Last week we had our first Picle strategy meeting since getting back to blighty from SXSW. We have digested a lot of feedback from tweets, emails, reviews, articles, as well as testing it out ourselves, and it was time to step back and take a look at where we're at.
We started off by evaluating how the launch went and how people have responded to the concept of Picle. Stuart drew this rather rudimentary graph of the potential life span of Picle.
The circle represents our current status.That spike is from the release and the fantastic publicity generated from SXSW. As I wrote in my last post we went to SXSW with 15 users and came back with 30,000.
To put this in a bit of perspective FourSquare arrived at SXSW 2009 with 50 users and left with 5,000 users
So now that we have that initial spike of users there will be an inevitable dip, downloads have dropped off a little since we arrived back, but we have broken the 45,000 download mark. According to Stuart's graph the app can go 2 ways.
1. We can trundle along steadily making changes in the app improving the user experience and making the whole thing a lot more polished. However, this route is doomed to fail, while the experience may get better the inability to attract new users and expose the app to a new audience will result in Picle fading away into the digital ether. This scenario is represented in the rather upsetting looking line A.
2. We stabilise the app and greatly improve the sharing features so that Picle is introduced to new audiences and users. Represented by line B.
Our MVP of Picle has validated the riskiest part of the proposition - that people want to combine pictures and audio and to string these together to create a story. The level of interest in the app so far and the number of different use cases we've seen prove that. As does the fact that people are bothering to give us feedback. As Eric Ries says, if people care enough to tell you your MVP sucks and how you should make it better, then you're on to something.
The next step is harder. We have to start making difficult decisions and prioritise what to do next - which of course also means not doing all of the things we'd like to. As Tim wrote in his last post
Prioritising things is very difficult. Our evolutionary journey has ingrained many instincts that conflict with this Lean approach. We humans all want more than we can eat
We have an interim release that is awaiting clearance in the app store now. This release has a number of bug fixes, much improved stability, and some quick win new features such as the ability to share via email and Twitter as well as the much faster tap focus camera Julian blogged
about. If all goes to plan this should go live next week.
But we're already working towards another release with more new functionality. I'd like to share with you what we're planning for that. With Stuart's advice in mind, here's a list of the 3 most important things that we are working on.
1. Develop frictionless sharing to multiple social platforms. A lot of the feedback we have received has been that people want to share seamlessly via social networks instead of having to grab the URL of a story/picle and share that manually. We expected that this would be the case when we developed the MVP and this is a validation of that.
2. Create an introduction page. At the moment the app is a bit sparse on how to use its features. We have been fielding a lot of questions around the difference between picles and stories as well as the different audio recording settings.
3. Create a login/sign up page. To find the signup page at the moment is a bit of a search (it's in the settings tab if you are still looking). People have been getting 500 & 502 errors meaning that they haven't yet signed up to the web service, so user's picles and stories are sitting idle on their phones. We need to develop a login/sign up page so that they can find their friends easily and start sharing their Picles immediately.
We have been working on some early prototypes which flesh out the user journey. I have added some preliminary sketches by Tom to give you an idea of the process we are thinking of.
The reason that we have only focused on these 3 things for now is because we want to get the next version of Picle into the hands of users quickly so we can see how those features will inform further releases. We've picked out the features we think are the most important to help Picle reach a wider audience and make it clear to new users how to use the app.
I want to stress that the release waiting for approval by the app store does not contain all of the above, but it will include a number of bug fixes, much improved stability, Twitter and email sharing, as well as the improved camera functionality.
If you look at Tim's iPhone App Icebox from his previous blog
you can see that we are working our way through it. The crosses mean completed tasks. The darker circles are the tasks we have bumped up the priority list.
We're keeping the development and design process for Picle as open as possible. We really appreciate the feedback we've received so far - please do keep it coming. Let us know what you think of the direction we're taking with Picle in the comments here or get in touch with us via Twitter.