App Prototyping

with Erin Parker

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There are efficient and inefficient ways to ask customers for feedback.

Erin Parker

Founder, Spitfire Athlete; iOS Engineer; National-Level Weightlifter

Lessons Learned

Don’t ask users “what do you think” about your app – ask specific questions.

First focus on what your user is like, and then see what they think of your app.

Watch your users use apps that are competitors to yours.

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Lesson: App Prototyping with Erin Parker

Step #9 Testing: There are efficient and inefficient ways to ask customers for feedback

A lot of iPhone app developers use a service called "TestFlight" or "HockeyApp" and that allows your app to be distributed to devices before it's in the App Store. We created a TestFlight account, and then we put the link to sign up on our home page, and then told all our friends. That's how we basically got our first 100 users. They either had friends of friends or knew of people who were into that. When it comes to strength training people are either solidly into it or just not into it, or they know someone who is into it, so we got a lot of referrals that way.

When testing your product with users, we recommend putting analytics on your app, tagging every single page, and tagging the users' either username or full name, so that you can see so-and-so clicked on this page and stayed on it for so long. You want to see that early on, so that you can see the typical flow through your application. We did that first, and in addition to that we scheduled one-on-one meetings. For each meeting don't just sit there, throw your app in their face and say "What do you think?" It's a terrible way to do it, you're wasting your own time.

What you should do is plan, "What do I want to get out of this meeting? What parts of my interface do I want to test? What do I want to learn from this user?" For us, we want to learn, "Do you care about training plans? Do you want to do them for four weeks? What type of training plan would you be most interested in? What are your goals?" So we would ask them these questions, and then say "Hey, if you had this today, would you use it? How would you use it?" Then we would watch them use it, and then say "Okay, so you think that this training plan helps you achieve your goal?" and then they'd be like "Hmm, I think it might." Then from there we say "Why? Okay, what do you actually want to see?"

Then, we would actually compare our app to other apps. So we'd pull out competitors' apps and then we'd say "Okay, try and use this competitor's app to find something that helps you achieve your goal." We'd watch them use it, and benchmark how easy it was to find their thing with respect to our app.

We find planning what you want to test before the meeting, is much more valuable than just sitting down, throwing your app at them, and watching them stumble through it.

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