Optimize them.

This is the new name of the game. Take everything in your application – the simple act of creating any bit of content; a post, a comment, a topic, a tweet, a note, a question, a status update – take everything you have – and squeeze every drop of potential from the very core of that “thing”.

Think about how damn hard you worked to get to this stage. How you wrestled over each permission level, the size of the input box, or the choice of which fields to include in the sign-up process. Think about the amount of stake you’ve already placed on people inviting their friends and the process around that seemingly simple act. Think about each ounce of your team’s energy that was used to bring this lovechild-of-an-app into existence.

Are you really prepared to move on? I’m not.

In the physical world, we rarely comment on an object (from a desk chair to an iPod) and say, “That extra feature is really what sealed it for me.” Almost always, it’s the simplicity with which we find ourselves able to grasp the power of the product, that dictates our reaction towards it.

The more a user can understand what’s in front of them, the more value they are likely to extract from a product. They are far more likely to be able to explain how they extracted that value to others, as well.

So instead of debating the merits of what feature should be next on the roadmap, focus on measuring the utilization rate of the features you currently have. As an example, Rocketr’s early data revealed:

  • >90% of Rocketr users successfully managed to take a note (good!)
  • Only ≈30% of Rocketr users are commenting on notes (okay-ish)
  • Worse, just 6.5% of Rocketr users are using the “Like” feature
  • ≈15% of Rocketr users are starring notes as a way to bookmark them

and the kicker…

  • 10.2% of Rocketr users have been invited to >1 notebook
    (correlated to exclude the ‘Rocketr Feedback‘ notebook)

It’s time to let our data guide our design and development decisions. There are very few situations in this world where we would consciously walk away from something that was realizing only 10% of its value. It’s amazing how comfortable we are with this when it comes to software.

(or maybe we’re the only ones with this problem)

  • Andrew, agreed that it’s too easy to get lost in features, and to forget about the “core” feature, and obsessing about how to make it 10x better than any of your competitors.

    Interesting to see your metrics. Your “core” feature, taking notes, appears through the roof. Are you also looking at 1st note, vs. 2nd, 3rd note etc.?

    This article on design vs. metrics can hopefully provide some additional insight:
    http://usersknow.blogspot.com/2011/03/when-is-design-done.html

  • Hey Gabriel,

    We are indeed looking at 2nd and 3rd notes. In fact, note-taking velocity is something we’re actively studying in general as a means to separate active from non-active users.

    And thanks for sharing that article. Good read.

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