The Art of Creating Meaningful Products: Insights from WeChat's Father, Allen Zhang


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 31, 2023

3 min read


The Art of Creating Meaningful Products: Insights from WeChat's Father, Allen Zhang

In today's digital age, where countless products and platforms compete for our attention, creating a meaningful and successful product can seem like an uphill battle. However, there are valuable lessons to be learned from Allen Zhang, the father of WeChat, whose product philosophy emphasizes the combination of intuitive design, human psychology, and technological feasibility.

Zhang believes that a good product should be innovative, useful, beautiful, and easy to use. It should be unobtrusive and modest, honest, and timeless. Every small detail matters, and it should be environmentally friendly, avoiding wastage of resources. Zhang's philosophy can be summed up as "less is more," advocating for simplicity and elegance in product design.

One key aspect of Zhang's approach is his belief that technology should primarily focus on helping humankind increase efficiency. This echoes the age-old wisdom of Confucius, who espoused the Golden Rule of treating others as you would like to be treated. Zhang sees his users as friends and believes that genuine empathy is essential for creating products that will be used and cherished for a long time.

Quality is of utmost importance to Zhang, as he believes that what we see and read determines our thoughts and the kind of person we become. This underscores the critical need for exposure to high-quality, trustworthy, and effective information. By prioritizing quality over openness, Zhang ensures that WeChat delivers the greatest good to its users.

Communication plays a vital role in Zhang's product philosophy. He views it as the process of inculcating one's self-image into another person's mind. This understanding of communication has shaped WeChat's approach to marketing and user engagement. Rather than imposing on users, WeChat focuses on building genuine relationships and providing value. This may take more time, but it ensures that the product grows in a healthy and sustainable manner.

In the world of product management, it is easy to be swayed by user demands and opinions. However, Zhang cautions against blindly fulfilling every user request. Doing so can lead to increased complexity and a loss of coherence. Instead, Zhang sees WeChat's biggest competitor as itself, constantly striving to keep up with the evolving tastes and needs of its users.

For Zhang, a successful platform is one that benefits its users and brings hope to their lives. It is not just about pursuing short-term gains but creating a lasting impact. When a platform focuses solely on its own benefits, it is short-sighted and unlikely to endure. However, when it genuinely benefits the people, it takes on a life of its own.

Drawing from Zhang's insights, here are three actionable pieces of advice for product creators:

  • 1. Prioritize quality: In an era of information overload, ensure that the content and features you offer are of the highest quality. This will shape the thoughts and experiences of your users.
  • 2. Cultivate genuine empathy: Treat your users as friends and understand their needs on a deeper level. This will enable you to create products that resonate with them and stand the test of time.
  • 3. Focus on long-term impact: Don't be swayed by short-term gains or fleeting trends. Instead, strive to create a platform that benefits and brings hope to your users' lives. This will foster loyalty and ensure the longevity of your product.

In conclusion, Allen Zhang's product philosophy offers valuable insights for anyone involved in creating meaningful products. By combining intuitive design, human psychology, and technological feasibility, and prioritizing quality, empathy, and long-term impact, product creators can build products that not only succeed but also leave a lasting impression on their users' lives.

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