April's Fools as a feature validation service. Users aren't psychics. March'21 Update
The update comes a bit later than usual: would be weird to have posted it on April's Fools, and then the Easter holidays came. But here it is.
From a Pocket/Instapaper client to a standalone read later app
In March we shipped an iOS extension that lets users save articles directly to Alfread on their phones.
It means three things:
- Users don't have to have Instapaper/Pocket on their phones anymore since they can save to Alfread directly.
- Opens Alfread to a new category of users who either have never used Instapaper/Pocket or couldn't bother to recover their forgotten passwords.
- Makes it possible to innovate not just on the reading/resurfacing part but also on the saving one, all to help to read more of what you save.
On the last point: so, what's wrong with the current approach of saving articles for later?
The "later" part is quite ambiguous. A day or a year later?
Here was the first thought on how to improve it:
The idea was that every time you save an article, you'd have to answer when are you going to read it.
Requiring the user to make an action every time they saved something wasn't ideal, so we landed on something much simpler:
Instead of telling each time when the user was going to read it, they can add it to must-reads. Doing that would place an article on top of everything, just like that:
Alright, enough with this geekiness.
Another nice update was new sorting modes: shuffle and showing oldest articles first.
- Users aren't psychics
Who knew, right? You can apply this notion to everything but let's look at marketing and positioning.
Remember the last time you when discovered a new product. Probably you didn't spend more than 3 seconds before knowing if you want to explore more or not.
When working on something, it's easy to forget that potential users don't know as much as you do about it.
But products don't speak for themselves.
A product is only as good as its messaging for potential users. No matter how cool it is under the hood if it's not clear what it is.
Here's how I changed Alfread's copy to show its core value:
2. Validating feature ideas on April's Fools
We weren't planning on doing anything on April's Fools but it changed the same morning. There were some ideas that seemed funny, so why not try and do something?
The first one was collaborative reading: Figma/Google Docs style.
Here's another one:
2/3— Alfread (@AlfreadHQ) April 1, 2021
From dust to Alfreadust.
Now, when you open an article that was saved a long time ago, it will be covered in dust.
If you still want to read it, blow into the mic to clear it off: pic.twitter.com/7t3zXEkT7t
The funny thing was that people bought it:
Guys, is this upgrade live on Testflight? I see 0.1.2 (12) as the latest.— Ornaled Swijneger (@swijneger) April 4, 2021
Sooo, I guess, the features weren't that funny but apparently are something people want?
No more feeling guilty
Very impressed with the latest @AlfreadHQ beta. Nice concept! No more feeling guilty about my unread "Read Later" items pilling up.— David Mardones (@DavidMard00nes) April 4, 2021
That's it for March, see you in a month!
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