Category Archives: Product Development

Getting into our users (product analysis)

To better understand how our users are working with our product, we are aggressively trying to contact them by phone to get interviews. At the same time, we are also attempting to build in data analysis into our product offering. These data analysis stem from a set of metrics that we have designed. This set of metrics is designed to extract the value that we have created rather than the value we have extracted from our users. This will give us a better grasp of how our product is doing in generating value for our users.

Benefit-Driven Metrics

Inspiration: Andrew Chen Benefit-Driven Metrics: Measure the live you save, not the life preservers you sell.

Idea: Value creation generates revenue and traffic. Therefore, do no focus inwards on self-interested gain, focus on value creating for customers.

User benefits metrics:
1. Organizers:

  1. Want people to view their event. [measure # of click through per event from home page]
  2. Want people to recommend it to their friends [measure # of source from friend’s newsfeed to other means to enter our site] NB. Against all other ways to enter the site, eg. from direct link we place on BBS/we give to friends
  3. Want to know if people will RSVP/like their organized event through our site [#actions towards like or join/total number of people who visit the site]

2. Users:

a)     Want to know if their friends have signed up. [track the evolution of people signing up over the duration which the event is on the page]

b)     Want an events management page [track # times a user goes into his ‘profile’ every time he enters the site]

c)     Want to find an event that he can go to [% of times he entered the site and actually signing up to any event]

d)     Finds it a good site to search for events [# of times per day a unique user revisits the site]

e)     Site is attractive enough to keep user interested [average length of time a user spends on the site]

Product metrics:

  1. Google map feature vs poster wall feature [# of click through to events from map/# click through to events from poster wall]
  2. Other features which might be interesting later on eg calendars.
  3. Flow of user [what is the fist click and last click of each user before he leaves the site and length of stay in the site]
  4. Individual page views  [# of views per page/total # of views]

Other metrics:

  1. Efficiency of user acquisition/ Virality coefficient [# of source from friend’s newsfeed to # of source from our provided site link]
  2. Unique visitors per day
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Product Development update

Some updates on our product development:

Main milestones:

1. We’ve passed renren’s verification and is out on the app store on renren.com. This was done last week!

2. We’ve gotten feedback from users on our beta test app. We’re now in the process of upgrading our app and in the process of marketing. Stay tuned for our marketing campaign!

 

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Update on server relocation

The story of our server relocation is as follows:

Initially, we were unfortunate enough to pick a vendor that had very poor customer support, and we ran into a lot of troubles in the relocation. The call center was unresponsive to our phone calls and the relocation was unsuccessful. Due to pressing time concerns, we immediately bought a new server with a vendor in Hong Kong, and worked to get the app up and running again before the weekend was up. We are proud to say that our app is back and running again as of last night.

The following is a quick analysis of our users hit rate starting from our first day of  launch through our server relocation period. We are now waiting with anticipation to see the hit rate rise after our server problem is fixed!

We have also gotten initial user testing with our app after the server relocation. Generally, users find that the app now loads faster, mainly because of slower server lag time between Hong Kong and China, as opposed to US and China as before. We are currently in the process of informing renren.com about our server relocation.

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Technical Setback

We have just received notice from renren.com that the server we are hosting our app on, godaddy.com, is too slow. This is because godaddy.com is hosted over here in the US, and a worry is that when we gather traction, users will experience severe lags which are undesirable.

The team sees this as a problem as well and are currently moving quickly to solve the problem. We have just purchased a server space over in a datacenter at Hong Kong. This may set-back our user-development by a few days, but we recognize this as a necessary action. We will continue to do testing with our test-group over here in Stanford in these few days while we shift our server over to Hong Kong.

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Beta Testing of product & Interactions with renren.com

After almost two full weeks of product/customer development work, where the team met for 10-15 hours everyday to work, we finally managed to get the product up and running! We have just entered our first batch of beta testing of our app, with the list of people who have agreed to be our initial test users.

Also, through our relationship building with the app processing manager at renren.com, we have been given a rather unique position. He has currently given us total freedom to test our app with our initial 4 schools. Once our app is widely adopted in the beta testing, approval to be launched on the app store to be made available to all other 100 schools in China will be simple.

We are currently in the process of collecting the initial test user feedback, but the main ones that we have been hearing are compatibility issues with the mainstream browsers in China. Even though we have tried hard to ensure that these does not happen, we know that we could not have covered all grounds. We will be working to fix these compatibility issues in our first update of the app.

The following is our updated product development timeline.

 

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One possible competition: School Forums (BBS) Analysis

From our interviews, we found that one of the major online source of information for school events is the school forum, or better known amongst China students as BBS. We set out to find if there are problems with this existing channel which we can better with our product.

First, we visited the 4 BBS of our initial target school. The following is a screen shot of their individual BBS put together.

 

The first things that anyone would notice is the following: – It is too cluttered and messy! It is pretty much a list of hyperlinks, a thing you would find familiar on something like CraigsList. It is thus no surprise that amongst those we interviewed, the reaction was the same. That BBS contains all the information that is happening in the school, and that it does not make any distinction between events, people selling items, or just students who want to find an avenue to rant about stuff.

Also, apart from it being too cluttered, we find that such listing lack the following:

1) No social influence: It does not show you who has attending what event. That was why after finding out an event, we find that a student often has to use other means of social media to figure out if his/her friends are going to the event.

2) No events management: Once a student decides to go to one of the events listed, he/she has to write it down somewhere as a reminder.

3) No place to look for sponsors: The college BBS serves as a platform for promotion of activities, and not a place to look for sponsors. The major pain point of events hosts are not solved when listing on these sites.

From the above analysis, we came out with the following verdict:
The college BBS is a good listing for everything happening in school, and it remains as such. Our app that we are developing provides value both on the social and events management front, which are lacking in the college BBS. From our prior interviews, we find that these are actually issues that users are concerned with, and we are happy in the direction our app is going.

Also, we can use the college BBS to our advantage. It serves as a very good place for us to find events that are happening and seek out the events organizers to try using our app in the initial phase of promotion of our app.

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Contact with Renren.com

We have been pushed to get more contacts from renren.com to ensure a safe passage for our app to be approved. This is so that we will not waste time on the app approval process, and/or develop an app that will not be approved by renren in the first place.

We have identified several key people in charge of our app development and reached out to them.

As of yesterday, we’ve gotten the following people as personal contacts and our key takeaways from the chat sessions with them.

1) Product development manager:
A chat session with him revealed that our app for school events aggregation is highly encouraged by renren.com

2) App approval manager:
We have finally established a personal contact with the manager directly in charge of the approval of our app. He has promised us a one-day approval process on the day we submit the complete MVP for approval. We have done 2 chat sessions with him and tried to comply with all the requirements that renren imposes on its apps. Will be looking forward to a really smooth approval process upon submission.

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