Josh Pitzalis

Optimising for retention.

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How do people discover features in an app?

If we’re building a feature that only caters to 20% of our users then where do we put it? If we splash it in everyone’s face we’re just spamming 80% of the people who use our app.

When our app only did one thing our core feature was 100% obvious. Now we have five features and the same amount of attention gets distributed between them. At best, each feature can only be 20% obvious. The more features we add the less obvious each one becomes.

There are design principles that we’re using to skirt the edges here. We can cluster things together, space things apart, play with size and colour and contrast but all we’re doing is shuffling attention around. Let’s steal 5% of the attention from these bits and give it to this thing over here.

We cant make everything more obvious. Attention is a zero-sum game.

When we were small we could just stuff all our features into the navigation bar...

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Surfacing Product Features

I’m working on a product at the moment. We’re interviewing existing customers. Something that’s coming up is people are asking for features that already exist.

I’ve been thinking about ways to help people discover features.


Let’s stuff everything into the navbar

It works, but we’ll run out of navbar space eventually. More importantly, every item we add to the navbar makes every existing option less obvious.


A help centre

A help centre is useful when people know what they want to do. The tradeoff is that it’s a lot of work and requires maintenance. A slimmed-down version could be an FAQ page or more details on the pricing page.


The changelog

We could introduce a ‘what’s new’ icon. Less maintenance than a help centre. Great for existing users but useless for future users.

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Slap in the face

We can get more aggressive with our feature updates and slap people in the face...

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A 6-Week Learning Resolution

The basic idea was to pick something we want to learn or write about and then commit to creating and publicly sharing one article a week for 6 weeks.

8 of us ended up joining the group and doing this project together.

The catch was that you had to pay out $100 to the group if you missed a post. The money got divided among the people who did write a post that week.

The money wasn’t the point. It’s just a mechanism to make the whole thing real. To prevent us from all flaking out two weeks in.

We could write about anything we wanted, as long as we picked a theme at the beginning and stuck to it. In alphabetical order, here is what we each wrote about.


Aditya wrote about the economics of agriculture. He explored solutions to the problem presented by the farmer’s protest in India at the moment.

  1. The great Indian agriculture conundrum
  2. The farmer’s backlash is a fight against global...

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Rules For Great Microcopy

⚡️Be specific. “Save” is not the same as “submit.”

⚡️Front-load meaning. Say “Continue,” not “Click to continue.”

⚡️As few words as possible. Never more than 1 sentence.

Microcopy is contextual. That’s why it’s so valuable. It answers very specific questions and speaks to concerns in context. A question that comes up in someone’s mind can be answered right there on the spot.

Great microcopy does these 3 things well:

⚡️It provides clarity, direction and instruction.

⚡️It confirms expectations and provides reassurance for decisions

⚡️ It keeps promises

Testing your interface with people is how you identify where you need microscopy. Watch people use your site, and pay attention to every question and hesitation.

That worst kind of error message is “You can’t do this, but we’re not going to tell you why.”

What’s important is “what has gone wrong and how to fix it”.

You can never...

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What I Learned From My 12 Week CXL Scholarship On Conversion Rate Optimisation

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I got accepted to the CXL Institute’s conversion optimisation mini-degree scholarship program. It claims to be the most thorough conversion rate optimisation training program in the world. The program runs online and covers 78 hours and 59 minutes of content over 12 weeks. As part of the scholarship, I had to write an essay about what I learn each week.

Here is everything I put out

  1. Conversion Optimisation Is About Much More Than Design
  2. Improving Conversion For Small Businesses That Don’t Have Enough Traffic For AB Testing
  3. Use Google Analytics To See Where Your Best Traffic Is Coming From
  4. Conversion Rate Optimisation Only Makes Sense If You Have 1000 Transactions A Month
  5. Building A Micro Funnel: Leads From Your Website In 2 Steps
  6. How Long Do I Need To Run An A/B Test For?
  7. Improving Your Conversion Rate (Part 1)
  8. A Repeatable Metric for Usability
  9. Listening To What People Say
  10. ...

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The Messy Process Of Building Things People Want

When deciding what to make, most people overemphasize delivery and underemphasize discovery. The goals of delivery is to get things out the door as fast as possible. What is the goal of discovery?

The goal of discovery is to avoid spending years working on a product, only to learn at the end that nobody wants it.

A lot of the frustration around this culminated in 2001 with the release of The Agile Manifesto. Agile encourages us to do two things.

  1. Develop in smaller batch sizes. Write code for weeks, not months.
  2. Show it to people and see if you are on the right track.

This was a good step forward.

Around the same time, we started seeing the rise of user experience design and design thinking. We started talking about building empathy for our customers.

Then came the Lean Startup, informed by Steve Blank’s work, and we shifted from asking “Are we building something that customers...

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Optimizing Retention

I got accepted to CXL institutes’ conversion optimisation mini-degree scholarship. It claims to be one of the most thorough conversion rate optimisation training programs in the world. The program runs online and covers 74 hours and 37h minutes of content over 12 weeks. As part of the scholarship, I have to write an essay about what I learn each week. This is my twelfth and final report.

Retention is a measure of how often people come back and use your product after they first sign up. If people don’t stick around after they sign up then any work at the top of the funnel isn’t really going to matter over the long term.

You can spend more on customer acquisition

If you work on your retention you are going to be able to keep more users for longer. This means you can afford the higher cost of acquisition at the top of the funnel and that becomes a competitive advantage.

It improves

...

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Everything I Know About Conversion Rate Optimisation

I got accepted to CXL institutes’ conversion optimisation mini-degree scholarship. It claims to be one of the most thorough conversion rate optimisation training programs in the world. The program runs online and covers 74 hours and 37h minutes of content over 12 weeks. As part of the scholarship, I have to write an essay about what I learn each week. This is my tenth report.

I decided to learn more about conversion rate optimisation because I appreciate objectivity in my work. Designing and building digital products can be a highly subjective process at times. Everyone has an opinion on what needs to be done, no one knows what will work, and it can all get overwhelming at times.

Seven weeks ago I received a scholarship to the CXL institutes’ conversion optimisation mini-degree. It claims to be one of the most thorough conversion rate optimisation training programs in the world. While...

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Improving Your Conversion Rate (Part 2)

I got accepted to CXL institutes’ conversion optimisation mini-degree scholarship. It claims to be one of the most thorough conversion rate optimisation training programs in the world. The program runs online and covers 74 hours and 37h minutes of content over 12 weeks. As part of the scholarship, I have to write an essay about what I learn each week. This is my tenth report.

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In part one of this article, I had a look at what conversion rate optimisation is, I went over what kind of results you can expect from an optimisation program, a framework for thinking about conversion research and the different types of tests there are.

In this article, I will look at how to calculate your conversion rate, how long you need to run tests for, and ideas you can test to get started.

CALCULATING YOUR CURRENT CONVERSION RATE

Before you can track any kind of conversion you have to figure out what...

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Listening To What People Say

I got accepted to CXL institutes’ conversion optimisation mini-degree scholarship. It claims to be one of the most thorough conversion rate optimisation training programs in the world. The program runs online and covers 74 hours and 37h minutes of content over 12 weeks. As part of the scholarship, I have to write an essay about what I learn each week. This is my ninth report.

Untitled design.png

Listening is an important part of building a product people want to use. It won’t solve all your problems but it will give you a clearer picture of what better means to the people that use your product. That might sound simple but it’s not. The concept of better is meaningless outside of the human context it’s being discussed in. Better for who? Better at what? Speaking to people and listening to what they say is a quick and powerful way to answer these questions.

Here is a simple three-step plan for conducting...

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