What has changed in your product in 5 years?
Seven years ago, I used to learn English in Lingualeo and now I have decided to do it again because of grammar training. I have started using this product and noticed no significant changes since my last visit. Despite that, I’m sure that the developers of Lingualeo spent a lot of time changing and improving it. And one question popped up in my head.
How much has your product changed in the 5+ years?
I remembered a few products I used five years ago. And I compared its state to the current. When we talk about the existing products - they change very slowly. Usually, we see cosmetical UI changes only. However, besides the UI, developers typically spend a lot of time increasing operational efficiency, exporting data and visualizing it, preparing reports for the business, etc. Also, there is room for new projects or features that complement but do not replace the core product.
I have started thinking about standard development cases and came up with a short development manifest.
Product development manifest
1) Core functional won’t change
It is hard to imagine significant product changes in the core of the product if it already has Product Market Fit. The only significant changes to the core products in my practice were reengineering or refactoring for further updates (except UI).
Because of that, it is essential to determine the core functionality correctly and develop it with care. The further evolution of the core functionality is developing additional features.
2) Frontend will change
It is important to keep UI modern and clear. And usually, more than fixing CSS is required. Thus, updating UI is one of the essential changes in the different products. Sometimes it could be cheaper to rewrite the product’s frontend entirely, and sometimes it is not. So you have to find a better approach to developing the frontend in your situation, but keep in mind that it will definitely change.
3) Keep analytics separately
If your product works with data, someday you, as a developer, will be asked to make some reports. Therefore, keeping analytics separate, especially from code, is much better. Nowadays, we have many excellent analytic products, such as Tableau, Amplitude, etc. Thinking about it before developing the core part would be an excellent idea. Then, at some point, it starts to save development time.
4) Make the core functionality stable and invest in its UI
Users use your product because it helps them to solve their problems. And usually, that’s on the core functionality of your product. It is a matter of time before the user finds another product if yours is not working correctly or is unstable. You can’t keep users with features if your product has problems with basic functionality.
5) Follow the trends and competitors
If your core is stable, you can test new hypotheses quickly. Some of them may become new core features someday.
6) Shutdown the features you can’t support
You don’t need those features if you don’t have a resource to support them. They take your time and attention. At some point, they could harm.
I haven’t noticed any additional features in Lingualeo since 2015. It signals that they are focusing on the core product.
Instead of conclusion
It was fun to realize that seven years of absence could lead you to such straight and apparent thoughts. It is worth paying attention to negative and positive feelings. They can hide behind some exciting ideas.