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Should You Remove Money-Making Features to Improve User Experience?

Updated on August 18, 2017

Problem

I recently came across a website community that I really wanted to join. As I was a new user and knowing the website has a lot of features, I wanted to be a part of the community and see what they have that's available.

I also knew that the owner(s) of the site are really into growth-hacking and growing at any cost - so I wanted to test out some of their ideas and see if I can apply some to my activities.

I'm sad to report that I spent a total of 46 seconds on the site before realizing that their supposedly amazing features and things you can do - actually drove me away - they were just too much for a new user.

Logging into the site you get literally attacked by a series of pop-ups, banners, notifications, menu options, buttons to click, prompts to read and activities to perform. So many, in fact, that they became too many.

Understandably - the company wants to do whatever is needed to grow and increase users on the site, increase retention as well as increase purchases. But, in this case (and I think many others) they did too much.

I was not surprised to see a wealth of options and features as well as a really well designed "onboarding guide" with things to do and rewards for them being done - however there were just too many and it turned confusing as 3-4 things on the screen were telling me to go to 3-4 different places on the site at once.

From a customer experience point of view - I will have to agree with (what probably is) their data that tells them having these features does increase the retention or traffic or sign-ups in one way or another. However from a new customer point of view - it does the complete opposite - drives me away from the site.

Considering that users want to do a lot of stuff on the site - it's always a good idea to have these features - however it seems the one growth-hack they didn't do is use a machine learning algorithm with data from user behavior to determine the best time to show these features.

Designing a new user on-boarding can be quite daunting, as you don't know what to put on there if you're just starting - so I decided to write this article to give an example of a method to determine this without saturating the user experience and causing the new users to actually leave the site - also without the need for a complex mathematical algorithm to do this.

Improvement Method

Maximizing monetisation and growth while maintaining user experience

Step 1. Determine if your site is monetised by user traffic or by sales. And which of these are more important from an income point of view while creating a list of features or "things to do" on the site that drive users to this directly or indirectly.

Step 2. Determine which features of the site you believe to be the drivers for the most income. Select 3 maximum and mark them as main features.

Step 3. Run separate ad campaigns for each and test your hypothesis to a test group of existing users or to new users from the campaigns.

Step 4. Determine which 3 features are the second most important from a monetisation point of view and mark them as 2nd round features.

Step 5. Test the 2nd round features on returning users from all 3 campaigns. When the first group of users return present them with the "return" onboarding guide with another set of things for them to do. Advertise these 2nd round features as a separate campaign only to drive return to the site.

Step 6. Test different 2nd round features features on main feature users with split testing.

Step 7. Determine which 3 features are the third most important from a monetisation point of view and mark them as 3rd round features.

Step 8. Repeat Step 5 - Step 6 with 3rd round features.

Step 9. Analyse results from these 3 rounds of features and re-determine what features actually drive more income

Step 10. Build an on-boarding process with the best performing main feature, best performing 2nd round and best performing 3rd round feature and deploy to the rest of the users and/or use it to attract new users.

Step 11. Profit more and reduce overloading while improving user experience.

Step Bonus: some users like being overwhelmed with features, however some users will be driven away by this. The ones that like being overwhelmed can be happy to get all sets of features at once and the initial test group should have a determination option to check if the user likes this or not. A simple question prompt before the on-boarding process starts like: "Do you want to see all of our features at once? Don't worry - you can always come back to the tutorial from the menu bar" or similar would resolve this problem.

Conclusion

Having these features is great and based on your data they probably increase growth for your website or product - however, please make sure that new users don't get overwhelmed and in turn leave the site. You can easily achieve this with a simple on-boarding process or guide that takes users through the things they can do on the site, one-by-one.

Hope that helps,

Narcis Radoi

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