We’ve been working on our first product for almost a year now. While we still enjoy every second of it, there have been a few areas that take away from what our users really love — adding features. When we began development, most of our time was spent on implementing features and polishing the application. Since launch, development time now comes in at around 80% (20% goes to support), and only about half of that time is spent implementing features that our users actually see. Here are some of the tasks that aren’t always thought about when making an application, but that eventually need to be considered.
To aide support, account management is crucial. The idea is that a customer can be viewed, and in one glance their support, billing, and usage history can be seen. Given that information, the support admin can then fix outdated databases, upgrade, downgrade, cancel, refund, and perform any other task with one click. Ryan Carson writes on how making it easier to help your customers results in better service.
You make what you measure, or so they say. That said, graphs and reports on signups, sales, conversion ratios, cancellations, unsatisfied customers, and more over time periods of days, weeks, months and years are necessary.
Word of mouth is great, but how else can we get users to our site? Whether the method is advertising, referral programs, SEO, conferences or promotions, tracking performance must be in place. And once a user gets to the site, it is important to know what makes them signup, and what makes them leave.
So a ton of people sign up for a free account. Great! But eventually they become a burden when they start to take up server resources. To remedy this, we flagged any free account with no entries or logins in the past 3 months as inactive. At first, we were going to simply delete these accounts, but that wasn’t good enough. We wanted people to be able to restore their accounts, so we had to work out a way to programmatically back up their information. Once that was completed, what would the user see when they logged on, and how would their account get restored. The site had to be visually modified, and a one click restore had to be added to the account manager.
This is something we’re still trying to figure out how to handle properly. In addition to trying to stay up with the text and videos of the actual documentation, we have to figure out and track how to move users with questions from within the program to the actual documentation. The ultimate goal being to reduce support tickets to 0.
Yes, almost 85% of our code has been rewritten since launch, and the other 15% will follow shortly. There are multiple reasons for this, but the main three are for scaling, optimization, and preparation for an API. We can imagine that this number would decrease if the 3 of us made another application, but there are definitely some growing pains.