This is the Product Death Cycle. Why it happens and how to break out of it.
November 19, 2015 | By August Infotech
The hardest part of any new product launch is the beginning, when it’s not quite working and you’re iterating and molding the experience to fix it. It may be the hardest phase, but it’s also the most fun.
A year ago when I saw this, I retweeted this diagram right away and a year later, its hit 1,400+ RTs overall. This diagram has resonated with a ton of people because sadly, we’ve seen this Product Death Cycle happen many times. We’ve maybe even fallen into it ourselves as it’s all too easy. I’ve written about this phase before, in After the Techcrunch bump: Life in the Trough of Sorrow. I have also written some thoughts and strategies related to getting the product/market fit sooner rather than later. Let’s talk about each step of this cycle, why it happens and present a list of questions/provocations that might allow us to escape.
Instead of asking for what’s missing, instead the solution is to ask- what is the root cause of users not using the product? Where’s the fundamental bottleneck? In a world where 80% of daily active users are lost within 30 days, there are a lot of reasons why users are bouncing before they even get into the “deep engagement features” you’ve built out. Asking engaged users what features they want won’t help much;- instead you’ll likely get a laundry list of disorganized features that will push you towards your competitors. One book recommendation on this topic: Harvard Business School professor Youngme Moon’s book on competitive differentiation precisely describes the process in which customer research quickly leads to muddled differentiation, it’s worth reading.
I’ve also published some real-life data at Losing 80% of mobile users is normal. The point is, most interaction with a product happens in the first few visits. That’s where you can ask the user to setup for long-term retention and to present the user with a magic moment. Building a bunch of “missing” features is unlikely to target the leakiest part of the user experience, which is in the on boarding. If the new features are meant to target the core experience, it’s important that they really improve the majority workflows within the UI, otherwise people won’t use them enough to change their engagement levels. To break out of this part of the Product Death Cycle, ask yourself- is this enough of a change to influence the experience? Is it far enough “up the funnel” to impact the leakiest parts of the product experience? Is this just another cool feature that only a small % of users will experience?
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