A few weeks ago I finished my latest round of features based on the feedback I got so far and was ready to do another mini launch (and another and another as Kat from YC describes in this video) and get more feedback before I throw myself at the next set of features.
So I made a post on my personal Facebook profile, asking friends, family and friends of friends to try out the app and give me feedback. There were about 40 downloads following that post, but almost no feedback. A week later I did a post on my LinkedIn, thinking that on a more professional platform people are more likely to give me feedback. Another 40 downloads or so. More crickets.
My focus at this stage is retention not growth, as it doesn’t matter if I will get millions of downloads if no one will get value out of the app over time. However my pretty retention graph showed almost every single one of these people created an event on the first day after downloading and never interacted with the app again. But why?? And why is no one telling me why??
I started actively reaching out to friends asking for feedback. My friends started avoiding me. It was awkward.
Then someone suggested I create a questionnaire. Thank you smart person! Asking for general feedback is demanding too much work, especially if they didn’t like it. A questionnaire is also anonymous so they won’t have to feel uncomfortable giving me bad feedback.
Luckily I’m busy reading The Mom Test and read this important sentence:
Just choose the 3 questions which seem murkiest or most important right now
So I created a google form with 3 questions:
- How much have you used the app: selection 1 to 5
- What is the biggest reason stopping you from using the app: selection out of 4 options plus an open “other”
- The biggest problem with the app is: open text
They are not perfect questions, like I said in my previous post you gotta start somewhere, but what they are is super easy to answer, anonymous. and harsh. I’m NOT fishing for compliments. This is not meant to make me feel good. I already know they aren’t using it. The Mom Test mentions compliments as one of the worst types of feedback by the way, since it doesn’t tell us what to improve. It’s better to face the brutally honest truth than go off in the wrong direction.
In that open text, one dear anonymous friend wrote - it looks kinda boring. BANG. My first reaction was BWAHAHAHA. Yes, I did actually lol. My second reaction was - thank you!! A thousand times thank you!! May you always get to drink your coffee hot! May your nights be uninterrupted! THANK YOU.
Some people hinted it in the past, expressed that the UI isn’t great in a milder manner. Actually scratch that, I realize in hindsight every single person commented on how it looks. Yet it took a blunt anonymous response to get through my thick head. Tamar, your app looks like something an engineer built. So I have my next burning thing, the next major reason people won’t use my product.
Pretty, easy and fun are features. They were always on my list but somehow they got pushed down, deprioritized. So far I’ve been focusing on my messaging and on my unique value proposition, on getting to the point where people are happy to give my product a try based on the description. However now that they do, it needs to be a cool experience. Not a dull one.
So here are my key takeaways about asking for feedback:
Don’t ask for just general feedback. Be specific.
Make it easy for people to answer and to be honest.
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions.
While realizing my app is boring was a bit disheartening - I know the UI isn’t perfect but I didn’t think it was that bad - this was an incredible step forward. And I’m excited for what’s coming - making my app look awesome.