LinkedIn principal author Doug Winnie describes the basics of looking at usage statistics. Usage statistics provide insight into trends that you can formulate questions and verify with users. Usage data can tell product managers about session time, user flow, and feature utilization rates that can impact future development.
- Once your product has been released, it's important to know how people are using it. You'll often find trends that can indicate when you need to make a change to the product. Here's some things to look for that can help you know when to make adjustment. While usage data from apps can tell you many things, I believe it's important to speak with an actual customer and confirm the data. Because it's just that, data. It isn't telling you the why, or how, of the user's behavior. It's just data.
That's why I usually refer to usage data as trends. Trends can be verified through conversations and research with actual users. But it isn't entirely actionable on it's own. Some trends can be confirmed or further researched with users and some of the most common trends I've seen are when sections of your product aren't used at all. By adding pings to a database, you can record which parts of the app get the most use, and which don't. You can then apply that information to your research phase of your next product iteration.
For example, in the next phase of development, you've planned a bunch of work to build out a specific feature of your product. But, you're post-release research shows the feature gets very little traffic. Based on that information, you need to verify if the work is even necessary. Is that feature valuable to your user, or perhaps it's more of a discovery issue and they can't find that feature at all. A second metric is to look at session time. This measures the amount of time the app is being opened and used actively.
While it's common for this to drop after the initial use of the product, it should remain steady at a certain point. If it continues to dip, then it's time to ask some questions. Are users not interested in the product anymore? Are they using a competitor's product? Does the problem you're trying to solve with the product no longer exist? Reduced session time and limited usage can help identify these types of issues. A good way to measure gaining trends is by tracking user scores and playtime.
For instance, if you have a slot machine game, you might find that users are using the app less and less at an alarming rate. When you look at the game metrics, you see that the win percentage is less than one percent. Something to verify with your users is if they felt the game was too hard and gave up. IF you changed the mechanics of the game to make it more winnable, that might improve active use of the product. Another good tool are user flow maps, sometimes referred to as cohorts.
This is when you map out what the users are doing from the beginning of their use of the product. You might find that users are using features A, B, and C, in that order, which is how the product was designed, and what you expected. It might also find a trend showing that a large number of people are using features A, D, and B, in that order, which you weren't expecting at all. You know that using the features in that order is not an optimized workflow.
So now, you could research and find ways to make that a more pleasant process for your users. Looking at product usage statistics is more than just counting the number of times a product was used and how many users you have. But it isn't the holy grail for product decisions. Product statistics are trends that create questions that you can ask and verify with your customers.
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