Figuring out what to work on next.
A friend of mine just started a Yoga-based startup and they’ve just launched. they have a million things to do he was asking me how I prioritize what to do with the product when there’s so much that needs to be done.
As I write this we have a backlog with about 160 things that need to be done at Chirr App. The way we’re tackling it at the moment is to use product analytics to identify where the biggest problems are first. Asking what we should focus on without some understanding of where the biggest problems are is meaningless.
Use quant data to find the best point of leverage
You can use quantitative metrics to build an ideal path through your product. Conversion rate optimizers end the path at the point of sale or conversion. product managers take the critical path deeper towards active usage or referral. I’m not sure there is a correct place to end your funnel. Two important things to keep in mind are the point at which your user gets value out of your product, and the point where you make money as a product. Conversations about the nature of value are inherently messy so I’m not going to get into it here. All I will say is that you will probably never arrive at an exact definition of what this means in your product, but that should stop you from working a clear measurable definition of what we’re talking about.
Coming back to what we should be working on next, wherever you decide to end your funnel/s, quantitative analytics will show where the biggest drop-offs are. there are the junctures where a small improvement can lead to a massive effect and these should be the areas you are paying attention to first. At least that’s the way we’re thinking about it at the moment.
Rank your best guesses of why the problem exists
You have a 70% at the 4th step on your onboarding funnel. Why do we think this is happening?
- The button might be broken on some browsers, have we checked?
- Maybe the value of proceeding is not clear at this step.
- Maybe there are too many options at this juncture and it’s confusing.
- Maybe there are too many steps
- Maybe we just don’t come off as a legit operation at this point and people change their minds.
- Maybe our marketing language and our in-product messaging are really different and people feel like they’re in the wrong place.
Everyone has ideas on why things are broken. Most people like to jump to step 3 and start talking about how we’re going to fix things. I think it’s really important to establish all the reasons why we think something is broken before we start talking about how to fix it.
The reason for this is that when a solution works, a clear understanding of what the problem was, allows you to double down and make the solution even better.
For example, if you decide to fix the dropoff at step 4 by hiring a copywriter to improve the writing on the page and it works, then you can’t push it further.
On the other hand, if you think the problem was that people just didn’t understand how the product works, and a copywriter helped clarify that then you can double down on this and put a video explainer together, maybe add testimonials about someone talking about how they figured out what it does, more images with different use cases, etc.
If you find a high leverage problem, and you get a clear lock on what the issue is then you want to fix the shit out of it before you move on. Don’t waste time making random inconsequential tweaks to the product when you have the opportunity to have a real impact.
Start with the simplest solution
Most of your solutions won’t work, and most of the reasons why you think the problem exists will be wrong. This is just the nature of the beast. rather than trying relying on an oracle to find the solution, a more sustainable solution to put the legwork in and test out as many different reasons that a problem might exist as quickly as possible.
If you managed to crowdsource 15 different reasons why there’s a massive dropoff at step 4 from your team, you want to shortlist the top 5 and test them all rather than sink a month of work into a redesign that turns out to have zero impact.
There’s a concept in medicine called the minimum effective dose. Basically don’t take 800 mg of medicine if 250 mg will work. The same goes for product work, you want to do the smallest, minimum amount of work to get the insight you’re looking for.
Resources are always scarce so you want to get as many shots in with the time and energy you have. Once you know what moves the needle then you can safely invest a chunk of time into a better solution now that you understand what actually matters.