No God Mode: Live With Same Limitations Your Users Experience

“Get rid of 10 minute video limit” was high on our 2007 YouTube task list, and although it took several years longer than I had expected, we were eventually able to grant ‘long uploads’ to all users in good standing. During the interim period plenty of folks at Google would ping me about getting their limit removed as we had for partners, politicians and advertisers. These requests ranged from random colleagues to Google executives, but regardless of my familiarity or their status, I delivered the same message, “no.”

Yes, telling a VP that their kid’s graduation video would need to be split into 10 minute segments likely qualifies as a Career Limiting Move, but it was an important decision. We needed to experience the product as our community did and not solve problems for ourselves that we weren’t also solving for them.

So while God Mode might be essential for debugging or internal efficiency, be careful to not create a distorted reality. Your users are likely on worse hardware with slower connections. They bump against your system limits all the time. The best way to motivate and fix problems is to encounter these same frustrations, and make sure your executives do as well.

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