The end of the year is almost upon us and I hope its been good for all three readers out there. 😉
The past weeks I’ve been confronted with the question about how to carry on after the initial enthusiasm and inertia fades.
What I love about working with Daniel is the how he manages to simply keep up. If one of us has an idea, we can bounce it around in a couple of sentences so that we share the understanding of what it is we want, and within a day or two I’ll usually get a functioning version of what was asked for. Which by the way is then never really what I want, but the speed of it leads to excitement of possibilites and further discussion on how the feature should really be. The improvements follow just as quickly afterwards. It all creates a really continuous back and forth where development is in flow and I get to see something not just taking form but becoming quite highly polished in an incredibly short space of time. That itself creates a game of enthusiasm and inertia. The product becomes a veritable firework display of new functionality, enhancements and UI changes.
The problem comes when that cycle stops. It happens for any number of reasons, but when it does it can be incredibly hard to get back into the same sort of flow.
I recently hit this wall with our App. I took time to thinking hard over the past couple of weeks why.
The idea for the app is simple. The App itself has become a miniature work of art. But I found that I was ignoring it and was really trying to understand the reasons behind it.
The answer was relatively simple, I no longer engage with the app because i’m bored with it. It does what I want it to do. The solution is far more tricky, because I saw it as not just about how I deal with the app, but every users engagement. How do you keep a users interest high enough to keep on coming back? As the designer its a simple task to ask for new features or changes to be made. A normal person doesn’t have that ability and yet we expect them to come back each day and use it, how?
How about gamification? Turning the whole thing into a competition. Which can be effective, but housework is not really a game, so whilst it offered short term gains I actually found it annoying and more of a turnoff after a while. Then there is the shame game, the original app name was „you lazy dog” (or something close to that) and one of the parts was to show who had done the least and was hence the lazy dog. I wanted then to have the lazy dog title being posted then on Facebook. But both my wife and partner persuaded me that this would be development suicide. An other consideration, offer the user more configurations, increase the possibility of personalisation, this often comes with the expense of overloading the app and very possibly reducing the simplicity of use. And for me friction in an app is a killer.
I then was at the point where I thought the app doesn’t have legs for long term appeal. At the same time was given the answer for why it does. My wife had noticed that I was no longer using the app and that my commitment to the housekeeping had fallen back to original levels. This would not do. and I was told so accordingly. Get on it! Whilst it’s not a perfect answer in a technical solution, its the only real answer, having something is better than nothing, we just have to ensure that the usage of the App is as friction free and enjoyable as possible. People will engage and continue their usage. adding further features is nice but i feel will essentially only offer a short term distraction from the job that ultimately needs to be done.
Now then, whats next? Daniel was mentioning something about rewriting the backend and I have to focus a little more on marketing it. Lets see what the new year brings.