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My Favorite Tools for Product Development

A product development veteran shares her favorites for analytics, storage, prototyping, product management, code management and feedback and support.

By Poornima Vijayashanker (Founder, Femgineer)

My approach to product development covers the following stages: ideation, market research, customer discovery, prototyping, usability testing, product roadmap, building an MVP, and finally putting in analytics and metrics.

In parallel, I’m of course thinking about recruiting teammates, and figuring out how to fund the creation of the product.

As a founder this can seem pretty daunting, and ONE of the keys to being able to ship product and keep your teammates happy is to find the right set of tools!

The following are my favorite tools for product development.

Analytics – Google Analytics

In the early stages of product development, when you’re just performing landing page tests, measuring traffic and interest, Google Analytics is enough to give you a great way to test if people are even interested in signing up to try your product out!  You can also measure the success of campaigns through social media, email, and other channels, and keep track of search terms.

My favorite feature in Google Analytics is the goal’s feature, because I can figure out if people are ending up where I want them to end up.  Google analytics creates a very clear funnel that’s easy to follow

Storage – DropBox and Google Drive

I love that DropBox keeps files seamlessly synced, backed up, and makes it easier to share with others.

Google Drive has also improved immensely in the past year.  It provides quick access to many Google file types like documents, forms, and spreadsheets, plus being able to send files via email, it’s pretty attractive and easy to use.

Given that there are some filetypes that don’t convert well to Google Drive such as PDFs, I’m going to have to keep using both Google Drive and DropBox.

Prototyping – BalsamiqInVisionBriefs

I like all three of these products. I’ve used Balsamiq quite a lot in the past, but some of the newcomers have added functionality like team collaboration, and mobile app interactivity that are pretty interesting and necessary to the prototyping and usability testing phase of product development.

Product Management – Pivotal Tracker and Sprint.ly

I’ve been torn between these two products. I started managing BizeeBee with Tracker, and have always love the ease-of-use. I was also afforded the privilege of being able to interview a Pivot (Pivotal Labs employee), who explained how the tool is an extension of their development process.  Since we adopted their development process, the tool became even more of a natural extension.

Sprint.ly is the new kid on the block, and I have to say aesthetically it is pretty appealing. I’ve demo’ed it to student in my product development course, and most are pretty blown away by it.

Regardless of which product you go with you can be assured, that they both will make it easy for you to track your team’s progress, manage workloads, and integrate with Github making it even easier to track changes and perform code reviews.

Code Repository – Github 

I’ve played around with a LOT of different source repositories, and have of course managed to mangle code with ALL of them pissing off release managers and team leads. Needless to stay dealing with branches is a bitch!

Back in 2009 I first learned about Github, when they were presenting at a Facebook developers event. I wasn’t totally onboard with the unfederated approach, but it turns out I was just averse to change!  Over the past three years I’ve become a believer.

Feedback and Support – ZenDesk

The main thing about ZenDesk I love is that it’s all email based!  If you’re not an email lover, then I understand, but realize that customers will most likely email in complaints. I’ve used a few other solutions, but I think ZenDesk is definitely the most user friendly. I also like it’s forum support.

Those are my favorite tools. I’m curious to hear from readers, like you. I’d like to know if there are other tools you’re using that you think are better, or maybe I’ve missed listing out others that are used in the product development process.

This post originally appeared on Femgineer

Women 2.0 readers: What are your favorite tools?

About the guest blogger: Poornima Vijayashanker is founder of Femgineer. Prior to Femgineer, she founded BizeeBee. Prior to that, Mint where she began as employee #3 in 2006, and stayed through the startup’s acquisition by Intuit for $170M in 2010. Prior to Mint, she was in the Master’s degree program for computer science at Stanford University. Poornima holds a double degree in electrical and computer engineering and Computer Science from Duke University. Poornima blogs on Femgineer.com and is a competitive yoga. Follow her on Twitter at @poornima.