Why observing your users after product launch should be a long term project?

Monitoring a product which has already been launched should not be limited to plugging Analytics. If you really want to be good at something, every now and then you should observe your progress using multiple tools, inspect your strong sides and find room for improvement.

Staying on top of observed changes allows not only to draw conclusions from your actions, but also to master aspects which require polishing. This is the best reason for monitoring everything that you do. But how can you translate this rule into the process of digital product creation? Let’s examine two most frequent scenarios of website and app building.

Photo by Fab Lentz on Unsplash
  1. Support during technical debt repayment

Let’s imagine you hit upon a brilliant idea of an app, so why not go with it? You’ve come up with certain assumptions, concepts, and had this gut feeling. You created a MVP which, pretty quickly and with no validation from real users, evolved into a real product. You haven’t conducted any market research, you don’t know anything for sure, but the service works and you’re waiting until it generates traffic.

Why is it worth observing your users and learn how they act in the virtual world at this stage? There are at least two reasons:

  • quick verification – are we headed the right direction?
  • efficient error spotting – especially those which were made unconsciously

Verifying usability of a product on a larger sample of real users, paired with intuition and a sense of market trends, might allow you to take the product to a higher level of technological development.

 

  1. Put yourself in user’s shoes and see where you should start making fixes.

Another thing is that, usually, you need to start the process of technological debt repayment as soon as the product hits the market. At this point, as the owner of a product, you start noticing all the weak spots of your app, and places where you should start introducing improvements. However, you should also remember that users will most probably not notice the flaws that you’re seeing. Simply because they don’t know the product as well as you do. So maybe while you’re setting a list of priorities, you should make sure what exactly users find hard to use in your app. Then you will be able to eliminate the most crucial constraints, making users happier.

Let’s look at a brief example. You’ve created a CRM for a juice factory. The app itself needs plenty of fixes. However, when you’re observing the behavior of sellers, which in this case are your end-users, you find out that the login form requires zooming up on mobile devices because it’s hard to click on buttons. In consequence, users come across an obstacle even before reaching the actual app.

Thanks to spotting this behavior we’re able to re-prioritize our fixes in such a way that provides end-users with the most comfortable working conditions. In this case the most crucial factor was the fact that users utilize the app on mobile devices while on the road.

Improve, develop, succeed, and have happy users

Even if your project was developed in cooperation with users (you conducted usability research and carried out tests), it’s still worth monitoring their behavior. Thanks to observations, we’re able to picture in real time how the market verifies the usability of the product.

In one of our projects, the process was carried out by the book. We worked iteratively, we did a multitude of tests with users, but in the final production phase, we still came across a problem. Why? Everyone was searching for the solution to the riddle: programmers, administrators, and even account managers were asking clients for feedback to diagnose the problem. Nobody knew what might be the reason of malfunctioning — but users kept reporting problems.

We could not allow ourselves to continue with the testing, so we decided to look into the app from the outside and to employ an analytics tool. After observing several dozen user visits, it turned out that many of them open the app in several tabs, which is causing connection conflicts. Nobody predicted this kind of scenario for a video communication tool. We drew two conclusions from this situation:

  • we’re not able to foresee what users are going to do with our product,
  • the way people move around the internet can be compared to driving a car – after some time we do it instinctively, without reflection, which in turn makes it more difficult to identify the problem relying only on rationalized feedback.
Act like market leaders

Let’s investigate huge platforms such as Facebook or Google, where developers deliver small changes frequently. Their implementation is monitored on a daily basis, starting early in the production phase. Thanks to simultaneously testing the changes with real users (usually a small, carefully selected group), it’s possible to improve the functioning of the platforms without the urge to organize separate research and waiting for results.

Make the happy, happy people

Observing user behavior allows you to save time and optimize your post-production processes. The biggest players on the market exploit and appreciate its potential. If you can eliminate roadblocks faster and in a simple manner and, in effect, boost user satisfaction, why not use such opportunity?


Originally published in polish here 
Translation: Magdalena Sobieszuk