Users are the holy grail. A product team will give up everything on its quest to gain just one more user. Once signed up, they’ll do anything to keep that user. This also includes pleasing the user by honouring their feedback and feature requests. Sometimes, this feedback can not only ruin your app, but also break the flow for other users as well.

Focus on your vision

Often, the features customers request are a mash-up of their limited design know-how, external image of your product, and their own personal pain point. Users are not knowledgeable of your product vision, what features you have on the cutting room floor, or what can be technically possible. As a product design team, it is important to take every user’s feedback and requests objectively, doing your best to put it in a frame that also matches your product’s vision. This does not mean block out all feature requests. Some requests will line up in perfect harmony with your product vision and goals and you just have to assimilate them.

At some point, our users requested a single app that would contain all GCSE subjects. The natural response is to comply. But considering data costs, and the number of people who take certain subjects, we did not follow this request. Doing so would have negatively impacted more users than would be pleased by a single, large app download.

Do not umbrella users

Every product has several user pools. As you collect user feedback, be careful not to mix a user who has used your product for months with a new user who simply signed up to look up a fact during an argument with a friend. There are also loyal customers who use a specific feature only and loyal customers who use most features in your product. You need to group each user under their specific category and not umbrella all of them.

Here is how you should try to group user feedback and apply it to product development:

  • New users will give you feedback relevant to improving your on-boarding and sign-up process.
  • Have a way to track who uses what feature and only use their feedback with regards to improvement of that feature.
  • Sometimes people do not use a feature. Talk to them to find out why. Be sure you followed the design guidelines for your specific audience.
  • To improve your overall product, talk to active users who use all of your product features.

Sometimes, I do not know what I want

This is an extreme example, but sometimes your users will complain that the sign-up process on your news app is not user friendly. What they may be asking is for you to remove the signup process entirely. Does your news app require a signup process at all? Are you providing any user specific or personalised content? If not, why do you need to have people signup to read the news?

Going back to the days when people rode horses everywhere, asking them what they wanted, they would say faster horses. More often than not, customers have the ostensible inability to verbally correctly express their unmet needs for innovative products. What people actually meant to communicate was that they needed faster transportation. Something faster and more efficient than a horse.

Your users may sometimes complain that a certain feature is hidden, or too complex to use. Your natural response is to find a way to create a simpler user experience around that product. This will take your several weeks and a significant budget, when in turn, you could have just found a way to make the flow around that specific feature easier to re-do, instead of a full simplified redesign.

Keep the conversation going

When you roll out a new feature, the natural way to handle feedback is ask each user as they try the feature. But what if the feature degrades over time or has a negative impact on another feature? This leaves you with a scenario where you collect new users based on the cool new feature but lose loyal long-term users. To solve this problem, have periodic check-ins with customers. Check with them at signup, after two weeks, one month, two months and so on.

What our own apps do, is track launch count, time spent in a specific part of the app and then marrying this to user feedback. This way, we are able to develop new features, improve existing ones and keep long term users happy while wooing new users.

Do not follow fads

The YoMix app has the following services: YoMix, Airtime Recharge, Share Airtime, Pre-Set Bundles, Borrow Airtime, Gifts, Over scratched Cards. And a Fuel Finder feature. What is that even doing there? From what we can tell, someone picked up on the “People need to find fuel” fad and placed it into the wrong app. The feature itself is a great feature, but it is not at home in this app.

This is an example of a fad that was picked on and followed blindly at the expense of a product’s vision. Be careful not to follow fads. You will often be left with maintaining a feature that people stop using after a short period.

That’s it from me for now, see you next time and keep talking to your users.