I was asked once in a job interview what my favorite digital products were. I thought it was a great question and have asked it myself in subsequent interviews because it can prove insightful. So here’s a list of applications that I use frequently and inspire me from a product perspective.
In my opinion, Excel is the matriarch of all applications. It effortlessly spans the most simple of use cases (write a lists in columns, add two numbers) to incredible levels of complexity (polynomial regression and Monte Carlo simulations); and lot and lots of cool things in between the two.
Many times in life I’ve told co-workers and friends, if you are ever doing something in Excel and you think to yourself, “there must be faster way to do this”, there is. And the solution is likely a Google search away.
You may not be aware, but some people even use Excel to create art of high and low quality!
From a product perspective, few applications can claim the user base, usage scenarios, and historical relevance of Excel. This plus my personal affinity for it, makes it one of my favorite digital products.
Looking at the application usage on my phone, Reddit is easily the app I use the most. If you are not familiar,
“Reddit is a network of communities where people can dive into their interests, hobbies and passions. There’s a community for whatever you’re interested in.”Source
I first discovered Reddit many years ago while Googling particular technical issues or doing research on home electronic purchases. It started slowly like that, then came the memes, and finally I realized this was a place that had active, robust communities for any interest common or obscure.
Whether you are into knitting, paper airplanes, Shakespeare, Formula 1, hummingbirds, or underwater photography Reddit can drop you into a community of thousands of like-minded people. And frankly, that list of topics is just the tip of a massive iceberg.
Of course there are similar community-social platforms across the web, but there’s something different about Reddit and Redditors. Maybe it’s the size of the network, the karma (internet points), the anonymity, the simplicity of the interface – or maybe it’s all those things together.
Reddit is one of my favorite apps for learning/dabbling in new topics of interest as well as staying connected and inspired in interests I’ve had for a long time. I use it almost every day and in fact, I get most of my news there. Reddit does a great job of leveraging the community to have the cream rise to the top, and do so quickly.
On a product level, they’ve done something really incredible to connect humans of similar interests across the globe, facilitate discussion, and have some fun along the way.
If you were unaware, the business of Reddit is also pretty strong. As of October 2022, it was reported as having 50 million unique daily users and discussion of an IPO is a active topic.
In a list like this, some product managers might spend paragraphs on the beauty and design aesthetic of given apps. But in mine, utility is also center stage.
1Password is used to securely store and share (if desired) passwords, documents, and other digital artifacts across devices and chosen plan members (family or friends). Super boring right? Not for me.
If you can answer “yes” to any of the below, you NEED to be using a password manager.
- Are you using the same password across multiple sites/applications?
- Are you using simple passwords like “frogger” or “superman10”
- Are you frequently requesting password resets because you can’t remember your password
- Are you repeatedly giving the same family members passwords for shared cable, streaming, and shopping services?
I don’t want this post to be an advertisement for 1Password, but it and most other password managers will make these security problems and inconveniences a thing of the past. I can tell you honestly, my passwords are so varied and secure I literally don’t know what most of them are.
After some research, I went with 1Password based on its price, sharing features, and ease-of-use. And now given the critical role it plays in my family, I’m probably a paying customer for life. There’s few products I can honestly say that about.
While there’s always a learning curve associated with adopting a password manager, in my opinion 1Password’s product team does a great job balancing being everywhere (literally any time a password is required on any device) and not adding too much overhead and presence for a utility.
Like many, I enjoy window shopping for houses online. It’s interesting to see what’s for sale around me, check what my house might be worth, or scroll what’s for sale in sunny places I dream of retiring to. For this, Redfin is my go-to app.
From a product perspective what amazes me about Redfin is its effortless, yet feature rich functionality. Few applications provide so much information and so many capabilities on one screen, or just a tap or flick away.
Because I’m a fan, I’ve also had the experience of selling a house through Redfin. As a confessed data fan, I loved seeing the metrics on how many people had viewed my home on the app or in email, favorited it, toured it, etc.
Additionally, working with our agent to share, sign, and store the bevvy of documents was really useful. At tax time, I knew right where to go for my records.
In this regard, Redfin is also an interesting product because it truly spans the digital and physical worlds. It’s not just an app to look at houses, it will literally guide you through the purchase or sale of arguably your most important real world asset. Personally, I’m impressed with the scope of the business and how they represent that so fluidly in the digital product.
Thanks as always for reading, please let me know in a comment what digital products you love and why.
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