Podcast: Better onboarding by recording sessions

Dec 21

Podcast: Better onboarding by recording sessions

mixbit iphone screenIn this podcast series we ask experienced Appreneurs for one success story and one fail. In this episode of the Mobile Engagement Podcast:

Kishan Gupta is CEO of UXCam discusses how most Apps don’t really know how their users experience the App UI. Kishan had an idea to get better feedback to developers and product managers. He tells how this improves onboarding and retention.

Also here are a few writers on UX and on-boarding that Kishan recommends:

  1. Samuel Hullick is the UX Onboarding guru that mentions below. His book The Element of User Onboarding and his blog tear down of various products are quite awesome. Here is the link to his tear-downs.
  2. Aarron Walter is the UX designer at Mailchimp who talks about Emotion and Design and it’s a a great book that Kishan recommends. Here is the link.

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David: Hello. This is David Jones from StreetHawk and I’m here with Kishan Gupta and he’s from a company called UXCam and we’ll be talking to him about UXCam and also his life before UXCam. So, mate, how are you?

Kishan: I’m pretty good, David. Thanks for having me. How are you?

David: Good. I’m just gonna unzip my jacket a bit more so it doesn’t rub on the table, I could hear it rattling. So yeah, so tell us a little bit about UXCam. What are you trying to achieve?

Kishan: Sure. So yeah, we built UXCam to solve our problem when, myself, I was working as a UX researcher and my co-founder, Richard, he was developing the BBC app. So we just saw a lot of problems in terms of how we can understand user experience and solve where our users are struggling. So yeah, we built this solution which helps you see how your users are interacting with the product and you can understand where they’re struggling.

David: So just to rewind back there, you mean the BBC app, as in British Broadcasting Corporation? That would be a massive app.

Kishan: Yes, that’s the one. So Richard was actually the leader. I’m a developer in the BBC Weather app.

David: Wow. Okay. How many users is that unofficially? [Laughs]

Kishan: I think there is a lot, definitely in millions. [Laughs]

David: Yeah, I would think in the tens of millions or something like that.

Kishan: Right, yeah.

David: Okay, cool. So he was on that, so basically seeing a very broad amount of experience of how users can really screw up your app.

Kishan: Yeah, certainly. I mean, his experience was varied. They were sort of flying UX designers to France and all different countries just to kind of record how they are using this app and understand where they’re struggling, which is obviously a lot more expensive and huge, a lot of time-consuming as well.

David: So what did they actually just go out there with a camera or—yeah, a camera and just basically sit behind somebody while they use the app?

Kishan: Yeah, exactly. And funny enough, that’s exactly how it’s being done in a lot of bigger companies as well.

David: Yeah, so it’s kind of like, “Okay. Well, I’m just gonna sort of set myself up here and pretend we’re not here and you just kinda do what you think is natural.” And naturally, [laughs] the reality is they kinda know that you’re sitting there behind them and so it kinda skews the experience or the user journey anyway, I guess.

Kishan: Exactly. I mean, it’s something called “Hawthorne Effect,” but what that means is basically when you have somebody watching you when you’re doing something, the way you interact with your product, in this case, is completely different than how you’d normally use. And when you’re kind of using an app, you don’t test it out on a lab-based setting. You’re actually either on a train going somewhere playing games or the whole scenario is completely different than what you do when you have tester watching you and asking you to use an app, so.

David: Yeah, that’s makes perfect sense. Okay, so tell us a little bit about how you work. Are you an SDK?

Kishan: Yes, we are an SDK. So the developer would add SDK on their app and write just two lines of code. I mean, we instrument a lot of things. So once they do that, they will distribute the app either through Play Store, App Store or just send it out to their testers and our code basically runs on the background to capture screen recording, touch interaction and all these different analysis and we do a lot of analysis on our dashboard. But also, you can see a video of how you’re using your app.

David: Okay, so let’s see, the guy, a girl, person who would really get the most out of this is either the UX developer, the UX designer or probably a product manager?

Kishan: Yes. I mean, these are the main people we talk to as well, but yeah, they get most out of the product.

David: So you don’t use it in a customer support scenario? It’s kind of like in the earlier stages?

Kishan: Yeah. I mean, there’s something actually, a couple of companies, a couple of companies that are actually using it in that particular way where they have integrated it with, where they send out UXCam sessions URL to the intercom support to kind of then replay those support tickets when they have a support ticket et cetera. But I mean, in terms of the core focus, we focus more on the product development side than on the customer support.

David: So it’s not like you’re out there sort of like doing a video if you’ve got 10,000 users per day, you’re not doing 10,000 video sessions? You’re actually kinda like, you kinda turn it on and off as you need it?

Kishan: Yeah. So you would basically turn it on depending on what features, say for example, if you are working on a new feature, you would only recruit users who come to—who are using that feature or if you’re testing out a user onboarding, for example, you would record just the first four-five sessions to understand what the user experience looks like. So there is the functionality of how to limit the recording—I mean, by default, we record all of them, but we give the option to kind of record what you need to record only as well.

David: Right. Okay. Alright, so yeah, you’ve got the flexibilities or just kind of like target that particular sort of set of users just for this time and the next two days or something like that?

Kishan: Right, exactly.

David: Okay, cool. Alright, and how does it kinda like, you know, end up? Does it mean you just basically got a queue or a database of videos that the product manager or the developer can go back and mark up or just sort of just basically reply?

Kishan: Yes, exactly, I mean, on the dashboard, but you would have a lot of filtering so you can find the videos that you’re looking for. So for example, you can say, “Show me all the users who went to this stage, who spent this many seconds, et cetera.” So you can run this advanced filtering queries on a dashboard to find those particular videos, and you’d replay them, yeah.

David: Oh, so yeah, I’m just looking at your dashboard now. So basically, I can see those guys. I can see the name, the device, the operating system, country when it was uploaded and basically they’re not gonna actually play that particular video and stuff like that.

Kishan: Right, yeah. And then we do a bit of analysis on top of it as well. So on the second tab, we have like showing you how users flow through your app or we generate heat maps for each pages, so there you can understand which part of your app is being used the most or which buttons are being used the most et cetera as well.

David: Yeah, okay. So we use a product from the web called “Lucky Orange,” which I guess is, what is it like? Crazy Egg maybe or something like that, where you’ve got those heat map-type capabilities as well, so record the session like it’s a web-only thing, but you can record the session. You can see how deep they went into the page, yeah, and what buttons they click. So you do all of that which is overlaid on the top of the recording as well too.

Kishan: Right, right. Exactly. Yes, there is actually quite a few solutions for web. And obviously we are doing, I mean, for mobile, it’s a fairly new space. And yeah, we are doing it on mobile right now only.

David: Right, yeah. You don’t wanna go into the web. [Laughs]

Kishan: No. [Laughs] Yeah, web is a pretty crowded space and yeah.

David: How do you find that in terms of positioning sort of cleanly against web solutions and stuff like that? Has that been a tough thing or is it, you know, do people just basically self-select because they’re a pure mobile company or what? Like if you got customers who were both web and e-mail—sorry, web and mobile, but they’ve actually chosen you because the mobile recordings, that are much cleaner or much more focused or what?

Kishan: So, I mean, if a company, do you mean in terms of when we talked again trying to kind of show our solution or?

David: Yeah. You know, they kind of say, “Okay, well, you know, we’re using Crazy Egg or something like that.” And you, say, well, do they ultimately—are they an easy sell or you’re ultimately battling uphill against web guys?

Kishan: Actually, if they’re already using a product like Crazy Egg or ClickTale et cetera, it’s a lot more easy sell for us because they already understand the pain and they already understand what we need to do. So it just becomes so much easier to sell. I think the harder part to sell is when they do not understand or they do not care about user experience and that’s a tougher sell.

David: [laughs] So where do you see the market today in terms of the maturity to deal with UX? Is it really sophisticated in some areas and really dumb in other areas?

Kishan: I think, I mean, the way I see it is in the beginning, people didn’t care about user experience at all, but now the fact that there is like millions of apps now and ten of the apps does exactly the same thing, and people are being so much sophisticated about user experience, so really, it’s about the companies that’s put sort of like the user experience in their center of their product strategy. They are the ones who’s gonna win versus the companies who are not really focused on user experience would obviously kind of lose out on this battle, yeah. So people are learning now, I think.

David: And who do you think is truly leading the charge, I guess, basically, funded Silicon Valley startups or [laughs] games, or whatever they really sort of know the UX issues the best?

Kishan: I mean, definitely, in terms of the user experience, Silicon Valley is no doubt, kinda like they’re really into user experience, yes.

David: And who’s kind of the worst, do you see? Is it in retail, or [laughs]

Kishan: Let’s see, the worst ones are—actually retails are getting better too because the thing with retail apps is you can actually bring in a dollar value in terms of when you do any changes on the user experience side. You can kind of prove it that, okay, it’s actually increasing the revenue et cetera, versus the apps which doesn’t—where it’s a lot more harder to kind of like put a dollar value in terms of the user experience. It’s a lot more harder to kind of bring in a correlation between UX and if I spend on UX, what am I getting back? So there isn’t a tangible element and that becomes a lot more harder. But I think retails are getting a lot more sophisticated in terms of UX.

David: So are you saying the apps that really aren’t doing a great job of UX are what utility apps or media apps, or what?

Kishan: I would be more inclined towards that, yes.

David: Right, yeah. Okay, cool. Alright, so we typically cover off what’s one win and one fail for your career. So you’ve been doing apps before and obviously been exposed to big things like BBC. Tell us a little bit about what you learned. You can give me the fail first if you like. [Laughs]

Kishan: I think, I mean, sure. We can start with either of them. So let’s start with the fail.

David: Go for it.

Kishan: Okay. So in terms of the failing-wise, well, I guess the biggest lesson that was, so all of us in our team our kind of developer background and we just love building stuff. So I think, at least in the early days, we were just building so many features and so many product—so many features et cetera. And definitely, no doubt, that was kind of like creating a lot of bugginess and we couldn’t focus on one product—on part of that product, making it super awesome. So I think that was like the hardest lesson that we learned by spending a lot of money and time as well obviously. We were just doing a lot of product development without actually launching it. I mean, for example, we even launched an app with—so the whole problem was that the developer, they have to actually integrate our SDK so what we figured out was maybe we can launch an app onto the App Store with our UXCam SDK, where they can kind of—it will basically be a web browser and they can kind of record this web browsers to understand how UXCam works. And yeah, that was a huge failure because [laughs] first thing, I mean, the messaging was completely, we had to think about the messaging on how we’re gonna talk about this app versus the company would be like, “Okay, are you guys developing apps? Are you guys doing SDK’s?” And it was just really such a waste of time when we did that, yeah. So I think being super selective as a developer, that was one thing that we learned in a really, really hard way.

David: How did you back out of that? So if you started off with sort of like a whole bunch of different features, how did you ultimately subtract down to the things you thought were really gonna work? I kinda think about it as kind of like a product market fit question, that you sort of throw a lot of stuff up against the wall, and you know, if you’re a pure lean startup guy, you go out and actually interview people, but the reality is you can’t interview enough people to know whether you’ve got a really strong signal or you do some web stuff, you know, web advertising or something to try and actually get a sense that there’s a strong signal for this, that you built some stuff and then you had to figure out what to take away. How did you go about that? Did you keep it in there and you just—you know, you hide it away or did you keep it in there, just remove it altogether?

Kishan: We actually hided away for a while initially. In the beginning, we hide it away and that was actually a really tough decision because when you have sort of spent like a couple of months working on this really—where you think kind of like this the next big thing, and later on when you realize that, “Okay, shit. No one really cares about it.” And yeah, that was really hard. So initially, we actually hide it out and people didn’t even bother to kind of ask us where is it, and we need this thing? So we had this hypothesis where we realize that people are really interested in just replaying the videos and not necessarily in a lot of analytics which kind of they do get it from different companies anyways. So yeah, I mean, we started stripping it down one by one, and to the point where we are, but we are kind of taking one feature away, people who are kind of okay with it, and just also in a lot of conversation with their customers as well. So it was trying to figure out how you can kind of give the absolutely core bit to the user without—and not anything more that would overwhelm them, yeah.

David: Yeah, right. Okay, so you say, okay, you gotta kinda talk to your current users to know that they’re not gonna shoot you if you actually remove that particular thing or at least you can manage those small ones that are just kinda hanging onto that feature.

Kishan: Right. I mean, we did use a lot of analytics in terms to understand how many—well, what are the features they’re using, but the fact that it was beginning days, there wasn’t really many users to kind of—and just really make a clear decision, whether it’s actually, you know, like not many people are using it and we can take it off because we just didn’t have that many users. So it was more about talking to the customers and also using our hypothesis to just doing it and we are always ready to back it at really back again, if necessary.

David: Yeah, right. Yeah, we’ve got a similar thing. And this is conversation that’s been going on for six months, I think at the least, which is way in the early days we had the ability to—or we added the ability to send crash reports to the system and so into StreetHawk. So anybody who was using StreetHawk could get crash reports and there was developers that told us that they wanted that, and the value prop in terms of StreetHawk, in terms, of you know, an engagement automation is that you can target users who have been having crash reports in the past and tell them that’s been fixed or something like that.

Kishan: Right.

David: But, you know, there’s a view inside the system that actually is crash reports, and it’s just kinda thrown in there. And there’s no way you can say that’s anything that’s useful when you can go out there and Crashlytics or another solution like that.

Kishan: Right.

David: Which actually focuses on it and does a really great job. And we should just really take it away, but for some reason, people—the developers, have the view that it should hang around for a while whereas really, we should probably—we should probably subtract it. And so now, make myself a to-do job to go ahead. [Laughs]

Kishan: Certainly. Just take it away for a few days and see if somebody yells at you, and if he doesn’t then you’re okay.

David: Yeah. [Laughs]

Kishan: Most likely, they weren’t.

David: Alright, very good.

Kishan: But that’s what we learned, really. Yeah.

David: Okay. So what’s one win you’ve had sort of through the stages? What’s really worked? Where did you kind of get an inflection point, either in the apps or in the current business?

Kishan: Yeah, I mean, as you know, right, the fact that we are in SDK space and there’s this huge boom of SDK and I think the biggest inflection point for us was how do we—so we had a huge problem at some point and that’s something that’s one of the metrics of your constant improving. So yeah, we had a big problem in terms of the users who signs up to the point where they actually integrates the SDK, and that’s actually one of the key metrics for us in terms of how we are doing, how well we are doing. So yeah, I mean, we tried a lot of things to kind of get that number higher and yeah, I mean, we tried—so one of the things that we tried was actually just calling people as soon as they sign up. And it was quite interesting. That actually worked out really well for us for the time even though it was not really fully-scalable but it was actually working really well for us. We would call them and they would kind of like—just the fact that we called him, the people who used to call him, they would kind of like almost certainly integrate the SDK, so that was one thing but also, we invested on a lot of time and user onboarding. I mean, onboarding was just kind of like how do we make it so simple and so easy to kind of integrate the SDK? So we spent a huge time and I think that was like definitely no doubt the biggest win we have so far. We did a lot of things like calling people, but also just how the flow works in terms of when they come into our page to help the next step of inviting their developers to integrate the SDK. If they are not a developer or just taking off so many touch points and making it easy.

David: Yeah, in fact you gave me some names when we first talked about various UX gurus. Perhaps you’d like to repeat them here, the people that have really inspired you from an onboarding perspective?

Kishan: Sure, yeah. I think so Samuel Hulick, he is definitely—he’s probably one of the key leader in user onboarding at the moment. And Samuel Hulick, he has a really great website, www.useronboard.com. And also, he does a lot of tear-downs for kind of like different apps, different websites, so his website and his product is definitely something to check out when you’re kind of want to understand more about user onboarding. But besides him, Aarron Walter who is actually on MailChimp. So he’s actually the UX guy for MailChimp and he wrote a really awesome book for designing product with emotions. And that’s actually a really interesting aspect as well in terms of how you bring emotions to your product to make folks—to make users want to commit to your product, a) want to commit to your product, but b), follow through and kind of like be successful. So Aarron Walter and Samuel Hulick, definitely they are a couple of guys who you should check it out.

David: Very good tips. Yeah, I’m sure people who are both developing apps and people who are developing dashboards would really like could use some guidance in that department. Certainly, we definitely feel that we need that. [Laughs]

Kishan: Yeah.

David: It’s always the way. You gotta make it as smooth as possible through the funnel as you possibly can.

Kishan: Totally.

David: Alright. That’s great. So thank you very much for your time. Tell us a little bit, just give us the name. Give us again a quick snapshot of what you’re doing just so people know on the takeout.

Kishan: Sure. So yeah, we hope companies improve user experience of their product by recording and analyzing what users do inside your app, so you can literally see how exactly users are using your app and where they’re struggling, so you can improve the user experience of the product. And yeah, I mean customer experience is the key for your product’s success, so definitely invest as much time as possible improving user experience of your product.

David: And is there a free trial?

Kishan: Ah yeah, we have a 14-days free trial, so check out UXCam.

David: Okay. Alright. Thank you very much. Really good to talk to you and I look forward to getting this particular one out. I’ll try and get this out before Christmas anyway. So that would be great. Thanks a lot for your time.

Kishan: Awesome. Thanks, David.

David: Okay. Thanks, mate.

Kishan: Catch you later. Buh-bye.

David: Bye.

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