‘Value’ is a word that comes up a lot when we talk about products. But, more often than not, we’re talking about impact.

Every decision that a product team makes has to balance the impact of each feature against the effort of delivering it. But there’s another (less talked about) type of value that factors into every decision.

Today, I want to talk about the principles and ideals that drive a product team.

What are Product Principles?

In our last 60-second read, we talked about the importance of a North Star Metric (NSM) which aligns all of a company’s KPIs behind a focused idea of value.

In a similar vein, every decision a team makes can be checked against a set of agreed product principles. These principles are the constant ideals that remain as companies scale, team members change, and features iterate.

Unlike a NSM, though, product principles elicit emotion. We don’t typically think of digital products as having personality. But meaningful and memorable experiences do have personalities. And these traits come from the people behind them.

Everyone at Spotify understands that the more time a user spends listening to music, the more value the product has. This plays a key part in any decision. But it’s the principle that every interaction should be feel personal which led to a best-in-class music streaming experience.

Defining Your Product Principles

Perhaps the easiest way to discover a principle is experiencing a bad (competing) platform. Take one of Microsoft’s new, less-than-subtle app store principles:

“Windows 10 is an open platform. Unlike some other popular digital platforms, developers are free to choose how they distribute their apps.”

More and more users are looking for products that mirror their beliefs, values, and principles. What does yours stand for?