Innovation Blog

Designing Products for Growth: Understanding the Essential Stages


This post was originally published on on 10/09/2018. It has been republished here at the authors request.  

Whether you’re new to the world of product and never designed an app before or a seasoned entrepreneur who’s been through the thick and thin of it, there’s one thing you need to determine when it come to product development, how do you measure the success of a design?

Design is subjective and while you might like or dislike some features, one thing is certain; the way users react to your product is the truth! They can’t be wrong!

I come across over 300 entrepreneurs every year and teach them about their businesses and how they can achieve product / market fit.

Making a parallel between your product metric and the product design and implementation, helps the analysis of all the issues that needs to be addressed. More importantly it sets the priorities for your team to work on.

What many products suffer from is what is represented in Fig.1, I drew a sideways funnel from Discovery to Revenue for one of our products and it looked like this:


The idea is simple. Your product, as it is designed, has hurdles for users to overcome.

How do you take that and make it look like Fig. 2?


Each stage has its own challenge.

Discovery: Users search for an app like yours but don’t find it

Acquisition: Users find your app on iTunes, look at it but don’t download it

Engagement: Users download it but don’t sign up

Return: People sign up but don’t use it (Day 1 engagement)

Referral: People use the app but don’t refer it

Revenue: Users don’t buy the premium features of the app

If you’re struggling with one of these issues, read on, you’re in the right place.

The questions you need to ask yourself are simple.

1- Do you have all these steps designed in you app?

Bear in mind that many products aren’t in-app purchase based — they can be pay to play products or even free (like Facebook) however the funnel we’re talking about here is still the same. When a user “pays” it means he or she invested in your app in order to use it. This could be in the form of personal information, money, location or usage patterns.

How did you design your app to make sure you’re holding the hand of your users from start to finish?

Do you have a login? What is the reward your users get out of the app?

Is this something so valuable they would pay for it?

Each step of the way some users might be discouraged to jump through your hoops, others might simply not see what you’re trying to show, users might think they’ve reached a dead end. Running users experience test is crucial and very often free to do with people who genuinely have a problem to solve.

2- How many users do you lose at each step of the way?

If you see on the App Store that your app had 35,000 views but only 2,500 downloads it, perhaps you have a strong App Store Optimization (ASO) but poor graphics and an underwhelming description.

You’re competing against more than 2 million apps and lots of noise, so your app needs to be unmistakably sexy, engaging with users from the first glance. This can be achieved by way of videos, great ratings and screenshots that just make you want to go for it!

Repeating this every step of the way can prove extremely useful for your UX/ UI team.

Let’s say you lose half of your users after they’ve downloaded the app because they never signed up — perhaps it’s time to add these Facebook and Google authentications APIs.

Is your user engaged? Are you offering enough value on a daily, monthly or yearly basis? Airbnb doesn’t track daily engagement when it comes to its users — it tracks the yearly bookings. What metric is significant enough for you to track so you know that the few users you have will never leave you?

Having 1,000 addicted users is far better than having 1 million inactive users that never came back — this would imply that the funnel is leaking and no matter how much advertising you pay for, the product development is flawed.

3- What percentage of users actually convert for revenue?

It’s all fun and games to start with, but at some point you’re going to need a few bucks to pay the rent, so how do you monetize? Is this linked to the conversion step of your product, or is your product so valuable you’re making people pay up front?

In both cases, you need to make sure people find your platform valuable. This is often linked to the difference between surfacing data and giving actionable results.

What you need to keep in check is how many users convert ultimately whether they refer friends or pay for whatever you’re offering. Using attribution and tagging is a great way to do that, but I’ll cover this some other time!


This is a guest post from Cyrille Najjar

Cyrille Najjar is the CEO of Sensio Air, Founder of WW Ventures and has been developing hardware and software products for over 20 years, with clients from all around the world. He’s also a teacher at both UCL and Cambridge University. Passionate musician, guitarist and rocker, he used to have very, very long hair!

Sensio Air is a platform that offers sensors, mobile apps, analytics, and services to support respiratory health management. Using smart algorithms, Sensio Air can identify floating particles in the air, determine the causes of someone’s symptoms, and provide them with personalized alerts to drive behavioral change. Sensio Air was designed to help asthma and allergy sufferers predict, prevent and manage their symptoms.




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