So when do you decide to need to build something? Mostly when you notice or experience a problem out there that needs to be solved. In such cases you are either trying to solve the problem for somebody else or you are building a product for yourself.
For us, at LingosMio, it was the latter. Having looked online for countless sources to learn Portuguese and ending up dissatisfied with the results we decided to build LingosMio to learn languages for ourselves. After just 5 months since the initial release of the app, LingosMio is ranked in the top 10 of all education apps in 14 countries. With no funding we bootstrapped our way to be amongst the best, all on the strength of the product we built.
Here are some key factors you can also follow (from our experience) to really build products that users would love.
Know your audience
The first question you need to answer is: whom are you building the product for and what do you want your users to achieve from the product? A lot of the times when we start product development we are so keen on building a features that we may lose sight of this most important question that needs to be answered.
At LingosMio, we were very clear that LingosMio would be a structured way to learn languages, which could be used by somebody who has no background of the language being taught. We were also clear that the app would make the students really get involved, since that is the best way to learn and thus it was not for the very casual learner.
Do the users know what they want?
A lot of the times the first thing we would do is to go to the user to conduct interviews. If you are not building the product for yourself this is probably the right thing to do. But, do the potential users you are talking to, do they really know what they want? Henry Ford famously quoted “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
You need to build a prototype first, after that talking to the users will be more effective.
At LingosMio this was easier for us since we were the end users. However, we only started talking to people after we had a few chapters of our first course ready.
Do not assume, build and test
It is very difficult to pass judgments on features you have not built. You can try to imagine how some features would perform, but you cannot be sure until you actually test them. This is time consuming no doubt, but it will ensure you deliver an excellent product.
At LingosMio, we built about 20 different prototypes of exercises in chapters until we zeroed down on the pattern we wanted to follow.
Get the product to the users
I have seen a lot of product managers over stress on the design. While getting the right design is an essential part, it’s also important to get the product out to the users for feedback. Otherwise you can build all you like, but till you get feedback from a wider audience you will never know whether you are heading in the right direction.
We were not the quickest in rolling out LingosMio to a wider audience, however we did only a few chapters of the Spanish course when we did. This quickly made us aware of the changes we needed to make to improve our product.
Carry out user interviews
It is very important that once you have made the initial launch you go out and you talk to your users. While carrying out these user interviews make sure you ask questions like: What features they liked, was it obvious how to use the product or the app, did they use all the features and if they missed out on a key feature you know you need to make things easier to find and use. You do not need to implement everything the users ask, however these interviews will let you know exactly where your product is lacking.
At LingosMio, we personally spoke to more than a 100 users and personally emailed all of our first 1,000 users.
Keen in touch with your users – even after the wider launch
Once you improve your product and launch it to a wider audience it will not be possible to speak to each user. However it’s important you seek their opinion. Carry out surveys and try to get in touch with those who gave a negative feedback or had useful suggestions.
Another important thing to do straight after the bigger launch is to keep an eye out for complaints from the users, this will help you remove a lot of bugs and engineering issues you may have missed. We at LingosMio have taken a survey for each of our wider course launches. It really helps (even if things are well) and it gives a huge boost to your confidence.
Give great customer support
One cannot stress enough on this. This is also easier said than done. Users want to know that if there is someone on the other side listening to their problems and in a lot of cases appreciations too. Make sure you reply to queries as quickly as you can.
At LingosMio, we answer most queries within 20 minutes. The longest we have taken to answer a query is 10 hours. And queries come to us from all over.
A lot of companies as they scale are not able to provide the customer support. However, this needs to be at the core and a priority. Since the past 8 months LingosMio has grown from 1,000 to quarter of a million users and we are constantly improving our customer support. This along with regularly keeping in touch with the users by providing them with useful information will add to the product experience and this is what users love!