Why you need a mantra

My co-founder (Sean) and I spent lots of time designing MyPunchbowl.com well before we hired any software engineers. It’s sometimes amusing to think about how much time we spent in front of the whiteboard– but we believe that products should be designed first, then implemented. Of course there is a balance. You can’t design every detail about a feature before you begin implementation. Many times the nuances about a particular feature only are clear when you have a chance to actually use it. So how do you guide your decision-making as you are tweaking a feature?

For us, we developed an internal mantra that helps guide our decision-making. It’s a mantra that I remind the team of often. It’s an important guiding principle. Our mantra is simply this: Help the host look good.

This may seem like an easy mantra to implement, but it’s not. As we make design decisions, we constantly have to make tradeoffs between what is better for guests and what is better for hosts. Using this mantra, these decisions become easier. Here’s an example: our RSVP options are all based on helping the host look good. There are other ways to implement these RSVP features that might be better for guests, but we believe that our role at MyPunchbowl.com is to help hosts look good. This mantra makes hard design decisions much easier.

It’s great when we get validation from real customers. Chris from Idaho recently wrote to us: “We used MyPunchbowl for our first family reunion in 20+ years and everyone, I mean everyone, was totally satisfied with the MyPunchbowl invitation. Our reunion was in Seattle (and I’m in Idaho) and because of your site/service it made me look so GOOD! Thanks for making it so Fabulous! Chris from Middleton Idaho.”

I’m convinced that all great products have mantras.

What’s your product’s mantra?

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