience that is really helping people,” Max says. And if there’s anyone we should listen to, it’s Max. His site has nearly 4,000 subscribers and 500,000 monthly visitors. He’s even written a book.
Max heads to Oxford soon to complete an MBA program. But before he goes, we, the Beehive Startups community, will get to hear more from Max and his take on product psychology and why it matters for Utah companies. Thank goodness because I didn’t even come close to doing his thoughts justice.