There’s been a flurry of interest in WordPress ever since it was announced that MovableType will be moving to a fee-based model. There already was a substantial amount of interest in WordPress. That’s because the people running it (mostly, from what I can see, Matt Mullenweg, and there’s a longer list at About WordPress) did quite a few things right. So here’s Lauren’s Product Management 101, using WordPress as the example.
This should be obvious, but it isn’t. All packages on sourceforge, freshmeat or wherever should include a 2 or 3-sentence description of what they do. This isn’t marketing, it’s simply telling people what they need to know. WordPress spends a page on this information, with screenshots, which is more than necessary.
It’s not just open source software that’s guilty of not saying what the product does. It’s amazing how often marketing departments in commercial software companies try to make the software engineers create a product they can market, instead of marketing the product the software engineers created.
If there’s an installation program, repeat what the product does in the splash screen. My IBM laptop came with CDs that I assumed were useful, but there was no documentation, the install programs didn’t say what was actually on the CD, and to make it all worse they couldn’t all be installed at once without wanting to uninstall each other. All installation programs should say what they are actually installing and how much room it might take.
Four basic rules. WordPress gets them right. Other products do too, even when they don’t have the same amount of support from a user community. Call it Product Management 101.