Article

10min read

Use Case User Onboarding: What Impact Do Release Teams Have on UX?

According to a PWC survey, one in three customers would leave a brand after just one bad experience. Hence, your company may invest a lot of time and money optimizing your digital product to stay relevant in today’s often crammed markets.

A critical part of the overall product experience is user onboarding: get it right and win loyal customers, but get it wrong and lose those users forever.

So it makes sense to continuously tweak the user onboarding process – the perfect job for a product team. Such a team often consists of 5 to 8 people, including product managers, designers, and developers. Different companies work with various product team sizes and configurations – whatever is best for their use case. However, we rarely see DevOps engineers in these teams because many view DevOps as just a vehicle for successful feature releases. 

Ultimately, however, these DevOps engineers have to get up at night to fix a newly deployed feature that crashes the app every time a user navigates through the onboarding process.

We want to ask you: Can an app whose onboarding process doesn’t work technically be successful, and do release teams significantly impact UX after all? Let’s find out.

 

In this article, we’ll be exploring how to:
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Make users feel right at home with a great onboarding experience

Most apps require an onboarding process to show new users how to achieve their goals as efficiently and conveniently as possible. 

For this, we need to keep in mind that the onboarding experience can affect your relationship with prospects – both positively and negatively. 

No matter how good your app actually is, the first impression counts! 

Large companies like Slack or Dropbox also frequently overhaul their user onboarding to ensure users have a comfortable, fun, and productive start to their product. But see for yourself. The following images show an excerpt from Slack’s onboarding process from 2014 and 2021. Of course, the design has changed drastically, but you can also see that instead of reading where the team name comes up in the Slack interface, we actually see the user interface and our team name on it. These improvements are certainly not the results of guesswork but of meticulously coordinated optimization workflows.

Slack Team Name

Slack Company Name
The evolution of Slack’s onboarding process (Source)

 

As even big enterprises invest in optimizing their onboarding processes, we realize that we should do the same and not rest on our laurels. The question remains, how do you make sure you are building the right onboarding experience in the right way? 

And this is where cross-functional product teams and Flagship come into play!

 

Leverage Flagship to unite product teams and ensure great UX

At AB Tasty, when we work towards a great user experience, we focus on two main themes:

  1. Release the right feature: We step into our users’ shoes and conduct experiments and tests to ensure that the feature delivers value and looks and feels good.
  2. Deploy the feature right: It’s not just about functionality and looks. We utilize feature management to ensure that what we’ve created works flawlessly at all times and on different platforms.
Flagship chart
Flagship provides a shared environment for experimentation and feature management

Flagship gives you the means to get the most out of both: data-driven experimentation and feature management to create and release features for great customer experiences. So we see release teams as an integral part of creating value for our users. This may not be the most popular opinion. Still, now we’d like to tell you more about why we think DevOps should be more closely integrated with product teams.

It’s no secret that teams that work toward a common goal are more likely to reach their true potential than those that don’t. By isolating DevOps from product teams, you probably can’t count on the positive effects of unity and passion necessary to create and release great products. For this reason, we encourage product teams to work more closely with DevOps. Release teams also care about delivering value and great experiences to users. And they bring the skills required to do so to the table.

Flagship provides product managers, developers, and DevOps engineers with a shared environment for experimentation and feature management. You get easy access to all the data and tools needed to have a productive conversation about the product optimization process in a common data-driven language. Simultaneously, instead of isolating specific roles and responsibilities in silos, each member of the product team can focus on doing their job while continuing to work as a collective force.

Now, let’s take a look at how Flagship’s experimentation and feature management capabilities enable product teams to deliver outstanding user experiences.

 

Deploy the feature right with feature management

First, let’s talk about a few examples of how feature management and releasing a feature right can positively impact your users’ onboarding experience.

Suppose you want to add tooltips to your onboarding process to help users navigate your product’s dashboard confidently. The product team prepares the new feature accordingly and thoroughly tests the functionality on the test servers. After everything seems to be working, they roll out the new feature for all users in one fell swoop. Hopefully, it’s not Friday afternoon, as the changeover could cause unforeseen problems on the production server, like:

  • Your user is stuck in an infinite loop that they can’t exit
  • User input isn’t saved, e.g., in a form
  • The app crashes repeatedly
  • The user is sent back to the start for no apparent reason

 

Just imagine what such behavior means for users going through your onboarding process and looking forward to finally using your product when it suddenly stops working. Poof, the magic moment has passed. The user has most likely lost confidence in your app due to bad UX.

 

Flagship makes code deployments stress-free

With Flagship’s feature management capabilities, your product teams can publish new features with ease – even on Friday afternoons.

Feature management enables release teams to provide the new tooltips feature to a selected target group before continually rolling it out to everyone. This way, you can be sure that the new feature works under realistic conditions, i.e., on production servers with real users.

Through controlled and monitored rollouts, DevOps teams immediately know whether something isn’t working correctly. This enables them to react on time and be glad that only a few users have noticed the error.

For example, suppose the developers wrapped the tooltip feature in a feature flag (which they really should be doing). In that case, they can quickly deactivate it via the flagship dashboard if a problem occurs. Of course, they can also configure automatic code rollbacks based on KPIs to react even faster.

Proper feature management can de-stress your release teams: Gone are the sleepless nights spent dealing with damage control! If you want to learn more about the benefits of feature management for tech teams, we recommend our blog post here.

 

Release the right feature with experimentation

Perhaps you have great empaths on your product teams and feel like you know your users pretty well. Still, it is wise to experiment and test to create an onboarding process that your users will love.

Let’s look at the tooltip example from before again. Suppose that after your product team successfully integrated the tooltips into user onboarding, your analytics data shows that something must be wrong. Many users still don’t know how to use your app and abandon the process midway through. If you can’t identify and resolve the problem right away, you need to leverage other means to improve the tooltip’s user experience. 

First, make sure that everything is fine from a technical point of view. Next, your product team should start working on possible variants to improve the tooltips’ presentation and functionality. You can then experiment and test with Flagship to determine which of these variants and ideas offer the best user experience.

For example, you could utilize A/B tests to see if showing a how-to video before displaying the tooltips helps users get started with your product. Or experiment with different tooltips sequences – perhaps the process is easier to understand if you change the tooltips’ order.

You’re also free to experiment with different colors, copy, UI elements, call to action, and so on. To make your experiments as meaningful as possible, you can define which users see which feature variant and track user acceptance, test results, and KPIs in the Flagship dashboard. 

Another advantage of Flagship is that you can utilize 1-to-1 personalization based on audience segments to provide users with unique experiences. For example, after a user registered for a paid subscription, show them a customized welcome message and add more value to their onboarding experience.

 

… What about client-side tools for experimentation?

Many client-side experience optimization tools, such as our AB Tasty, can also perform most of these experiments – without code deployments. However, the advantage of coding your experiments for a critical process such as user onboarding is that you don’t potentially slow it down with automatically generated UI overlays. Instead, tests and experiments with Flagship are fast, secure, and flicker-free, as they come directly from the server and don’t have to be calculated in the user’s browser. Of course, client-side tools still have their justification and unique uses – Flagship is a great tool to complement your client-side strategy.

 

Wrapping up

If you want to provide users with the best possible onboarding experience, you need cross-functional teams who know how to release the right feature and how to release a feature right. One of our goals is to advocate the importance of release teams to great UX – whether a product technically works is as important as how it looks and behaves.

Using Flagship’s experimentation and feature management capabilities, product teams can benefit from a shared platform to collaborate on improving the onboarding experience in a productive and data-driven way.

Would you like to try Flagship for your product teams? Book a demo and see how experimentation and feature management can transform your users’ onboarding experience from okay to Yay.

 

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8min read

Top Books You Must Read to Build Amazing Product Roadmaps

If you’ve played any role in a product development team, you’re probably very familiar with the tricky question of the product roadmap. To build a functioning roadmap, timing, priorities, company goals/vision, customer expectations/feedback, technology, competitive benchmarks, and much more need to be taken into consideration. No easy task!

Luckily, there are a multitude of books that can help you keep on top of all these factors. Here are our favorites, in no particular order. 

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers

Authors: Geoffrey A. Moore and Regis McKenna

Crossing the Chasm

In this book, Moore proposes the “crossing the chasm” marketing theory. He segments customers into five groups, namely innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. 

If you look close enough, you’ll learn to form a blueprint to market your products that win over not only the visionaries and early adopters, but also the mainstream customers. But the key to succeeding according to Moore is to focus on one group at a time, using each group as a base to market to the next one.  

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change)

Author: Clayton M. Christensen

Innovator's Dilemma

If you want in on how your company can recognize and use disruptive technology, then this is the book for you. Citing examples from across various sectors, Christensen defines the innovator’s dilemma and why they fall short of disrupting the market. It’s from his careful analysis that you learn how to become a product manager with a vision and also gain confidence to make tough decisions. 

There are lessons for entrepreneurs too who want to overtake the big, established companies leading with sustainable technology and disrupt their hold over their market. 

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Author: Eric Reis

Lean StartUp

According to Reis, startup founders think they already know what people want and spend a lot of time trying to perfect a business plan for a product which no one actually wants or wants to pay to use. And this overconfidence is exactly the reason they fail. 

To reset this failure-driven mindset, Reis teaches the Lean Startup approach which helps entrepreneurs become agile and ‘grow a business with maximum acceleration’. Surely you’ll find his advice practical and build a product that already has a solid customer base. 

The Art of Product Management: Lessons from a Silicon Valley Innovator

Author: Rich Mironov

art of product management

Mironov’s book is a compilation of some of his most popular articles from the column, Product Bytes, that he wrote between 2002 and 2008. Divided into five sections, there’s plenty of advice on how to get into customers’ heads, price products, and build and maintain product organizations. Reading it, you’ll find everything Minrov says resonates with you, because it’s the same struggle for everyone in product management, except no one quite writes about it the way he does. 

Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want

Authors: Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Patricia Papadakos, Gregory Bernarda, and Alan Smith

value proposition design

Value Proposition Design is the second book by the same team of authors that published Business Model Generation. Which is also why many readers consider this as a sequel. Overall, in the book the authors explain the oft-misunderstood concept of value proposition, and give people practical tools they can use to discover what customers find valuable, and then design, test, create, and manage products and/or services. 

Start at the End: How to Build Products That Create Change

Author: Matt Wallaert

start at the end

Start at the End offers a framework of designing products that’s grounded in behavioral science. The author’s argument in the book is based on the ‘Intervention Design Process’, by which you create a product with the goal of behavior change in mind. He breaks down complex ideas in the easiest manner possible and packs a punch with his humorous writing style and numerous case studies. 

In fact, those who’ve followed the framework have been able to shift the culture in their organization, mainly because they firmly believed in what the author says: ‘creating behavior change is messy, but that’s not the reason not to do it.’

Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It 

Author: April Dunford

Obviously awesome

Dunford is a positioning consultant and in her 25-year old career worked with 6 successful startups and launched 16 products. Clearly, she knows why some products click with their customers in a market where every product seems to claim they’re innovation personified. 

So do yourself a favor and pick this book, especially if you’re someone who thinks their product is ‘obviously awesome’, but can’t figure out why it isn’t a rage in the super crowded marketplace. Even if you think you’ve figured it all out, you’ll learn how you can use positioning to know what people know and ‘help them understand what they don’t’. 

Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty 

Authors: C. Todd Lombardo, Bruce McCarthy, Evan Ryan, and Michael Connors

“A good roadmap is not so much a project plan as a strategic communication tool, a statement of intent and direction.”

If your definition of a roadmap is any different, you must read this book right away and reboot for success. It comprehensively covers the whys, hows and the whats of product roadmapping alongside giving examples and practical advice to help you come up with your own functional roadmap. 

Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams

Authors: Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson, and Nate Walkingshaw

Want to pick the brain of the who’s who in the product management world? Get this book. The authors with decades of their combined experience of creating products come together to compile interviews with nearly 100 leading product managers from around the world. Overall, you’ll find actionable tips on becoming not just better product managers, but better product leaders.  

Are your favorites in the list? If not, we’d love you to know which books you’d recommend!