Finding That 1% - How Do You Optimise an Already Great Product?
So you’ve got a digital product out there in the wild. It might be a mobile app or piece of software, something customers have already gotten their hands on. To make sure it stays current and attracts new customers, you need to keep it updated.
Alternatively, you might have something you already think is great and feel updates are unnecessary…but then users start dropping off, or software updates break your app, or a competitor launches something better…now what do you do? In both cases, here’s a simple truth: no product can succeed in this fast-moving world without an ongoing effort to optimise it against changing user behaviours. So how do you make your product better? If you’re convinced it’s great, where do you find the room to improve it? Well…
Finding the 1%
There’s no such thing as perfect. Even the best app in the world will have room for improvement. Finding it is a case of taking a step back and assessing your product, business situation and customers. The smallest changes can make a big difference – load speeds, button responsivity, menu structure etc. Each can drive tiny gains in overall user experience - with even a 1% gain worth pursuing. While that 1% might not be worth much to smaller businesses, it can be huge for larger ones with a large user base. A 1% increase in conversions for a £10m e-commerce app would bring an additional £100,000. The 1% of a digital product doesn’t have to be tied to a specific profit figure or monetary value. It really just means identifying the areas where changes will deliver improvements, no matter how small. Consider areas such as:
Have you kept up with your user interviews post-launch? Acting on outdated user information might lead to stalled update cycles that don’t add value. If it’s been a year since your product launched, re-interview your users and discover tangible insights based on real product interactions.
Creativity is a hard thing to define – but when you boil it down, it’s really just a system for problem-solving. In some apps that are already performing well, bringing some creativity to bear with a novel new idea can delight customers and increase the app’s overall performance. It’s all well and good to tell you to be ‘novel’ - but how do you come up with an idea if it’s new to the market? Run a workshopping session with user research as input, but also consider the system you’re designing for and how you can best utilise new features. For example, Telegram’s recent update took advantage of Android’s multi-SIM functionality by allowing users to have multiple accounts on the same device and made it easy to set up and switch between numbers. A small change that likely only affects a tiny percentage of users, but a novel one that embraces Android’s system quirks.
Lots of great digital products fail to systemise their update process. Instead, brands default to rushed retroactive activity based on system updates, bugs or user complaints. This means you’re always on the back foot and working to ‘fix’ something, rather than delivering any form of innovation or adding value. To get on the right path, you must build an update process into your product management team’s mindset. Updates should be regular and based on key rationale such as user data, system updates, error logs etc.
In action: Apple shows hows it’s done
Even when a product is first to market or totally transforms society in a new way, it can’t just rest on its laurels. The business behind it must begin to iterate, update and tweak from the get-go, or they are doomed to fail.
Apple clearly understood this when they launched the first iPhone in 2007. While mainstream media sites such as CNET and the New York Times called it ‘amazing’, there was some criticism of missing features. Apple didn’t ignore this and began to systemise its update process. They began by adding these missing features, but they didn’t stop there. Their update process prioritised the release of new iterations of the iPhone, each one using up-to-date user data and demand to give customers what they wanted. The new releases, even though they were similar to previous iPhones, still ended up breaking sales records and enticing users to buy again. In Apple’s case, the continual optimisation of their product led to a loyal customer base who always demand the next big thing. Each new iPhone may not ‘fix’ everything in the past version, but they do bring new features and functions that delight the fans – even when they have begun to doubt that there’s anything left to improve on.
1% = Minimal effort & maximum reward
Apple’s update cycle isn’t truly about 1% – each new iPhone model does bring plenty of new features and design tweaks. However, it is a great example of how a great product can be made even better thanks to its team. The real value of any update is weighed against the effort it takes to launch it. If you’ve followed the tips above and have systemised iteration based on up-to-date user research and creativity, each update cycle should be more efficient and bring higher rewards. If you’re lacking innovation in your team or want an outside opinion, work with KOMODO in our Refinement Track. We’ll take your existing product, assess it against customer needs and readdress your UX design and functionality to create something that will drive increased commercial results.
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