Best resources (books, guides and blogs) for your first product

As an engineer or a designer, you get most projects already planned out. Someone else decided what the solution will be. You just receive the requirements and implement. You are building a product, but you don’t see the full complexity behind it.

But if you’re building your own app, or join a small startup, you’ll realize solving a real problem is hard. There are no straightforward tradeoffs as in tech and there are no rule books as in design. And it’s not just coming up with a solution. The final product needs to grow and generate sustainable revenue to survive.


Mário, who will be our intern next year, asked where could he learn more about Product. So we’ve compiled here a selection of resources.

Product spans many areas: tech, business, marketing, design… And it goes against what your learn in University. It’s iterative, counter-intuitive, and designed to fail-fast. Its complexity also varies, whether you’re working on a new product or on a big product company with a huge team.

The resources here focus on building a new product, much like the challenges a startup faces.

What to build

It’s common to start with a concrete idea of what to build. But you should take a step back to check if the problem is worth solving and if your solution is effective. Customer Development is the most popular strategy. To read more about it:

Monetize

Specifically on business models, word is you shouldn’t invent new business models. Instead, you should replicate existing ones. For inspiration, The Art of Profitability covers 23 different business models.

The Business Model Canvas became a popular way of describing and analysing business models. Read the Business Model Generation book to know more about the proccess.

Iterate

Once you’re confident with a direction, with Design Sprints you can quickly iterate and validate concrete solutions. Created by the design team at Google Ventures, this process has spread to the whole industry. You have the official book Sprint, a free course on Udacity, or Thoughbot’s adaptation together with materials.

Launch

Much can be said about marketing and growing a product. There are some good resources on the blogs section below. But the main takeaway is to Don’t launch: avoid the big marketing push until you’re sure you nailed it.

Track results

As you start getting users, you need to look at your metrics. They’ll tell you if you are on the right path. Startup Metrics for Pirates is the default guide (a short and a long video on the same topic).

More

Here are some great blogs to follow:

And I asked on Twitter for suggestions: