The Revolutionary Pied Piper Platform
I watch a few shows quite religiously and HBO's Silicon Valley is one of them on my summer list. In a nutshell, the show is about a group of engineers starting their own company—Pied Piper—with a revolutionary data compression algorithm, and the plot revolves around all the good, the bad, and the ugly a startup can encounter and then some more.
(Spoilers ahead, but seriously watch the show if you're interested; it's pretty good)
Towards the end of this latest season, they finally launched their Platform app after a round of Beta testing with great, positive feedback. It was one of the most glorious moments 3 seasons in; Pied Piper was on everyone's lips and they reached 500,000 downloads in no time. However, they soon realized they're in deep water since their daily active user is only a scary 3.8% (which means no one is really using it). They are failing miserably and they have no idea why.
“But it says 0 KB used!”
What exactly went wrong here? The app itself works great. In fact, it's more than great; it's revolutionary. The platform stores all the files in the Cloud and allows the users to access them on any of their connected devices automatically without further actions; there are no downloads, no space hogging, and no headaches. The technology is obviously not the problem here; the problem is they failed to convey that value to their users. In other words, their users don't get it.
Through a focus group they put together the team learned that one participant couldn't get over the fact that it says “0 KB used” on his phone despite he could see all his photos, and another complained about the missing download button on the platform interface when that action is not at all required. What about the successful Beta testing? It turned out the beta accounts were sent to mostly engineers which did not represent the major target audience.
Put A Big Spot Light on the Value for Your Users
While writing this post I was surprised to find out, rather than just a goofy TV plot, this is actually quite common among the tech world. It raised a very valuable point that, besides all the amazing designs and engineering work, perhaps getting users to recognize the benefits and shorten the time to value is the most important piece of the puzzle.
At Rapid7 not only do we start our projects with the story-first approach by focusing on solving specific customer problems in a measurable way, we highlight the values it brings and convey clearly to our customers how they can benefit from it. We understand it is equally important to recognize the benefits aside from getting them, and we make sure the acknowledgement is tied into the overall user experience.
First Impression Is Important, but It Should Not End There
There are a few ways to achieve it, and having a good first time user experience (FTUX) is always a big win. Not only does it provide your audience a good first impression, it is a great way to guide them through the experience; it can easily become a sustainable system to continuously offer good support when done right. To save Pied Piper and the app, Richard the CEO decided to set up live seminars to teach people how to use the app. He also consulted an agency and spent every last cent they had left on the ultimate solution—Pipey.
Yes, I was probably laughing way harder than I should have at this point of the show and finally stopped trying to come up with other possible solutions in my head. Of course this is just a TV show, but for what it's worth this perfectly portrays how without proper planning, the solution for improving user experience would most likely be an unpleasant add-on.
From telling the right stories, solving the right problem for the right audience, to introducing that value to your users smoothly involve tremendous efforts across many teams. However, the outcome is tremendously rewarding, and your users will truly appreciate the hard work.