What’s the next version of our product going to look like? Almost every entrepreneur faces this question at one time or another – and maybe many times a year. Sometimes the answer is easy, but other times it’s much more complicated, taking the form of a massive overhaul.
Our team chose the second option, and we learned some incredibly valuable insights.
By early 2013 we had raised $1.8 million and built an incredible network of passionate users across 175 countries. We launched an activities booking platform in the summer of 2012 but knew very soon that we would have to make changes to the product to continue to grow and build traction.
So what was next? This was a tough call.
When you find yourself at a fork in the road, this is where you have to combine your gut feeling with cold logic. You have to stay true to your passion and your vision, but also listen to what target users want.
Talk To Your Audience
Figure out what your target audience and existing users are actually doing, what they need, what they already have… In other words, conduct user research.
We were lucky to work with Michael Margolis from Google Ventures User Research and Design team. Here is a great quick tutorial he did for GV portfolio companies:
We went to hostels and hotels, talked to hundreds of travelers, showed them our product, showed them competitors’ products and asked a lot of questions. I went through thousands of data points and interactions between our users to figure out HOW exactly they were using our product.
After a few grueling weeks, we started seeing patterns in feedback and research. Our conclusion was that having the local "know-how" was an absolute must for all travelers, but they wanted it "on the go", available within the next few hours, and didn’t always have the luxury of time to plan everything ahead.
Think of Many Different Paths
Come up with multiple hypotheses for the next iteration of your product based on user research. After talking to a few hundred people we came up with a dozen or so ideas. Some were great and others, in retrospect, not so much… Which is why next step is extremely important before coding.
Test, Test, Test!
Create high fidelity prototypes in keynote or powerpoint and test, test, test. There was no way we could actually fully build all of these products, so we prototyped them in keynote. Here is another great tutorial blog from Google Ventures design team on how to ideate and then test high fidelity prototypes in keynote. We invited people to come and test every iteration of every prototype…
Throughout this process we arrived to our new app Wist – a mobile app that gives personalized recommendations for top local spots on the go.
It combines contextual data with user’s interests, what’s popular among locals and friends’ data to come up with the best recommendations. We stayed true to our original mission of helping our users feel like a local in a new neighborhood in their own city and in a far away land, but we changed the approach.
Lastly, never stop asking for feedback! So please, check out Wist and send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
About the guest blogger: Aigerim Shorman (@aigerimd) is co-founder and CEO of Triptrotting. Prior to Triptrotting she was Teach For America corps member in Los Angeles and investment banking analyst at UBS. Aigerim is originally from Kazakhstan and is an avid world traveler.