7 Product Team Pitfalls You Should Avoid

Use your keyboard arrows to watch the story!

Pro tip: Use landscape mode!

Growth.Design - Case Study #021

Story Duration: 4 min

In a product team, a lot of things can go wrong between...

...the moment you decide to build a new feature, and⁠—

—its release...

we chatted with thousands of our last 25,000 Growth.Design subscribers, and we saw a clear pattern. Most product team struggle because of one of the 5 following mistakes…

We spoke with thousands of our last 25,000 Growth·Design subscribers...

And we saw a clear pattern—


we chatted with thousands of our last 25,000 Growth.Design subscribers, and we saw a clear pattern. Most product team struggle because of one of the 5 following mistakes…

—most product teams struggle with one of the following 7 mistakes…


Mistake #1:

Copying what other companies do...

Start with First Principles

First-principles thinking is one of the best ways to understand complicated problems.1

Understand the root cause of why something works (or doesn't), so you can adapt it to your problem and build great experiences.

1FS Blog, First Principles: The Building Blocks of True Knowledge (2016)

...Understanding the 🧠 psychology behind product decisions.


Cool cool cool.

No doubt, no doubt.


Avatar displaying current emotion

What if...

We just do like the new TikTok feed?

Everybody likes it!


If only it was that easy!

But, you can't copy others without...


Mistake #2:

Relying heavily on "instinct"

know Your users In Depth

You build products to solve someone else's problem.

If you want to build something that will make people stop what they're doing... You need to constantly be aware of their needs.

"The truth is outside the building." 1

1Drift, Getting In The Mud aka Carrying The Water 3.0 (2019)
Avatar displaying current emotion

If you say so...


No time to waste on user research!

I KNOW this will work... I feel it in my gut!


Your instincts will only get you so far.

If you really want to build products people love...


Mistake #3:

Not testing ideas early...

Avatar displaying current emotion

Pushing in
in 3, 2, 1...


⁠—But all you need is:​

1) 🕸 Wireframes: You don't even need colors.

2) 🤩 Fans: When people believe in your mission, they're more willing to help.

3) 📞 Phone: Just pick up the phone!

You could save your business precious time and tons of money. 

Finaaalllly! 11 months of hard work...

I hope our users like it!

Building behind closed doors is a huge risk nowadays⁠—


Mistake #4:

ONLY doing what the BOSS wants...

Avatar displaying current emotion

I guess.

This is good but...

Can we add another call-to-action on top to make it POP?

Going against what your boss says is always tough...


The CEO Button

The CEO button is an unusual request from an executive to add a feature that completely destroys the balance of a project.1

1Tom Greever, Articulating Design Decisions (2015)

But here are a few tips to help:

1) 🤝 Trust: Remind them they hired you for a reason!

2) 🔤 Vocabulary: Learn the psychology behind your decisions, and you'll have the right words to justify them.

Last but not least...


As Tim Ferris famously said:

"Success can be measured by the number of hard discussions you're willing to have."

Be brave!

Dunning-Kruger Effect

People tend to think they're better than they are when they don't know much.1

Chances are, people outside of your team didn't do the same user research you did.

They're only trying to make the best bets  based on limited information. 

1Growth·Design, 🧠The Psychology of Design (2020)

Mistake #5:

Compromising to make everyone happy...

How To Filter Feedback

You don't want to end up with a "watered-down" solution, where users are lost because of noise.

• Start with a clear purpose of the problem you're trying to solve.

It will be easier to filter the feedback. 1

⚠️ Be careful: Feedback is what takes your product to the next level. Don't dismiss it because it doesn't please you.

1Tanner Christensen , Four Things Working at Facebook Has Taught Me About Design Critique (2016)
Avatar displaying current emotion

Let's add a 🔍 filter...

...and more 🎨illustrations...

...and an 💈activity feed!


All great ideas, we'll add them right away.

Unfortunately, sometimes, you have to say no to keep the product's vision.


Mistake #6:

Force your beliefs on others...

Avatar displaying current emotion

...that confirms my idea!


Hey Dan! Just sent you this great article...

Confirmation Bias

We tend to favor and use information that confirms our existing beliefs. 1

Make sure you explore both sides of the coin before sending articles to colleagues! If not, they'll ignore you.

1Growth.Design, The Psychology of Design (2020)

skills come with repetitions

The more use cases you see, the better you get at recognizing patterns.1 

You will also predict and expect what is coming faster.

This is how Kasparov (chess player) can go head-to-head against Deep blue (computer) that thinks 10 million times faster than him.2

1Wikipedia, Pattern recognition (2019)
2Forte Labs, A Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind (2018)
Avatar displaying current emotion

Should we add onboarding steps?

...hmm or add some padding...

...Maybe do an A/B test?

Mistake #7:

Having no idea why something feels odd...

You can't solve this over night but—


What about your team?

Ready to take a look in the mirror? 👉

But just before...


🚀 How to Become a better product leader 

Before you take our team quiz...
Get this free one-pager containing:

  • CHECKLIST: 7 key steps on how to become a better product leader.
  • INSIGHTS: All of the 7 psychological & UX insights covered here (with screenshots!)

Yes, I Want My Cheatsheet!


You completed Growth.Design's Case Study #021:
"Product Team Pitfalls"