Paul Graham’s advice to entrepreneurs is simple – “Make something people want.” Make being the easy part and what people want being the much harder part. In the startup world, there are several interesting techniques for figuring out what people want. Customer Development, User Surveys, Crowdsourced idea generation etc. However my recent favorite is Swiftype’s weekly analytics email. Let me explain.
Quickly See What People Are Searching For
The following screenshot is from Swiftype’s sample report:
The first section of the email let’s you see at a glance what your users are searching for. We use Swiftype to power our documentation search, so our search terms tell us what our users most need help with. The top search for us right now is “email.” This make senses because our users typically want to know how to setup email. The top few keywords gave us a good sense of what our users are looking for right after signing up and have helped us shape up our product tour.
Figure out What New Stuff to Build
The second section of the email is more interesting. You can see which searches returned no results at all:
In our case, the missing searches could mean one of the two things: * A feature/functionality that we have but which is missing documentation. * A feature that we don’t have.
For us it’s mostly the latter. For example the top result for us in this category is “reports”, since we don’t have reporting yet (our early adopters did not care for it but we are working on it now). Using this feature we also realized that people are looking for integrations like Pivotal, JIRA etc. Based on this, we decided to work on a hosted app platform that we will be rolling out in a few weeks.
Either way, we learn exactly where we need to improve. It could be improvements to an existing feature (adding documentation, improving the UX) or ideas for new features. Used with other techniques like user interviews and analytics, Swiftype has really helped us improve our app. In the future, we plan on using Swiftype to power our app directory search so we can find out ideas for new apps. The same technique can be applied to your marketing site as well.