Applying Amazon’s “working backward” approach to product

Recently two things happened during my quarantine at home, amongst all the crazy stuff we are all experiencing these days: First, I realized that I use Telegram Saved Messages feature on my iPhone a lot in order to store interesting articles and inspiring content to consume it later (most of the time on a different device) And second, I read Justin Bariso article about Amazon secret weapon known as “Working Backwards” and how they approach new initiatives internally So I started thinking about the way I was collecting content through Telegram, my current flow, what worked well, and what didn’t. So many things, so little time Whenever I’m browsing something on my phone or computer (twitter feed, Instagram, news, articles shared on slack by friends and colleagues) I either read it straight away or save it for later. When I save something for later, I use Telegram, which has a dedicated feature where you can store all kinds of content within a private chat. Although this feature is amazing, mostly because it allows me to switch from one device to another without any hiccups, I noticed that it is lacking some organization and structure. As the amount of content I save there increased quite a lot during this lockdown, it started to be harder and harder to keep using it. “Saved Messages is great, it allows you to store any kind of content from any device and consume it whenever you want, but as soon as the number of content increases, it starts lacking organization and structure” The first reflex was thinking about how I could improve the experience by sketching out some ideas and design a possible solution. But then I thought, what if this time I go backward and try to apply the Amazon approach and see what will come out. “Working backward”, the Amazon approach Working backward begins by “[trying] to work backward from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product and trying to bolt customers onto it.” For a new initiative, at Amazon, the process begins with a formidable task: A product manager must write an internal press release announcing a finished product. “Internal press releases are centered around the customer problem, how current solutions fail, and how the new product will blow away existing solutions. If the benefits listed don’t sound very exciting to customers, then perhaps they’re not (and shouldn’t be built).” — Ian McAllister Instead of starting by sketching the ideas, I opened Craft and created a Press Release for every idea I had that I thought could improve Telegram Saved Messages existing feature. Once the press release was done, I moved to my notebook and then Figma in order to design the experience that came out of it and, at the very end, I thought that writing some sort of product spec could be interesting too (⚠️ I’m not a PM, so I guess that those aren’t real product spec, but still something useful when trying to communicate an idea to a team). Using that approach helped to sort my ideas and focus towards two main directions: how to improve the way Saved Messages works in Telegram by using existing features; how to transform Saved Messages into something even more powerful in order to unlock new ways of using Telegram; That’s how I came up with Telegram Lists and Telegram Bookmarks. From Saved Messages to Lists Organize your saved messages in customizable lists.Telegram Lists (Press Release)Telegram Lists allow you to organize your saved messages into dedicated lists and easily access them whenever you need them. SummaryWith Telegram Lists, you’ll be able to create mood boards, collections, read later lists, etc. by simply adding a #hashtag whenever you’re saving a message into Telegram.Telegram Lists let unlock new ways of boosting productivity, inspiration, and engagement for Telegram users. ProblemToday, all Saved Messages are treated the same way and it’s hard to find the information you previously saved when you need it. SolutionThe idea is to let users create and organize their saved messages by grouping them into customizable lists displayed inside the Saved Messages chat. “Whenever I’m checking twitter, instagram or medium on my phone for new learnings and inspiration, I always save interesting articles and concepts to my Telegram Saved Messages to check them later (most of the time on my computer). When I go back to it, I’d like to be able to have them organized in order to make it easy for me to consume them.” — Fab How to get startedBy using existing concepts already available in Telegram, like: Folders Searchable hashtags Share with saved messages a user can create a new list by simply adding a #hashtag while saving a certain content (message, link, photo, audio, video) to his Saved Messages. Those lists are displayed as tabs inside the Saved Messages chat and users can edit their content by simply editing a message and then using a different tag, or even remove it. In order to edit or remove a list, users can use the same pattern that already exist

Applying Amazon’s “working backward” approach to product
Recently two things happened during my quarantine at home, amongst all the crazy stuff we are all experiencing these days: First, I realized that I use Telegram Saved Messages feature on my iPhone a lot in order to store interesting articles and inspiring content to consume it later (most of the time on a different device) And second, I read Justin Bariso article about Amazon secret weapon known as “Working Backwards” and how they approach new initiatives internally So I started thinking about the way I was collecting content through Telegram, my current flow, what worked well, and what didn’t. So many things, so little time Whenever I’m browsing something on my phone or computer (twitter feed, Instagram, news, articles shared on slack by friends and colleagues) I either read it straight away or save it for later. When I save something for later, I use Telegram, which has a dedicated feature where you can store all kinds of content within a private chat. Although this feature is amazing, mostly because it allows me to switch from one device to another without any hiccups, I noticed that it is lacking some organization and structure. As the amount of content I save there increased quite a lot during this lockdown, it started to be harder and harder to keep using it. “Saved Messages is great, it allows you to store any kind of content from any device and consume it whenever you want, but as soon as the number of content increases, it starts lacking organization and structure” The first reflex was thinking about how I could improve the experience by sketching out some ideas and design a possible solution. But then I thought, what if this time I go backward and try to apply the Amazon approach and see what will come out. “Working backward”, the Amazon approach Working backward begins by “[trying] to work backward from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product and trying to bolt customers onto it.” For a new initiative, at Amazon, the process begins with a formidable task: A product manager must write an internal press release announcing a finished product. “Internal press releases are centered around the customer problem, how current solutions fail, and how the new product will blow away existing solutions. If the benefits listed don’t sound very exciting to customers, then perhaps they’re not (and shouldn’t be built).” — Ian McAllister Instead of starting by sketching the ideas, I opened Craft and created a Press Release for every idea I had that I thought could improve Telegram Saved Messages existing feature. Once the press release was done, I moved to my notebook and then Figma in order to design the experience that came out of it and, at the very end, I thought that writing some sort of product spec could be interesting too (⚠️ I’m not a PM, so I guess that those aren’t real product spec, but still something useful when trying to communicate an idea to a team). Using that approach helped to sort my ideas and focus towards two main directions: how to improve the way Saved Messages works in Telegram by using existing features; how to transform Saved Messages into something even more powerful in order to unlock new ways of using Telegram; That’s how I came up with Telegram Lists and Telegram Bookmarks. From Saved Messages to Lists Organize your saved messages in customizable lists.Telegram Lists (Press Release)Telegram Lists allow you to organize your saved messages into dedicated lists and easily access them whenever you need them. SummaryWith Telegram Lists, you’ll be able to create mood boards, collections, read later lists, etc. by simply adding a #hashtag whenever you’re saving a message into Telegram.Telegram Lists let unlock new ways of boosting productivity, inspiration, and engagement for Telegram users. ProblemToday, all Saved Messages are treated the same way and it’s hard to find the information you previously saved when you need it. SolutionThe idea is to let users create and organize their saved messages by grouping them into customizable lists displayed inside the Saved Messages chat. “Whenever I’m checking twitter, instagram or medium on my phone for new learnings and inspiration, I always save interesting articles and concepts to my Telegram Saved Messages to check them later (most of the time on my computer). When I go back to it, I’d like to be able to have them organized in order to make it easy for me to consume them.” — Fab How to get startedBy using existing concepts already available in Telegram, like: Folders Searchable hashtags Share with saved messages a user can create a new list by simply adding a #hashtag while saving a certain content (message, link, photo, audio, video) to his Saved Messages. Those lists are displayed as tabs inside the Saved Messages chat and users can edit their content by simply editing a message and then using a different tag, or even remove it. In order to edit or remove a list, users can use the same pattern that already exists today for chat folders (long press on tab). “My Saved Messages are now organized and easy to consume. Telegram Lists allows me to create mood boards, read later lists, collections of great designs I find on the internet, and all the funny jokes my friends send me.” — A happy customer Closing and call to actionWith Saved Messages organized by lists, Telegram users are able to group their important messages, create inspiring collections, plan what to read, and easily find what they saved across different apps and devices.Telegram Lists uses patterns and functionalities already available within the app and it empowers its users by providing an organized and easy to consume centralized place for everything you considered worth saving and keep. The sharing panel will allow users to create new lists to store their content and easily find it later.By long-pressing on a tab, users will be able to edit a list and its content.Please have a look at the Product Spec and the Prototype to know more about the new Telegram Lists feature. From Lists to Bookmarks Your content saved into a dedicated section called Bookmarks.Telegram Bookmarks (Press Release)Telegram Bookmarks provide a central place where Telegram users can collect all their interesting content find across the web and being able to review, share, and consume them. SummaryInside Telegram Bookmarks section you will find all the content you saved for later and that you wanted to keep. You’ll be able to group bookmarks and create dedicated collections, which will allow you to create stuff like mood boards, inspiration boards, read later lists, etc. Telegram Bookmarks will let people rely on Telegram whenever they want to save something for later and being able to boost their productivity, inspiration, and engagement while working or studying. ProblemToday, the only place to store content inside Telegram is Saved Messages chat where messages are treated all the same way and it’s hard to find the information you need when you need it. SolutionThe idea is to let users create and organize their saved content (messages, links, photos, videos, audio) by grouping them into bookmarks displayed inside a dedicated section. “Whenever I’m browsing stuff on my phone for new learnings, information, and inspiration, I always save interesting articles and concepts into my Telegram Saved Messages to check them later. When I go back to it on my computer or iPad, I’d like to be able to have them organized in order to make it easy for me to consume such content.” — Fab How to get startedA user can create a new Bookmark by simply tapping on the dedicated icon inside the new bookmark section available inside the bottom navigation bar. He can add content to it by selecting a bookmark while sharing content from the sharing panel. He could even create a new bookmark directly from the sharing panel by adding a #hashtag as a comment. Telegram will create the new bookmark and add that content to it. Bookmarks, like chats, can be grouped together into Collections. Collections are displayed as tabs inside the Bookmarks section and they are customizable the same way as chats and folders today. In order to edit or remove a list, users can use the same pattern that already exists today for chat folders (long press on tab). “My Telegram Bookmarks are great! Telegram is now my main app for content storing, inspiration and source of learnings thanks to the awesome content I have saved into it.” — A happy customer Closing and call to actionWith Bookmarks, Telegram users are able to group their important messages, create inspiring collections, plan what to read, and easily find what they saved across different apps and devices. Telegram Bookmarks uses patterns already available within the app and it empowers its users by providing an organized and easy to consume centralized place for everything you considered worth saving and keep. Users will be able to save content into a new dedicated section called Bookmarks.Bookmarks can be grouped into Collections in order to make it even easier to organize your content.Please have a look at the Product Spec and the Prototype to know more about the new Telegram Bookmarks feature. Some considerations The goal of this case study was to explore a new framework (Amazon working backward product technic) while working on a new initiative and improve an existing product I like and that I use a lot. I think that Telegram Lists is a solution worth a test to see if Telegram users can benefit from something that allows them to save content across platforms in an organized way into a centralized place, compared to what they have today. Telegram Bookmarks can be seen as an evolution of lists in a scenario where Telegram users showed high engagement with lists feature. A sort of long term vision where storing and sharing content will be placed at the core of the experience making Telegram expands into new scopes. Thanks for reading, don’t hesitate to comment if anything is not clear and if you enjoyed it, please ???? and share it ???? Applying Amazon’s “working backward” approach to product was originally published in UX Collective on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.