How would you improve WhatsApp? | Facebook PM Interview
Product Improvement - Facebook Product Manager Interview: How would you improve WhatsApp?
Let’s get started with the solution (remember to follow the framework),
Step 0: Listen Carefully
Question asked: How would you improve WhatsApp?
Two things to keep in mind:
Define the product - WhatsApp.
Clarify & Define the term “Improve”.
Step 1: Describe the Product
To start off in the right direction, you need to explain your understanding of the product – what does it do, who uses it, and how.
“WhatsApp is a widely used cross-platform centralized instant messaging (IM) and voice-over-IP (VoIP) service that allows users to communicate with each other in a variety of ways. It allows users to send and receive text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, payments, and other content.
The application is available for free on a wide range of platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac.
The history of WhatsApp dates back to 2009, when two former Yahoo employees, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, decided to create a messaging application that would be easy to use and accessible to everyone. Their goal was to create an application that would allow people to communicate with their friends and family in a more efficient and convenient way. After a year of development, WhatsApp was officially launched on the App Store in 2010.
Since its launch, WhatsApp has become one of the most popular messaging applications in the world. One of the main reasons for its success is its ease of use. The application is simple to navigate, and users can easily send and receive messages, photos, and videos with their contacts. The interface is clean and uncluttered, which makes it easy for users to find what they are looking for.
Another key feature of WhatsApp is its end-to-end encryption, which ensures that all messages and media exchanged between users are kept private and secure. This feature is particularly important for users who are concerned about their privacy and security.
WhatsApp also allows users to create groups, which is a great way for people to stay in touch with their friends and family. Groups can be created for any purpose, such as for work, school, or social events. Users can also add other users to their groups, which makes it easy to communicate with a large number of people at once.
In addition to text and media messaging, WhatsApp also offers a number of other features, such as voice and video calls. These features allow users to communicate with their contacts in real-time, which is particularly useful for people who are not able to meet in person.
Another important feature of WhatsApp is its ability to integrate with other applications. For example, users can share their WhatsApp status with their friends and followers on other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. This feature makes it easy for users to stay connected with their contacts across multiple platforms.
WhatsApp has also introduced a number of business-friendly features, such as the ability for businesses to create official accounts and the ability for customers to communicate with businesses through WhatsApp. This has made it easier for businesses to connect with their customers and provide them with customer service.
There are many competitors of WhatsApp in the instant messaging and voice-over-IP service market, including Telegram, Signal, Viber, Line, and WeChat. However, with over 2 billion active users, WhatsApp is currently the most popular messaging app in the world. It is available in more than 180 countries and 60 different languages.
In summary, WhatsApp is a powerful and versatile instant messaging and voice-over-IP service that has revolutionized the way people communicate. With its simple and user-friendly interface, end-to-end encryption, and ability to create groups, WhatsApp has become a popular choice among users around the globe. The application also offers a number of other features, such as voice and video calls, which make it easy for users to stay connected with their contacts. With the increasing use of WhatsApp among businesses, it has become a valuable tool for businesses to connect with their customers and provide them with customer service.
Now that we are clear on the product description and the interviewer is also onboarded.
Let’s move on to the next step: Ask Clarifying Questions.
You: “Before we move on, I have a few clarifying questions I want to ask. Shall I proceed?”
Step 2: Ask clarifying questions to narrow the scope of the question
Q) What do we mean by improvement here? Are there any particular goals we are looking at? like,
Improve user engagement?
Increase user retention?
Acquire new users?
A) It’s up to you. You are free to choose.
Q) Are we focusing on any particular platform like desktop web or mobile app?
A) Let’s focus on Mobile App.
Q) Is it for Business WhatsApp or Normal WhatsApp?
A) Let’s take Normal WhatsApp for the purpose of this question.
Q) For the improvement are we focusing on a particular region or target group?
A) No, it’s up to you.
Step 3: Define the Goal you want to achieve.
The mission of WhatsApp is to “connect the world privately by designing a product that's simple and private”, which resonates with the overall Facebook mission of connecting people and communities to bring the world closer together.
I feel user engagement is something that aligns very closely with this mission of WhatsApp. Also, if we can increase the user engagement on WhatsApp, it will also lead to an increase in user retention and possibly revenue for WhatsApp.
Mention your approach -
“Now that we have defined the goals for this problem, I will go ahead and list down the user segments for this product, followed by the pain points these users are facing, prioritizing them, and coming up with a prioritized list of solutions and metrics that we will track to identify its success.”
Step 4: List the User Segments and choose one segment to focus on.
WhatsApp is used by a wide variety of user groups and across many geographies.
We can broadly categories the user segments into,
This is the largest and the most active user segment, who use WhatsApp for regular personal communication, engaging in groups, sharing content, etc.
This segment of users/companies uses WhatsApp to engage with their clients for sales and support.
For the purpose of this exercise, I will consider the Consumers segment who mostly use WhatsApp for their personal use.
The consumer segment can be further broken down into,
Students - Highly active user segment and Mostly uses the app to have call/text conversations with friends, family, and classmates regarding academic or personal topics.
Working professionals - Highly active user segment and Likes to use WhatsApp to stay connected with their family, friends, and colleagues. Particularly during working hours, uses the app for crucial on-the-job-related messaging. May also have a confidential conversation with a client/customer/colleague.
Elderly people - Usually less active and Mostly use the app to have call/text conversations with other family members and relatives.
Now, Select your user group and state your reason for the same. -
“For the scope of this question, I plan to go ahead with the Student segment (Gen Z users), as this segment of users is very large in number who are always looking for new ways to communicate effectively with their friends and family.
If we can solve the pain points of these users, and help them engage more then that would increase the user engagement, which in turn can lead to an increase in retention as well.”
Step 5: List down the user pain-points
Pain-Points of the Student segment,
Students tend to forget class timings and eventually end up missing classes or meetings.
Students find it difficult to keep themselves regularly updated with the latest and reliable/authentic news or current affairs.
Students have to rely on other applications (which consume high internet bandwidth and are difficult to use) for remote learning (due to lockdown) as WhatsApp has the limit of having only 8 participants on a video call. Also, users are not able to share their device screens during calls with the larger study groups.
Students find it difficult to search or manage important images, videos, notes, or messages related to a certain topic from WA chats or from device storage.
Genz users due to the pandemic currently have very limited ways to engage with their friends, de-stress and spend their leisure time.
Students tend to create/join many groups but the group size cannot be more than 256 in WhatsApp (vs. telegram of 200K). Also, students’ personal information (like mobile number) goes public when they join any group on WhatsApp.
Students currently do not have an option to host or participate in quizzes/polls which can further help solidify their learning.
Students have to rely on an external application like chrome for opening website links from Whatsapp. They have to again navigate back to Whatsapp to continue reading the messages in some cases they might not even come back.
Students tend to share a lot of notes/books as PDFs. Currently, they can only attach documents of size 100MB only. (vs. 2GB in telegram).
Note: Mentioning a maximum of 5-6 pain points during the actual interview should be enough.