Design a library for the future
Google PM Interview: Product Design - Design a library for the future
The primary responsibility of a product manager is to lead the vision, design, and development of a product. When a business decides to create a product, it is based on the recognition of a genuine customer need, one for which the customer is willing to pay. The product manager plays a crucial role in recognizing customer needs and steering the design and development of products that effectively address those needs.
This product design interview question assesses your comprehension of the process involved in transitioning from customer needs to product development. This process entails clearly defining the customer's identity and understanding what they aim to achieve. It also involves outlining various use case scenarios where the customer engages in activities related to the product, and subsequently, prioritizing the features to be developed.
What is the interviewer looking for?
The interviewer is gauging your performance based on the following:
Can you offer insightful observations about the customer and their requirements?
Are you capable of presenting a variety of use case scenarios that cover different aspects?
Is your response well-organized and coherent, or does it deviate from the main topic?
Do your solutions delve beyond superficial suggestions, offering in-depth descriptions?
Can you introduce unique ideas that set you apart from other candidates?
Does your demeanor convey confidence and credibility? Would your guidance be compelling to engineers and product professionals?
How to answer Product Design Questions?
Here is a step-by-step guide/framework, you should follow while answering product design interview questions:
Ask clarifying Questions to narrow the scope. (Q)
Define the Goal you want to achieve. (G)
List the User Segments and choose one segment to focus on. (U)
List and prioritize the Pain Points. (P)
List out your Solutions. (S)
Evaluate the solutions and prioritize them. (E)
Walk through the MVP & Define the Success Metrics (M)
Summarize your answer (S)
State which solution you would recommend.
Recap what the solution does and why it is beneficial.
Explain why you prefer this solution.
(PQ-GUP-SEMS) -> Mnemonic to help you remember the steps & their order.
1. Ask Clarifying questions
Here are some clarifying questions,
What kind of library are we designing?
Answer: We are designing a public library for the future.
Are we focusing on a physical library, a digital platform, or both?
Answer: We are open to both physical and digital aspects, but let's focus on the digital platform for now.
What time frame do you mean by "future"?
Answer: Let's consider a time frame of 10 to 20 years into the future.
Do we have any specific problems or goals in mind for this future library?
Answer: The goal is to create a library experience that remains relevant and engaging amidst technological advancements and changing user needs.
Are there any constraints or considerations regarding the target audience or location?
Answer: We are targeting a diverse audience, but let's focus on urban communities with more than 1 million population.
Is there a particular focus on technology integration or innovation?
Answer: It’s up to you to decide.
What are the primary pain points or challenges users face in accessing and using libraries currently?
Answer: It’s up to you to figure out.
Are there any specific features or services that the library of the future should prioritize?
Answer: It’s up to you to decide.
Do we have any budgetary or resource constraints that we need to consider during the design process?
Answer: While we aim for innovation, let's keep the design within a reasonable budget and resource constraints to ensure feasibility and scalability.
2. Define the Goal
The primary goal of designing the library of the future is to revolutionize the concept of libraries to remain relevant and indispensable in the rapidly evolving digital age while preserving their essence as hubs of knowledge, community, and cultural enrichment.
The objective is to create a dynamic and innovative library experience that not only adapts to emerging technologies and changing user behaviours but also fosters a sense of belonging, curiosity, and lifelong learning among diverse communities.
Track user engagement metrics such as number of library visits, duration of visits, and participation in library programs and events.
3. User Segments:
At this step, list down the different user groups that are part of the ecosystem of the problem you’re solving for.
User groups should be distinct from each other and have unique characteristics.
Here are some of the major user segments:
Students: This group comprises school students, college students, and university students who utilize the library for studying, research, and access to educational resources.
Parents and Children: Parents often accompany their children to the library for educational purposes, storytime sessions, and to foster a love for reading and learning in their children.
Working Professionals: This group includes freelancers, remote workers, and individuals who utilize the library as a workspace, access resources for professional development, or attend workshops and seminars.
Seniors: Elderly individuals may use the library for leisure reading, attending community events, socializing, or accessing resources for lifelong learning and personal enrichment.
Community Groups: Local community organizations, book clubs, cultural groups, and non-profit organizations may utilize the library for meetings, events, and collaborative projects.
For this problem, let's focus on the segment of "Students", which includes both school students and university students. This group often forms a significant portion of library users and has distinct needs and characteristics compared to other user groups.
4. Pain Points
Following are some of the Pain Points for the Student user segment,
Limited Access to Resources: Students may face challenges accessing required textbooks, academic journals, or reference materials, especially if the library's collection is outdated or insufficient.
Overcrowding and Noise: Libraries may become overcrowded during peak hours, leading to a noisy and distracting environment that hampers concentration and study effectiveness.
Outdated Facilities and Technology: Students may encounter frustration with outdated technology, such as slow computers or limited access to online databases and research tools, hindering their ability to conduct research efficiently.
Lack of Study Spaces: Availability of quiet study spaces, group study rooms, and comfortable seating areas may be limited, making it difficult for students to find suitable environments for different study preferences and group collaboration.
Inconvenient Hours: Library operating hours may not align with students' schedules, particularly for those who study late at night or during weekends, leading to limited access to library resources when needed.
Accessibility Issues: Students with disabilities may encounter barriers related to physical accessibility, such as navigating stairs, accessing materials on high shelves, or using technology that lacks appropriate accommodations.
Unclear Organization of Materials: Difficulty in locating specific materials due to poor signage, inconsistent organization systems, or lack of clear labeling can waste students' time and cause frustration.
Limited Amenities and Services: Lack of essential amenities like printing and copying facilities, charging stations, or access to refreshments may inconvenience students and disrupt their study routines.
Financial Constraints: Students may face financial constraints that limit their ability to access certain resources or services offered by the library, such as paying for printing or accessing premium online databases.