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Startup Lessons: The Importance of Listening to Our Early Adopters

October 8th, 2010 | by Alexandra Dao

posted in Company

As a startup that’s still in private beta, we rely heavily on feedback from our early adopters to figure out what new features to build, and what existing features may need to be, shall we say, reworked.

Based on recent feedback we’ve completely revamped our homepage and the account creation process, plus we’ve made a few more changes to the user experience overall. There’s still more work to be done, but with our early adopters’ input, we think we’re headed in the right direction.

Here are couple of things we’ve changed this past week.

Homepage/Invite Landing Page

This was what new users used to see when they received an invitation from a friend, it’s basically the same as our normal homepage with some extra information about the friend who sent the invitation:

Pretty cluttered, and the messaging was confusing. A lot of our new users were left scratching their heads and wondering “What’s the benefit? What’s in it for me?”

Here’s our updated invite landing page:

It’s cleaner, we got rid of the confusing counter, and we think we’ve done a better job of explaining what benefits you’ll get from downloading and using Wajam.

The homepage redesign was about more than just changing the design, it was an opportunity for us to revisit our message and value proposition which, frankly, we had been struggling with. Whenever we explained Wajam to someone in person they got it, but when we tried to distill what Wajam was down to one sentence on our homepage it was inevitably long, awkward and difficult to understand. So we took the opportunity to really simplify our message, and focus on what a user would get out of Wajam. Iit’s still a work in progress and we expect to continue making changes, but in the meantime we’re pretty happy with the new homepage.

Sign up process

Before when a new user created an account, we asked them to import their bookmarks, link their Twitter account (if they didn’t already sign up with Twitter), and find and invite friends. Our reasoning was that we wanted to make sure a new user had enough sources so they could start seeing Wajam results when they googled, but the feedback we got was that the process was just way too long. Not to mention confusing. The words “information overload” came up a few times.

Take a look for yourself:

Admittedly, there was a lot going on.

So to simplify the process we decided to remove these steps and to simply show a welcome message explaining how Wajam integrates with Google search results and the browser, as well as instructions for adding more sources.

Automatic Twitter links from popular accounts

To give new users an even better first experience, we’ve been working on our back-end to start storing links from popular Twitter accounts like @TechCrunch and @Mashable so new users who are following them will automatically have these links in their Wajam results.

Our process for aggregating links from Twitter accounts involves receiving all of an account’s tweets, filtering just the ones that contain links, and then crawling those links in order to make these sites searchable. Not exactly an instant process, so this new change will dramatically improve a first time user’s experience. Now a new user can start to play around with their Wajam results right away, while we work to import more links from their Twitter stream in the background.

Google Instant

If you’re using Google Instant, Wajam will now start showing results after you stop typing.

New message the first time you search with Wajam

Another small change we made to improve a user’s first time experience was adding a message to a their first Wajam search results to explain that we’re importing their links, and that they can improve their results by adding sources.

Wajam in a Nutshell emails

We added a short explanation to the Wajam in a Nutshell emails so our users can know exactly what they’re receiving, and why.

What do you think?

We’re hoping all of these changes will add up to a better experience overall. We’re eager to hear what you have to say and we’ll continue to make improvements based on your feedback. It’s really important for us to listen to our users since the reality is, it’s difficult for us to remain objective as we work on Wajam and if our users feel ownership over Wajam that’s a win for us. At the end of the day, we’re not making Wajam for us, we’re making it for you.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to send us their feedback! Let us know what you think of our changes by commenting or emailing us at feedback@wajam.com.

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