Learn what your best users are doing with your product

In a good Founder’s Notebook post on setting priorities in product development Ben Yoskovitz recommends that founders:

learn as quickly as you can what your best users are doing in your product

That’s great advice. Having a core group of passionate users with a well understood use case is a great sign that a company is on the right path and will make investors love you. Hence it makes sense to understand whether you have such a group and what they are doing. Sounds obvious, yet few entrepreneurs who talk with us can articulate their core user stories clearly.

The reason, I think, is because it’s a tough thing to do. At the early stages most companies haven’t yet got good enough analytics to easily see what different groups of users are doing there’s a strong temptation to focus on growth on the basis that so long as growth keeps coming everything will be ok. There’s truth in that, but focusing on growth alone won’t get you to your full potential.

Hacks for learning what your best users are doing before great analytics are implemented include eyeballing activity on a user by user basis and looking for patterns amongst the most active users, and interviewing a selection of your best customers. The insights gleaned will help shape the product roadmap to maximise the size and engagement of that core user group.

Yoskovitz’s post also advises focusing the whole team on one product development priority at a time and not getting spread too thin. Also great advice. I love it when I hear that a company has identified one metric it wants to improve and will drive change in a short period of time – say six weeks – before moving onto the next priority. Do it that way and the top ten metrics will all have improved significantly in just over a year and overall progress will be rapid.