Users want new features, that’s always been a fact of life for companies like us. But I recently encountered something new: user after user demanding a feature we’d had for more than a year. It was a huge “wait, what?” moment for me, and getting to the bottom of it led to some big learnings and changes. Because, as it turns out, having a cool feature doesn’t matter if nobody uses it.
We realized we’d made a terrible mistake
The feature in question lets you send your resume to friends and get their comments and feedback on it. I’ll be totally honest, when we launched it more than a year ago, our plan was to get more signups. We’re a small startup and there’s a ton of pressure to grow fast. That’s why your friends were required to create an account in order to give you feedback, which would lead to more new users. But that choice made it harder for our users to get the feedback they wanted. We were thinking about us growing and not about you making a better resume.
So, we made a tough decision…
After yet another user asked if there’s an easier way to get feedback, we knew we needed to change something. First, we had to change our mindset and start thinking about the user before anything else.
Ultimately, we decided to remove the signup requirement to leave comments on a resume. Yes, we’re not going to get new users, but we want to make sure that this process is as easy as possible. Now, you just open the link, view the resume and leave comments. Even your grandma can leave comments on it, and we never underestimate the power of feedback from grandma.
…and learned the power of social validation
Every single user we interviewed used one word when talking about getting feedback on their resume: Confidence. The feeling of an imaginary pat on the shoulder and words: “You can do it!” made a big difference in how they felt going into an interview. Getting feedback and comments from people who know them best made all the difference for the people we talked to. It turns the solo-process of resume creation into a team effort.
That got me reading more about social validation. One article perfectly summed up what I’d learned, explaining: “When we are uncertain about what to do we will look to other people to guide us. And we do this automatically and unconsciously.”. The best way to create a feature that solves problems is to learn the problems from people that have them. Our users did guide us to make this feature better. Listening to their stories, we learned that we should think less about our growth and make something that is going to give them real value.
Another lesson was that everyone needs to send their resume for a fresh look and that it should be easy. If some of our users feel more confident after a few comments from their friends, why not harness that powerful social validation yourself? After screwing things up a little, we want to make our product better. More importantly, we want to build a product that gives value to you first, not us. So if you want to feel more confident in your resume, go to your resumes’ dashboard and start asking your friends for feedback.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have any, so feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.