Lean Products = Faster Adoption

Photo Credit: Simon Peckham

Building a startup is challenging…consumer facing, enterprise or some other product type, you need customers/users to turn your startup into a business.  Most new internet based business models aren’t even relevant until the product reaches some type of critical mass.  If that is the case, you better start building fast…because since you can’t depend on cash flow to sustain your business, you’re talking about burning investment money one day at a time in pursuit of profit.

Figuring out how to create “viral adoption” is the now the holly grail of user acquisition.  A strategic invite feature hear, some gaming elements there, don’t forget to connect to Facebook and Twitter…all are method of helping create faster adoption with internet products.  However, what many fail to understand and what I am learning as I help design a product for my new startup, is it’s by far more important to adopt a “lean product” methodology first and think about user acquisition later.  Instead of thinking…”how do I get users to use my product“…think…”how do I eliminate all reasons not to use my product”.  It’s a small but extremely important distinction to make.  Be minimalistic…and don’t build something that sucks (the robust platform and the incredible product will come as your gain adoption).

As my startup goes deeper into the prototype build out we have been finding more reasons to do less.  For example, we have been thinking about building a specific feature that helps our customers communicate with businesses in a way that has not yet been explored.  However, we found that this feature will require a certain level of product adoption before it adds real value to our users.  By walking through a user case we have found that this feature will most likely create too much mass and noise in the early stages; this is the time when the user’s goal on the platform should be dead simple to identify.  By creating this feature too early we will give our users another feature to manage and might not fulfill their exceptions…potentially giving them one good reason not to use our product.

Our product team and myself has found a few other examples just like this…which has been effectively moving us to a leaner product and hopefully less reasons to say no and one great reason to say yes.  By reducing the moving parts you maintain clarity of focus and thereby will minimize objections to your product and increase the chances to create a positive network effect

…make it a no brainer.

Photo Credit: Simon Peckham

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2 Responses

11.19.10

Nicely put. Especially like the point about features as noise that slow user adoption.

11.19.10

Thanks Ron…I believe noise not only stifles user adoption because the product then becomes overwhelming and less valuable…but it deters the user from reaching the main purpose of being on the site/ app.

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