The Most Helpful Articles We Read This Year

The Innovatemap team is a curious bunch. Working with clients in different industries keeps us constantly learning to keep our skills sharp and best serve our clients. We have multiple Slack channels devoted to sharing content with each other, and over the span of a year, these channels have collected hundreds of articles.

To wrap-up the year, we thought it would be fun to cull our favorites down from a few hundred to just a few dozen and share. The articles below span the areas of product management, product marketing, UX, and product brand, with a little bit of product sales and strategy thrown in, too.

Enjoy!


Product Management

How to Build a Minimum Lovable Product
Entertaining and impactful advice on how to go beyond minimum viable to build products people actually want…and love. Packed full of great nuggets! — Lacey

24 Lessons Learned in my First Three Years as a Product Manager
This article shares actionable takeaways for those that are either early in their product career, or are playing the role of product manager because no on else is. It gives insight into common mistakes PMs can make and how to form effective relationships as a PM. It also gives insight into how others perceive your work and your role. — Phil

My 8 Rules of Great Products
Short read with lots of wisdom. Mitchel Harper, who has built products for more than 200,000 paying customers, shares the eight rules he continues coming back to when he starts, advises, or invests in a new company . — Brittany

Why Chefs and Soldiers Make the Best Product Managers
What do chefs, soldiers, and product managers have in common? My favorite example: each embraces what is sometimes a thankless job. — Sara


Product Marketing

A Ski Resort Used a 1-star Review in Its (Brilliant) Ads, So Now I’m Inspired
The best ad I’ve seen all year, followed by some great reminders for anyone working in a creative field. — Meghan

Spotify Builds More Funny Ads Around User Data, This Time Saluting Goofy Playlist Names
It’s not a new concept (like the Pringles Flavor Contest), but Spotify has a charming and hilarious take on using user-generated content in marketing. Show people how users are interacting with your product and others will start to see how it can help them. — Jon

The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen
Framing up your sales deck with an engaging narrative is essential to stand apart. This article contains components of “the greatest sales deck” Andy Raskin has ever seen. It entails examples of how Zuora crafted their high-level strategic story that powered effective sales, marketing, and fundraising. — Brittany

All the Public Startup Pitch Decks in One Place
Need inspiration? Want to see what others have done? Checkout this list of great pitch decks. — Brittany

This Sales Plan Moves the Needle on Every Success Metric
In a world where buyers are less predictable than ever before, it’s important that you lead them through a sales process. Make the concept of the plan sacred while keeping the content flexible. — Sara

The Business Behind Your Business
When it comes down to it, the “who” is what matters. Leverage your craft to build relationships. — Sara

The Secret Science of Coolness
Learn the psychology about change and the science of what makes things cool. “To sell something surprising, make it familiar. To sell something familiar, make it surprising.” It’s interesting to learn about what’s behind subconscious preference. — Kristin

Units of Time are the New Currency
This article proposes that digital businesses shift away from creating moats to protect assets and scale. Instead, he offers treating your strategy like a utility so that you create value that consumers cannot live without. Instead of retreating into a protected area, your digital business should spread out and integrate with as many platforms as possible. — Christian

How Grammarly Quietly Grew Its Way to 6.9 Million Daily Users in 9 Years
It’s always a treat when someone can expose the secrets to success. This profile of Grammarly is amazingly useful, with strategies that many companies can immediately learn from. — Christian

How to Decide When to Move Upmarket
When should SaaS companies start to consider the move up-market and why? Selling to SMB is very different than selling into enterprises. This provides a quick summary of points to consider when evaluating what it really means for a company to shift to (or add) enterprise focus. What is the investment, what roles, what process and what product should exist to serve the different needs of the enterprise market?
— Tina


UX

The Psychology Principles Every UI/UX Designer Needs to Know
This article summarizes six psychology principles and how these impact the user experience and the design approach.
— Yhareli

How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind — from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist
As much I love technology and its benefits, this article discusses the negative side-effect it can have on our minds. It’s an ethical view on the role design plays in creating addictive behavior versus empowering users to make their own choices. — Yhareli

The Seven Deadly Sins of Predicting the Future of AI
In 2017, AI came up quite a bit with clients. It’s popular and clearly full of possibilities. But the reality is that we are a bit further away from the dream (and nightmare) scenarios AI and Machine Learning can bring to reality. This is one of the most sensible and intriguing articles written on the subject all year.
— Christian

So, your product’s got a leaky bucket problem…
It’s not often you’ll find anyone paying attention to the design of the cancellation flow. After all, if someone is cancelling, you don’t need to serve them any more, right? I loved this deep look into designing cancellation flows that either leave a customer with a positive impression, or make them second-guess their decision. — Christian

The Perils of Perfection
An oldie but a goodie. A great reminder that most of the time the problems that we are trying to solve are much deeper than they seem to be, and that jumping straight to solutions before we’ve considered all of the options is often careless and potentially dangerous. — Evan

Artwork Personalization at Netflix
This an extensive article that explains Netflix’s experimentation on personalized recommendation. It focuses on artwork selection for show titles to help members discover new content. I thought it provided a unique angle on research, product design and marketing. — Yhareli


Product Brand

Credit Karma’s CEO Built a Sexy Brand in an Unsexy Category with No PR Firm and a Tiny Budget- Here’s How
Why you should establish your brand early and pro tips for doing it well. A great brand is grounded in reality, acknowledges customer and user reactions, and influences every aspect of the business it represents. — Meghan

How Logos Became the Most Important Quarter Inch in Business
The history of the logo, and why “the stakes for the modern corporate logo have never been higher.” Thanks to apps and social media, consumers are interacting with logos more than ever before. In an increasingly brand-saturated world, companies are forced to focus on brand identity to make the marks mean something. — Meghan

What Happens When a Billion People Meetup
Right after Meetup joined with We Work, they released this brilliant product vision piece. Most companies struggle to think outside of “marketspeak” but Meetup instead communicated their vision by literally describing a future world. I hope to see more companies do this in 2018. — Christian

Get me to the Greek
Chobani’s late 2017 rebrand is amazing on it’s own. But the bigger story is how the pendulum of corporate brand identity is swinging back away from the geometric trend that had become so ubiquitous over the last couple years, and moving into organic forms. — Parker