A metaphor matters

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The great products have metaphors.  These metaphors act like a spine, which frame and guide the user through critical flows, and potently make these products easy to understand, explain and remember:

  • Apple created your ‘desktop’ on your computer screen, where you can move items into a ‘trash-can’ and ‘folders’
  • Pinterest has ‘boards’ you create, applying  ‘pins’ to them by the action of ‘pinning.’
  • Twitter has ‘steams,’ with a ‘tweets’ flowing down them; you can also ‘retweet’ these ‘tweets’
  • Facebook has ‘friends’ which you conned to in the act of ‘friending’ – you can also ‘like’ what your friend do
  • Dropbox has its ‘Dropbox,’ where you ‘drop’ items into a ‘box’, so you can store and share them

When these products attain global scale, their metaphor become part of the fabric of society, as a cultural meme.

When architecting a product, take a page from the great ones, and use a metaphor throughout.

The Author

Early stage investor at Index Ventures

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