UX Diary Part 5 – Making Good Products Great


A couple of years ago, InVision raised 1.5 m in a round of funding. Today it is undoubtedly one of the leading design and prototyping collaboration tool. When Google was born, it wasn’t the only search engine on the market. However it is now a technology giant.

So you might ask, ‘what was the main factor that set these companies and products apart from the competition?’ The answer lies in the difference between a good product that works, and a great product that not only works but also provides added value and most importantly, feels good to use.

For most web and mobile products, there are certain steps that visitors go through (the funnel) to become regular users of the product.

As I’ve been working more on product development, trying to help make good products great, I had to take a close look at all of the stages of the funnel that users go through, what goals are set and what methods can be used to optimize the experience in each stage. This exercise serves to implement UX optimizations to accelerate product growth.

1. Get Visitors

The user experience begins before users sign up for your website/app … even before they first land on their first page.

Getting users shouldn’t only be about getting traffic, but about knowing your target user. This will help you attract their attention and draw them in. To succeed, keep in mind the following:

  • Be honest and clear. Users have to know what to expect.
  • Keep any web or offline advertising and marketing endeavors focused.
  • Ensure consistency with the look and feel of your website or app .

Once we have high quality user traffic coming to our website, the objective should shift towards converting those site visitors to active members.

2. Activate Members

Activating visitors as members goes way beyond getting their email address! The process has to be customized for the needs of our product, and, more importantly, it should reflect the needs of our users.

For example, Twitter asks users to follow others and make a first tweet as part of the activation process. For other products that include a subscription module, this may include making a payment. Trying to get as many interested visitors through this stage as possible is essential for the success of products. In our case, we must:

  • Have great landing pages. We should not just focus on our home page. Have customized landing pages (ideally focused for each traffic source), with one intuitive call to action and a clear explanation of the product using different media (images, text, or video). Keep in mind the user story starting from a campaign ad. for example.
  • Make sure our activation process includes all the steps that users need before our product becomes useful to them. Some products require a steeper learning curve. If this is the case, then a tour using tooltips, would be great.
  • If we are trying to get users by referral, which a powerful tool especially for direct to customer products, then make sure to include it in this stage. An additional step such as inviting our friends would be great. If we manage to get one or more users per member then we’re likely to be going viral!

3. Retain Users

Retaining users is very often, the most forgotten part of the entire process and this despite being the most important one. Very often, this step boils down to two factors:

  • Desired value provided by the product: We have to give our users what they want – a product that is able to perform the tasks that it is intended to do.
  • The ease of use of the product: Clear user stories and action chains, good navigation and flexible integrations that are needed to enrich and ease the process.

Retained users are the ones who regularly use our product. Optimizing this part of the process is often the most cost-effective way to increase growth and revenue without incurring additional expenditure on advertising. This step is also the make or break scenario for all subscription-based products.

Based on personal experience with fixing low-retention products, I would advise our team to stick to the following steps that I personally consider as being very helpful in such situations:

  • Make sure that we talk to our users and know their expectations. Users who stop using our product may just be disappointed users whom we can win back.
  • Communicate with our exiting users through an exit interview or questionnaire to know the main reason they’re not sticking around.
  • Use general analytics and action-based ones (such as Kiss Metrics) to know what pages or parts of the product are least engaging and try to optimize them. Very often, the flaws are addressed by focusing on fixing usability issues.
  • Go through testing according to the user stories and verifying that the product easily delivers that promised value.

Going through these steps with UX best practices in mind is very important for all UX experts or enthusiasts working on web or mobile products. A product or service can have an offline aspect to it. The experience design and optimization must include that aspect as well.

Building products is one of the most fulfilling things for the creative minds in the digital world, and topping them with great user experience design in all stages and aspects of product development brings about that much-deserved satisfaction.

Incorporating UX in all stages of product development – from the planning phase, side by side with the business and project plans, to design, execution, optimization, and growth is essential. This is something that all UX enthusiast must be mindful of. In this way they will be enhancing the contribution that they are giving to the product and set it on its way to success.

Final Thoughts

This brings us to the last installment of this series. I hope that it has inspired you to make products and solutions that simply feel great to use. Please be sure to check out the whole series of articles as you’ll find some useful information and tips to apply. If you have any comments or feedback, or you have used any of the tips discussed in this series in your workplace, please be sure to let me know in the comments section below.

About this series – UX Diary

As a UX enthusiast and a front-end engineer I have decided to try and truly bring UX best practices to the organization that I work in. UX diary is a small series of 5 articles documenting this journey with all of its lessons and bumps that I am hoping can help and inspire you, fellow UX enthusiasts to adopt and spread UX awareness in your work and organizations. Read the articles by clicking on the links below: