As we blogged yesterday, MindManager has got it’s mojo back and there’s loads of new possibilities for the 2 million worldwide users opening up as a result. Not the least of these is in the realm of publishing and sharing of information in map form, which observant viewers will notice is very much our “schtick” ;-)).
However before we recommenced our quest to “boldly go where no information map cartographer has gone before“, we thought it would be a sensible idea to review everything we have done so far, but with our agile business hats on. For us this meant viewing all our output from an end users perspective honestly and objectively, as well as reviewing all the back-office work-flow processes involved and asking ourselves if we could work smarter.
Oh yes whilst not losing our passion for why we were doing all this in the first place in the process ….
The Product Review Part 1 – Our products from an end-user perspective
After looking at our products honestly and objectively from an end users perspective, we concluded that:-
- for a map publishing business, new maps were not added to the catalogue very often.
- our map titles did not always refelct the specific contents of the map accurately enough.
- the syntax of our map titles (ie. our product names) could be more systematic, and could also be more consistent so that the way in which one map differs from another, which can be very subtle, is more obvious to the user. For example maps may have the same content but be arranged in a different layout eg. a pseudo-geapgraphic (“ATLAS”) layout with branches that go in all directions from the central topic in a way that mimics a traditional geographic map, versus an alphabetical (“A-Z”) by name layout with branches that go to the right only of the central topic.
- the icons used to visually represent the maps in our catalogue do not always convey the content to potential users well.
- as with the titles, the product icons have not always been used consistently and so though some maps may be related in terms of their content and / or structure, you couldn’t always tell that from the product icons.
- not all maps have product videos and for those that do, sometimes the video is too long and too detailed (it takes a long time to make a short video!).
- we hadn’t added any new free maps to the catalogue for quite some time.
- users weren’t always informed of when new products were added to the store,
- users couldn’t always tell what maps were coming down the line. Sometimes maps had been added straight to the catalogue without apprearing in the Coming Soon category first.
- there was no public statement of our overall product strategy, explaining why we were choosing to do particular maps and not others, or what the framework was that the maps slotted into.
- the same goes for a product pricing strategy.
- probably a couple of other things, but lets not be too hard on ourselves…;-)
The Product Review Part 2 – Our products from a back-office perspective
We then looked at our products from our own, “back office” perspective, ie. everything we had to do to get a map product in our mapstore. We realised that:-
- our development hard drive is full of very useful maps that we have made over the years that have never been published in our store catalogue, even though they would be of great use to loads of other people.
- the reason that maps have not been published is that there are a lot of different tasks that need be done in order to turn an information map we have created for ourselves into a proper information product that can be added to our online mapstore and confidently used by anybody.
- individually (let alone all together) these tasks can take a lot longer to complete than it took to map the information in the first place! Product descriptions & metadata, product images, product demonstration / instruction videos, marketing copy (such as blog posts) etc., all require their own specific skill sets with their own specific “modes of operation”. If you are in full MindManager map making mode, capturing 1000’s of branches of information and “cartographising” it for optimum end-user knowledge transfer, you cannot easily just switch to planning / writing marketing copy, or wrestling with the back-end of your online shop software!.
- these tasks are also interdependant ie. they have to happen in a particular order. You can’t create a portfolio of compelling product images, or a detailed product description, or a compelling but concise product demo video, before the actual map is finished!
- there’s no point in just dusting all these maps off and rushing them onto “the shelves” without a coherent overall product strategy.
- our product strategy would have to be applied retrospectively to all the existing maps in the store before adding new products.
- all this is going to take quite a lot of man-hours so we need to buy another box of double-ended candles, and why not a few bottles of midnight oil as well 😉
Well those are the “highlights” of our honest and objective (brutal?), agile self-examination. However the point of this post is not to leave you hanging in despair, but to give you the background on the changes to come. The changes we are calling Knowledge Mappers 2.0.
And it’s all good!
Keep watching those skies people!
Next Time – Knowledge Mappers 2.0 – #2 In Summary: Clearer, More Systematic Map Titles & Icons, A Lot More Maps (Especially In Support Of MindManager Users) And More Of Them For Free! (Oh And A Better Web Presence :-))