June 13

Should your roadmap include helping people not use your product?

When we’re tasked with building out our company’s roadmaps – we’re often thinking about what products and features we can build to solve problems for our customers (or at least, we should be!). But we’re also trying to move key metrics that are important for our company’s objectives as well. For many websites and apps – engagement is one of those key metrics. But in what many may think would be a surprising move, TikTok actually introduced a feature that would intentionally help its users decrease engagement.

Recently, TikTok announced it would be rolling out options for consumers to end the endless scrolling that we’re all very used to when using social apps like TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and others. These options allow users to set custom time limits for how much uninterrupted time they want to spend using the app. After that, the user will receive a notification reminding them to take a break. In a way, it’s not all that different from our Apple Watches reminding us to get up and moving throughout the day.

But why? Why would TikTok introduce features that would theoretically encourage its users to stop using its app?

It could be that companies like TikTok are feeling the recent societal pressures to be more mindful of its users’ well-being in this digital age where everybody is constantly on their devices. We’ve even talked through product addiction in a recent season of Rocketship.FM. In the episode, we were hopeful that companies like TikTok can do more to help users on this front – and it seems like perhaps they’re moving in the right direction on that front.

Most of the products we’re managing may not be in the same boat as TikTok where we have that much control over our users’ habits. But even still – maybe moves like this are a reminder that we should at least be aware of the impact our products have on users – whether they’re intended or not.

Mike Belsito

About the author

Mike Belsito is a startup product and business developer who loves creating something from nothing. Mike is the Co-Founder of Product Collective which organizes INDUSTRY, one of the largest product management summits anywhere in the world. For his leadership at Product Collective, Mike was named one of the Top 40 influencers in the field of Product Management. Mike also serves as a Faculty member of Case Western Reserve University in the department of Design and Innovation, and is Co-Host of one of the top startup podcasts online, Rocketship.FM. Prior to Product Collective, Mike spent the past 12 years in startup companies as an early employee, Co-Founder, and Executive. Mike's businesses and products have been featured in national media outlets such as the New York Times, The Atlantic, CNN, NPR, and elsewhere. Mike is also the Author of Startup Seed Funding for the Rest of us, one of the top startup books on Amazon.


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