Note:

  • This product critique format is not for interviews. I generally spend an hour playing around with the app and go far deeper. you won’t be given more than 20 mins in an interview to do a product critique.
  • Julie Zhuo wrote a nice post on how to do a product critique. Check it out.
  • I don’t follow any structure, but I try to cover a few things which I will mention below.
  • I do this critique from a PM POV. So it is not just about how the interface looks or the micro-interactions. I also spend a lot of time thinking about distribution strategies, positioning, copy, metrics, and a bunch of other things.
  • I generally try to go out of my comfort zone and choose an app I am not familiar with to do a critique. It helps me look at it from a fresh perspective.

I ask the following questions while doing the critique:

Strategy, Distribution, and Market

  • If I was a PM for the product how would I would grow it?
  • What is the GTM of this product?
  • How big is the market?
  • Is the app a leader in this category?

Playstore

  • Is the name unique? Is it memorable?
  • What is written in the About section? Is it too generic? Do they talk about value prop in terms of JTBD?
  • Have they stuffed a bunch of keywords in place of a proper name?
  • How do the screenshots look?
  • What are metrics shown on the Playstore page?
  • Do I see it running ads on its competitor pages?
  • What have they done with the Description section? Have they done a bunch of keyword stuffing? Written the description using reviews of their users to show social proof?
  • How is the page different from its competitors?

Positioning

  • What do I think about its positioning?
  • Is there a crisp and consistent description of the product across their Playstore page as well as the app?
  • What is A, B, C but not D of this product? A, B, and C are things they say they do and D is something they say they don’t? This is a framework I learned from Shaan Puri.

Onboarding

  • Have they made the onboarding frictionless or are there too many steps?
  • Can you skip the onboarding process?
  • Is sign up mandatory?
  • What is asked in the onboarding process?
  • How quickly can I get to the meat of the product? Get gratification by completing the task I hired it for? Measure both by the number of steps as well as time taken.
  • What is the developer optimizing for in the signup flow?
  • How is copy tied to its positioning? I am looking for consistency in positioning and their copy in the product.
  • What are the decisions taken during onboarding that might impact FTUE?
  • If there is an onboarding carousel, are they talking about features or jobs?

FTUE

  • How does the app feel? What emotions does it raise in me?
  • Is the FTUW underwhelming? Does it meet my expectations?
  • If I have to describe this app to others how will I do that? Will I use the same things the developer highlighted n the Playstore page/app?
  • Is the experience a straight line?
  • What is supernormal about it?
  • If I was a PM designing this FTUE what data would I collect to personalize the experience?
  • What are the hypotheses I have which I would test as a PM?

JTBD

  • What are the main jobs a user might have hired this product for?
  • What does the JTBD forces diagram look like for this app?

Defensibility

  • What is the moat?
  • How is the app increasing the switching cost?
  • How is it decreasing switching cost if I am thinking of switching over from other apps?

Building trust and reliability

  • What are the trust indicators in the product?
  • How is the app reducing Customer anxiety?
  • Is there any social proof?
  • How does the user know it is a legit business?

Product and Design

  • What are the interactions I like?
  • What do I hate?
  • Do I like the information architecture?
  • What are the things I can copy in my own products?
  • Is there some interactions, some visual elements which do not map to my understanding of Design? Anything which does not follow industry standards that other apps follow?
  • Does the product design align with the frameworks I have learned over years? Anything I learned which I can turn into new frameworks?
  • Now that I have used the product, what are the metrics I think the PM is measuring?
  • What do I think the north star of this product is?
  • What are the experiments I would run?
  • Does the app experience tie back to what was promised in the Playstore?

Relevant links: Growth & UX case studies, UX teardowns

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