The Chicken or the Egg? Explaining Our Early Product Design Decisions at

Published June 05, 2018 by Jane Portman

Illustration for Early Design Decisions

“You need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

This was the blunt feedback one of our early adopters gave us during his onboarding call.

As co-founders, we’d spent the past several months doing customer research for, collecting a round of pre-orders, and using our findings to build a very raw MVP. Now, we were finally ready to invite our first few customers into the product.

But when the time came for onboarding calls, we hemmed and hawed — all three of us nervous about showing people real, actual product screens, and answering tough questions about the MVP’s core features.

But in the end, it turned out that our early adopter was right. We took his advice — we showed him the actual product, got deep into a features discussion, and lo and behold: he walked away so eager to come on board!

This article is a continuation of that sharing process: below, we’ll explain our product decisions and show our progress to everyone, not just those who pre-ordered.

To recap, here are the initial core features of the app that customers can expect:

  1. Managing the user list and tracking each individual user journey.
  2. Sending automated email messages based on user behavior.
  3. Sending email broadcasts (like newsletters or announcements).

Now, I’ll walk you through the key screens and explain some of our product decisions. Our design choices were largely based on customer research, but also on my own experience with other email automation tools.

Disclaimer: these are merely design layouts which represent our current product vision. Since the core part of our strategy is promptly acting on user feedback, virtually anything is subject to change at any time.

User list

User list at

The heart of the product is the user list — hence the name. This simple admin panel allows SaaS founders (our customers) to see who exactly their users are, with names and key details like LTV or plan information.

One of the early frustrations with my previous SaaS product was the lack of such a user list. When I launched the beta version of that product, I realized that there was no UI to see my new users (unless I wanted to build a custom admin dashboard, which comes with a development cost). And my analytics tools only showed faceless data with session IDs! As a result, I opted for Intercom, but I can still remember that feeling — not being able to monitor such obvious information was frustrating.

From the user list, the founder can navigate to each individual profile. Let’s see what these profiles look like. […]

Read the full article at

Want more content like this in your inbox?

Join 7,000 awesome people on my mailing list — designers, SaaS founders, product managers & marketers who are business-driven and want to build better software.