“Walt loved technology. He didn’t understand it half the time, but the beauty of good technology was that he didn’t have to understand it - just use it.” -- Ridley Pearson.
Most of us can relate with Walt.
While WhatsApp, Uber, Ola, BigBasket, Flipkart and Amazon have made our lives easier, most of us don't know, and do not even need to know, what takes place at the backend, or how the technology was built, and this is what makes it great.
Pramod Jajoo, CTO, BigBasket, emphasised just that speaking at the sixth edition of MobileSparks held at ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru. Taking a leaf out of Stephen R Covey’s famous book 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People', Promod illustrated the seven principles that ensure building habit-forming products for the next billion.
“We can decide on how we can build powerful products using these seven principles,” said Pramod. The seven principles he highlighted are:
Use User Centric Design Philosophy (UCD)
Pramod explained UCD is a design process that focusses on user needs and requirements.
“As we build products for the next billion, it is important that we closely understand what the end user needs. They are the end consumers, and we need to build products that help them,” said Pramod.
In order to build strong UCD - one needs to:
- Understand user context
- Develop user requirements
- Design and develop, and
- Finally… evaluate
Pramod explained UCD involves users in all design and evaluation phases, and processes. Citing an example of BigBasket, Pramod said:
“Grocery shopping is a chore, and most people want it to get done quickly. Most end up buying the same, or similar, products most times. In order to ensure the process is simpler and quicker, we have something like a ‘Smart Basket’, which understands what a user wants basis his or her buying behaviour.”
Apart from that, BigBasket also has a voucher flow that shows every user available vouchers. Pramod explained most users do not remember voucher codes, and it becomes simpler if available vouchers are listed in the order flow.
2. Keep things simple
The beauty of technology isn't how complicated it is, but how simple it is.
“Not all users are engineers, or have MBA degrees. Thus, as engineers, we need to build for everybody and not just engineers,” said Pramod. It is important to keep user flows simple by removing friction using intuitive iconography and fonts, bringing consistency in nomenclature, and using intuitive fonts.
Citing an example of WhatsApp, Pramod said the app and its usage is intuitive, and has lesser friction with a unique way of identifying a user without a password.
3. Imbibe data orientation
“Data is a key driver of building great products. It is also important to use the gathered data to build better products,” explained Pramod. For that, the data needs to be actionable, measure insights, also have the ability to draw insights. The key to imbibing data orientation, according to Pramod, is by taking corrective actions based on what the data says.
“Start making apps smarter with notifications and personalisations,” said Pramod. The important thing is to measure this through NPS (Net Promoter Scores) and have the right cohort analysis. Also, it is important to experiment and measure, with a baseline and controlled groups.
4. Optimise performance and “non-happy” flows
Performance makes a huge difference in user experience and adoption. Citing an example of Google, Pramod said:
“Google found that an extra 0.5 seconds in search page generation time dropped traffic by 20 percent,” said Pramod. He added it is important to make user actions responsive, and if possible, instant. It is also important to tweak the flow to design for better performance. Pramod added:
“Most people only consider “happy flows” (when everything goes as expected). For “Non happy flows,” it is important to handle server and network failures gracefully. It is also important to not have dead ends, empty screens like an empty wish list or shopping carts.”
5. Go beyond metros and English speaking audience
Pramod believes it is important that when a product is being built for non-metros, it should be mobile first, and have a mobile web. “Build Progressive Web Apps, it also should have the ability to support through a varied set of devices,” added Pramod.
Things like screen size, working on spotty networks, battery loads, push notification reliability, and app size optimisations are critical to build sticky products.
6. Tailor solutions for cost/value conscious users
“Most Indians are very cost/value conscious. If you are competing on price, then benchmark prices regularly. You need to win on “price perception” and not just on price,” said Pramod.
It is therefore important to explain value propositions clearly, explain rationale for fees, and not have them hidden. It is also necessary to provide value. “Lower cost shouldn't mean cheap or shoddy,” he said.
7. Incorporate the learnings from “behaviour science” and Psychology
There are several techniques to create an emotional connect, effective story-telling, satisfying an itch, and designing habit-forming rewards. Understanding this well can have a profound effect on product success.
Citing an example from Economics Nobel Prize Winner - Richard Thaler’s reference to the Nudge book, Pramod quoted:
A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid.