Why You Should Experiment with User Onboarding

(Kevin Dewalt, Founder of All Aboard!, is constantly helping startups 1-to-1. When he’s not angel investing or playing golf, he’s always available to help out someone just getting started with lean startup. So I reached out to him to chat about his approach to user onboarding. You can find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or his blog)

Like Tristan, I’m a big advocate of systematically building a company using Lean Startup techniques. On the surface, they are trivially simple - like interviewing customers before building a product.

But as most Lean Startups quickly discover, identifying customer needs and building a product that satisfies them are just the beginning. You still have to get customers to find your product, understand how it fits into their lives, start using it and ... hope hope hope ... pay you for the opportunity.

That is, you have to sell. We’re advocates of a technique that bridges the gap between early Customer Development and traditional sales: concierge onboarding.

Concierge Onboarding Continues Customer Learning

**Concierge onboarding is helping a customer, 1-on-1, so he can get value from being your user.** In simpler terms, getting users on the phone so they’ll actually use your friggin’ product.

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Putting User Insights Into Context

(This is a guest post by Michael Bamberger. He is the co-founder of Alpha UX, a real-time user insights platform for enterprise product teams. I reached out to chat about his approach for generating user insights for new products. You can find him on Twitter or Linkedin.)

Seeking out and applying ‘best practices’ is a tried and true strategy. Unfortunately, when trying to apply what has worked well for others, many product teams end up dogmatically following instead of contextualizing for their specific case. It is rare for best practices to be universally applicable in all contexts and scenarios. Rather than focusing on what other people are doing in a vacuum, instead seek to understand and implement the principles and methodologies that led to those outcomes.

Generating user insights is no different. There are few, if any, practices that should be applied universally. Each organization - and even each team within - must construct a practice that aligns with their business objectives and target market. What might be a profound insight for one team could be utterly meaningless for another. In my experience, there are three common occurrences that can trip up otherwise diligent product teams. Watch out for these when interpreting insights.

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Hi.P.P.O - Highest Paid Person 's Opinion

In Defense of the Hi.P.P.O

The Hippo is a much maligned creature. Forever scorned by data scientists and UX professionals.

Hi.P.P.O stands for the Highest Paid Person's Opinion. It's a time honored way of making decisions which goes back centuries.

If a decision has to be made, the boss' opinion wins. After all, there must be some reason they get paid more!

If we're deciding between a red button and a blue button for our Call-To-Action, don't test, just ask Hi.P.P.O! There's even a SaaS web site dedicated to asking Hi.P.P.Os.

Personally, I don't mind the Hi.P.P.O. Sometimes I have to bow before the Hi.P.P.O. Sometimes am the Hi.P.P.O.

What I truly fear is the Z.E.B.R.A (More on that below.)

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“Which Experiment Should We Run?” – 8 minute video

Figuring out which experiment or research we should run starts by laying out our assumptions and learning priorities. The Real Startup Book helps us organize our assumptions and learning priorities by asking two key questions:

Which type of information are we gathering: Generative or Evaluative? What are we learning about: Market (aka, Customer) or Product?

Here's a short 8-minute video where we walk through the different parts of the Real Book and list out relevant experiment and research techniques:

You can download a copy of The Real Strartup Book here.

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Picnic in the Graveyard

Generative Research: Picnic in the Graveyard

What features should we build? What's the feature set for our MVP? There are a lot of questions we need to answer before we write a single line of code.

This isn't about testing a hypothesis, this is about generating ideas. I've mentioned the difference between Generative Research and Evaluative Testing in lean startup before.

If we know our goal is to generate ideas, there a variety of methods you can use in the Real Startup Book. One of my favorite generative research techniques was told to me by Sean K. Murphy and covered in his post on pretotyping:  Picnic in the Graveyard

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