Navigating the Challenges of Product Growth and Online Discovery



Jun 30, 20234 min read


Navigating the Challenges of Product Growth and Online Discovery


In this article, we will explore two different topics that are central to the digital landscape: product growth strategy and the challenges of search, discovery, and marketing. While these may seem unrelated at first, we will uncover common points between the two and discuss their implications for businesses in the online sphere. Additionally, we will provide actionable advice for companies looking to navigate these challenges successfully.

The Figma Product Growth Strategy:

Figma, a design tool, has implemented a unique product growth strategy by targeting specific user segments. More than half of Figma's users are individuals, students, and professionals involved in the product design process. By offering the platform for free to these users, Figma generates a large user base at the top of the funnel. As these users grow in their careers or transition into companies, they are more likely to upgrade to the paid version of Figma. This approach allows Figma to start at the bottom end of the market and gradually move upmarket, ultimately commanding a premium and presenting an existential threat to competitors like Adobe.

Search, Discovery, and Marketing Challenges:

The internet has revolutionized access to information, making it possible to find almost anything. However, it has also made it impossible to be aware of everything. Early attempts at online search and discovery, such as Yahoo's directory, proved ineffective as the number of websites grew exponentially. Google's search engine solved the problem of finding specific information but struggled with recommendation and discovery. It relies on users knowing what they want to find and doesn't excel at suggesting things they didn't know they wanted.

Unbundling and Constraint in Discovery:

In the quest for better discovery, businesses have taken different approaches. While some strive to deliver a comprehensive experience, others focus on constraint, curation, and personal preference. For example, restaurant listing platforms often limit their recommendations to a select number of establishments based on specific criteria. This trade-off between comprehensive lists and personalized recommendations highlights the challenges of finding the right balance in discovery.

The Role of Curation and Recommendation:

The rise of platforms like ProductHunt and Pinterest demonstrates the value of community-driven curation in surfacing quality content at scale. However, relying solely on machine algorithms to aggregate opinions or personal data is not yet sufficient to deliver truly tailored recommendations. Physical retail stores serve as filters and recommendation platforms for books, highlighting the importance of human curation. The challenge for internet retailers is to scale curation and recommendation in ways that are user-friendly and surpass the limitations of traditional search-based approaches.

The Importance of Marketing in the Online Space:

While the internet has removed many barriers to entry for businesses, it has also made advertising and marketing more critical than ever. Simply having a product or service available online is not enough to guarantee success. Entrepreneurs need to recognize the value of marketing and the importance of reaching their target audience effectively. As Marc Andreessen stated, "We've made it to where we are with absolutely no sales or marketing spend" is not always a positive signal.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Understand your target audience: Identify the specific user segments that are most likely to benefit from your product or service. Tailor your marketing and growth strategy to cater to their needs and pain points.
  • 2. Invest in curation and recommendation: Consider incorporating community-driven curation or personalized recommendation systems into your platform. This can enhance the user experience and increase engagement.
  • 3. Embrace marketing as a vital component: Don't underestimate the power of marketing in the online space. Allocate resources to create effective marketing campaigns that connect with your target audience and drive growth.


Navigating the challenges of product growth strategy and online discovery requires a deep understanding of user behavior, effective marketing tactics, and innovative approaches to curation and recommendation. By implementing the actionable advice provided in this article, businesses can position themselves for success in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Remember, the internet may have made access to information easier, but standing out and reaching the right audience still require strategic thinking and effective execution.


  1. "The Figma Product Growth Strategy", (Glasp)
  2. "Search, discovery and marketing — Benedict Evans", (Glasp)

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