My First Product

My first ever product was a website I put together to test out my HTML skills. This was in the mid 1990’s. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no plan. I just wanted to practice HTML.

The product was my personal page and I probably had five different versions of the same page. Every time I finished one design I would start my next design. This was not some product management playbook. It was just a curious teenager eager to keep learning. I didn’t realize it then but I was actually doing what many product builds do today.

So what next? The curiosity took me to registering a domain. I figured out how to register the domain but I wasn’t sure of the name. I went out and asked friends for their thoughts. It was the feedback that I heard that led me to picking the domain name. Keep in mind back then domains were not cheap and money for me was not plentiful. What domain name I bought was a big decision.

Decided on building a sports site and domain in hand I proceeded to next step…what exactly was I building and how would it be different than competitors?

What I wanted to do was present news and information on football(soccer). Specifically it was tailored towards a specific niche, Iranian, community. How I made it different was to focus on ease of navigation and knowing where you are on the site, this may sound like table stakes but in those days it was a delighter.

The really killer feature for me ended up eventually being the ability to put “video” of highlights on my site. Doing this also had engineering challenges. I figured out how to digitize video to MPEG with an encoder but even at the fastest dialup speeds available it would be slow to download. I had to get creative. The solution I ended up using was to build animated GIFs, yes animated GIFs are not a new thing.

It was a great experience. I eventually ended up selling jersey’s on the site and building a community. It came to an end eventually but not before I had learned how to build a product and I did that all by having simple conversations with the target segment.

Building a product is not easy. However, it is also not rocket science. It is all about identifying problems and a journey of understanding human psychology.