Picture of glass lanterns for sale

I messed up answering this question a few days ago, so I thought about it at leisure and wrote up a short answer.

A good product, in my opinion:

  • is something that solves one problem really (and I mean REALLY) well. Think of apps that you use on your phone, web products or physical products you use. Most serve just one primary purpose and you use it for just that.  
  • is one that is easy to use, fun and engaging or unique. It can be a combination of these but it should have one of these qualities. Let’s look at examples for this one. Ease of use: Apple’s iPhone, point and click cameras or Google search - there’s nothing that beats ease of use.  Fun and engaging: Foursquare, Facebook and that electric bat thingy that you use to swat flies. Unique: Shazam, Adobe Lightroom or the Roomba
  • appeals to people emotionally. There’s a relationship that a user forms with the product upon using it and sustains it over time. Think of products that have remained constant in your life over the last 10 years and figure out why you are emotionally attached to each of those products. 
  • offers a great customer experience. It’s not product or using of the product that makes consumers happy, but the feeling they take back from it. This is at the heart of word of mouth marketing and something that many products tend to ignore. 
  • is one that allows people extend it for other purposes. The classic example I can think of is the early scientific calculators by HP, TI and Casio that led to culture of hacking or repurposing. Or, MS Excel, which turns 30 soon, for creating an entire eco-system of plugins, developers and consumers that made the product indispensable to the business community.

What do you think makes a good product?