Building customer-informed media products starts with defining a user problem

By Jodie Hopperton


Los Angeles, California, United States


Making the end-to-end customer experience outstanding is product’s main role.

Product is built around solving for user needs and wants, and the first step in any product process is to define a user problem. This is especially true at media companies. Whether we are improving current products or building new ones, our decisions need to be based on solid insights. 

The product journey involves these seven steps.
The product journey involves these seven steps.

I think we pretty much all agree on that. But how do we turn data sources into insights we can rely on? 

There are many different ways to mine data, both qualitative and quantitative. Rarely is this as straightforward as face value. When doing user interviews, how do you ensure that you glean the information you need without leading people? How do you make sure you are listening and responding to responses that encourage additional information, while leaving scope to go in a direction that is valuable but hadn’t been planned for? There is a reason research is a specialist subject — and that this often sits within marketing, not product. 

We are also aware of how valuable data is. And almost every organisation I am talking to is gathering and housing this data in vast databases. Again, the skill sets to interrogate the data are specialised. Large organisations have teams of data scientists. Not everyone can afford this and even those that can find bottlenecks as the mountain of requests can only be answered by the human capacity available.

So here are some questions I’ll be asking on this subject as part of the INMA Product Initiative:

  • Many companies have invested in audience analytics for the newsroom. To what extent can this be capitalised on for product?

  • To what extent should product managers have direct access to data to glean the insights they need? Do we need to make investments in training? And what about dashboards? 

  • What insights do we really need? How do we balance need to know with PhD level insights? 

  • How can we use data to develop multivariate testing? 

  • How do we balance “what users should know” and “what users want to know” when we look at personalisation and how consumers move around our products? 

  • How do we connect the digital product “dots” for insight on what consumers don’t even know they want?

  • How do we involve other departments in the data gathering process to create a democratised data set while truly making stakeholders partners in the product process?  

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About Jodie Hopperton

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