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How I Launched an MVP in Less Than a Day (With Time for Lunch)

| December 4, 2014
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Being a part of the Marketing team at UserTesting keeps my brain constantly abuzz. New marketing ideas, new projects, new problems, new content. It’s terribly exciting, and a little too easy to get sucked into a rabbit hole. So, I’ve started chanting a new mantra. One that will keep me from fiddling on current work and wasting precious time. A phrase that I will repeat under my breath as soon as I ask myself “OK, what else does this need?”

Are you ready?

Stop re-fixing old problems and start finding new ones.

You know that moment when you’re pretty sure your work is done. I mean, it’s close. It’s really close. And you’re digging the results. Almost.

So you start a new version. One that is sure to be better than that last thing you just had. Then, before you know it, you’ve got 16 versions and you can’t remember why the heck you ever wanted to take on the stinking project in the first place.

That’s when my new mantra would have been helpful. Before I started round 3.

Ask for feedback earlier, make things less sucky sooner

The thing I’ve found most helpful these days is feedback. I ask my co-workers to read stuff after the zero draft. My family, my friends—yep, they’re in the next round!

If I still feel like I’m running into the same problems that they are, then I know I need to spend more time getting things right.

Otherwise, I start looking for the next problem, the one that I haven’t found yet. The problem that my actual target audience is probably going to stumble into. That’s where UserTesting comes in.

Here’s an example…

I’ve been working on a landing page that tells people about our new Mountain View-based device lab. We’ve got all of these tablets and cell phones and what-not lying around, and they’re just screaming to be used. So we’re opening up our office and inviting all of our local friends to stop in and use these devices to try out their latest and greatest apps, websites…well, you get it.

I jotted down my thoughts, did some rough wireframe sketches, and then spun up a landing page (we use Marketo). Here’s what my process for a project like this looks like by the numbers:

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Here at the office, everyone already knew what the device lab was. They inherently were going to interpret my messaging and the point of the landing page. But they are not the target audience!

My target audience (developers, designers, and researchers living in to Silicon Valley who create mobile experiences) are actually pretty foreign to me. I don’t really know what they’re interested in, let alone what they would think about my “fancy marketing speak” about this device bab.

So I got a landing page up quickly. I pulled together a set of basic tasks in my UserTesting dashboard, double checked my testing checklist, and decided not to wait another minute to find out what those developers would think.

Test questions

  1. Look around the home page and talk about what you think the site is about: what can you do here, what’s it for, what strikes you about it?

  2. Did you complete the task successfully? Yes/No

  3. Overall, this task was: Scale: Very Difficult <—> Very Easy

  4. Do you know what The Lab at UserTesting is for? Multiple choice

  5. Based on the information presented, would you consider using this device lab? Why or why not? Verbal Question

  6. Please book a time to come in and use the Device Lab.

  7. Did you complete the task successfully? Yes/No

  8. Overall, this task was: Scale: Very Difficult <—> Very Easy

  9. What other information would you like to see included on this page? Verbal Question

Test results

Boy, did I get some great ideas! For one, the first version of the page didn’t include a video—and just about everyone who visited the page wished there was something they could watch. Second, 4 out of the first 5 people I heard from didn’t realize that the device lab was a physical location that they could visit.

UH OH! After I reviewed my first set of videos, I made some quick changes to the copy. From this feedback, I added the address and hours to the footer, revised the description to include Silicon Valley-specific language, and of course made a quick video using PowToon to help demonstrate the purpose of the device lab.

Much better! I ran 3 more user tests and picked up on a few additional usability issues that I cleaned up the same afternoon. For one, the free YouCanBookMe experience I had started out using had a big button at the bottom of the plugin promoting their service. Several people clicked that button thinking it had something to do with the Device Lab. Upgrade time!

The biggest “aha” moment came when I ran a study that included people using their mobile devices. The YouCanBookMe app doesn’t work so well on mobile, especially on a tablet, so I ended up removing the automatic booking capability and set up a super short form that sends me a notification when someone is interested in booking the lab. Then, I just call them right back and set up a time for them.

Early feedback helped me validate my idea

The goal of this landing page is to test out the idea. Since we’re basically Beta-testing this, I was able to get an MVP shipped in less than a day. I know that it conveys the right information, it resonates with my target audience, and functionally, it will make do.

If it ends up becoming a popular resource for the community, I’ll be happy to put more resources (and money!) into improving the entire experience. But for now? Gathering early feedback helped me launch a program with confidence, and iron out some embarrassing kinks that would have been a big downer on my new idea.

UserTesting gives me access to my target audience on demand

    UserTesting isn’t just something I sell; It’s something I use.

    I’d love to hear about your marketing projects that have benefited from early feedback. Please leave your examples in the comments!