Meg Realizes the Importance of Product Testing

And she learns the hard way of what happens when you don't.

Hero image for Issue #20: Product Testing

Whoa, this is issue number twenty. Can you believe it? I can’t.

Our third collection is launching soon, so I thought I’d take this week to look back at our second. We encountered 4 mishaps with our pin collection, all of which could have been prevented if we’d tested our products.

When we decided to make Atlanta rap pins, we just ran with the idea, didn’t overthink it. Two of the pins were inspired by emoji, so those were easy. And the last 3 we assigned to different people on the team, passing off finished work to our partner, PINTRILL.

We didn’t have time to get production samples, so we just crossed our fingers and waited for the full order to arrive.

The first 2 problems were immediately obvious:

If we’d had time to approve samples, we would have noticed and fixed these mistakes before placing a full order. Easy enough. The pins are fine as is, and we actually still like them a lot! But they could be better.

Lesson learned.

The last 2 problems were only obvious after we took photos and shared the pins with the world:

We thought the designs were vague enough that people would enjoy them without necessarily getting the rap references. And they’d be extra fun for those who did get them.

But we should’ve considered our customers more. Buying an item that references something they don’t understand also means publicly supporting that something, and that made some of our customers uncomfortable. Which is totally valid! We got so excited making something fun that we didn’t consider what Freddie and Co. customers might actually want.

The last mishap is one I was very reluctant to share. But the whole point of What’s in Store is to be transparent and honest about what I’ve learned through this process. So here we go.

When I ordered the “I’m with Fist” pins, I requested the emoji fist and point hands and didn’t specify any other details. I assumed they’d be the generic emoji yellow. But when they arrived, they were the lightest emoji skin color. Hmm. Not what I expected, but I didn’t really think anything of it.

After we launched the collection, a few coworkers and friends said, “Uhh, isn’t it kinda weird that you only have white hands?” And as soon as they pointed it out, I realized it was kinda weird. I hadn’t thought twice because the hand pins were the same color as my own hands. But there are lots of colors of hands in the world, and it didn’t sit right with me that our pins represented only one. Diversity and representation are super important to us at Mailchimp, so I talked it over with the team and we decided to pull the old white hands from the store and rush order new ones.

This time, we got them in shiny-fancy-gold-plated brass.

These are all problems that could have been prevented had we gotten early production samples and talked them over with the team before ordering. Letting others react to your product and provide feedback can help you see things that you’d miss otherwise. If we could do this all again, we’d maybe even try a focus group.

In hindsight, this seems so obvious!

Ah, well, what would What’s In Store be if I wasn’t making mistakes and learning from them each week, amirite?!

Next week, Melissa will be chiming in with a guest post all about holiday prepping! September might seem early to be thinking about the holidays, but it’s actually way too late. 🙂