There are three ways to improve a product or feature; you can make it better so that current customers enjoy it more (Deliberate Improvement), change it so that people use it more often (Frequency Improvement), or change it so that more people use it (Adoption Improvement).
As Des Traynor, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom writes, “Not all improvements will be appreciated by all users, and it’s important to understand where the opportunities for real improvements are within your product.” As is the case with everything in software, there are tradeoffs. Recognizing these tradeoffs, and the effect they’ll have on your audience, can help you prioritize your course of action.
1. Deliberate Improvement
With a deliberate improvement, you pick a popular feature, find out how customers are using it, why they love it, and then determine how you can make improvements for that specific job. Here you are seeking only to make the feature better in ways that will be appreciated by the current users.
You might be thinking that sounds a lot like fixing something that’s not broken. That’s a good watchout to have. In order to avoid adding unnecessary complexity with your new feature or taking a step backward, Traynor stresses the importance of really understanding why and how the feature is used. Here, he explores this idea in more depth and gives a real-life example of deliberate improvements made on Intercom.
2. Frequency Improvement
These are improvements that aim to get a customer to use a feature more often. For example, a fitness app feature that rewards people every time they check into a gym is a type of improvement could turn a once-a-week user into an everyday user. Here is some great advice on how to hook users with habit-forming UX design.
3. Adoption Improvement
Adoption improvements target those who don’t use a feature. For example, if you have a social media integration that only half of your user base is using, an adoption improvement aims to win over the remainder. Traynor writes, “When you hear phrases like ‘I’ll use this as soon as I can…’, then an adoption improvement might help.”
Understanding the different ways your product can improve, and how such improvements will help different parts of your audience, will help you better prioritize your course of action for improving your product. Successfully executing a product improvement can lead to higher engagement, an increase in revenue, better user experiences, more repeat business, higher average orders per customer, or longer retention. In addition to the immediate benefits, it can also be a great way to get some quick “innovation wins” that could help unlock other innovation projects or increase your budget,