On Impactful Products

Amol Chahal

Amol Chahal / April 22, 2022

2 min read

I started my journey of learning about digital products about three years ago. It was not a straight path. I realized an important principle about impactful products: no matter how good of an engineering solution you might have, it can all be a waste if you're not building something worthwhile. What to build is sometimes more difficult than how. Let's define 'worthwhile'– what does that even mean?

I'd define something 'worthwhile' as having some economic value – something someone would pay for. Or, something someone would use every single day or frequently. If taken away, they would find an alternative way to fulfill that need.

Software is this weird space where you can spend basically nothing and create a billion dollars of value, or spend a billion dollars and create basically no value. – François Chollet

Impactful products usually possess an important key trait – simplicity. It's much harder to take a complex solution and turn it into a product that's simple to use. The complexity almost blends and hides behind the elegance of this simplicity. There is a general sense of lacking and emptiness. But when examined closely, there also exists a sense of perfection. It feels simple yet whole.

The process of attempting to build impactful products almost always requires iteration. And, trying to optimize for perfection tends to impede this process. Counterintuitively, I believe iteration is a prerequisite for perfection. Aiming for perfection before iteration can hinder this ultimate goal at hand. That said, one area of perfection is worth aiming for: the core functionality – solving the core problem in the simplest way that works. The rest is in the hands of iteration.