Friday, November 20, 2015

Data Driven Product Design Enabled By Application Usage Tracking

A couple of years back I read a book about how buildings are reshaped by their occupants after the architects who built them are long gone. It is called How Building Learn. What happens after they are built.   It got me thinking about what happens to software products after the designers who build them move on to other assignments. I wrote my thoughts down in a post titled Landlords Vs Building Architects to document my thought on how product managers of cloud products needs to think about product design.

Six months back I joined Castlight Health to build a product called Castlight Action. Action is a tool that helps benefits leaders get the most out of their benefits strategy by improving benefits utilization, reducing costs, and improving benefits satisfaction.

Right from day one I requested my team to think like a land lord rather than think just like an architect. I asked them to think not only about building a great product, but also learn how it is used after it is built and use that learning to improve the product in the long run. I told them that we are a cloud product and we have the responsibility to not only build the product but also operate it flawlessly, at a reasonable cost and improve it continuously based on what we learn.

David Tischler under the guidance of Alka Tandon, took responsibility for putting the underpinnings in the product that help us track usage, conduct experiments and, based on our findings, prioritize our roadmap to reshape the product. We are using some cutting edge tools, chosen by Anumeha Goel Dhanrajani from our strategic analytics team, to track not only pages but also every action and every user flow in the application. Rather than make tracking and internal reporting an after thought, we are putting the necessary instrumentation in place behind every event to do the following.

1. Help our product managers with real time information about how how their user flows are performing.
2. Help our user experience designers with real time information about how their experience design is performing.
3. Help our content strategy managers and clinicians with real time information about how each and every piece of content is performing.

Since every one of them will have this information, we are laying the foundation for a better chance of success from day one.

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