It is the end of the year so always a good time to do some retrospective ("What have you done?") and create a New Year's Resolutions list that works:
For the blog retrospective, I guess it is time to fulfill the promise on talking about build-measure-learn cycle which was mentioned in: Framing the Problem and Cost. Also, it totally fits with the theme on doing a retrospective and talking about a year end resolution list for what is next so let's go!
I first got in touch with the build-measure-learn feedback loop when I was reading The Lean Startup book by Eric Ries. If you are not familiar with the book and the concept I recommend this link for a great summary.
The TL;DR version is: The Lean startup is a way/technique/methodology/framework for digital product development in which its core goes around the build-measure-learn feedback loop. You build something and put out there (like a Minimum Viable Product - MVP), you measure the results to see if real progress is being made or not and in the final learn phase you decide what to do next: persevere or pivot to something else.
If after reading this you are like "How different from Design Thinking or Agile (e.g. Scrum) Lean Startup is? What does it bring to the table?" I hear you! I kind of had the same feeling and when going online looking for answers, it was not easy but I found the below gif (from this blog post) and it was a great A-HÁ moment for me. I hope it does the same with you:
Let's admire once again, now in a static image format:
This is remarkable! But, if you want a different (or somehow similar) perspective here is another reading that explores how Design Thinking, Lean and Agile work together.
What have I done for the blog? Let's talk about it!
Well, actually, we don't have much to talk about in this part. I built/published this blog and with today's post I've written so far 12 articles (yey!).
I tried my best to keep up with the commitments I made in the Hello World post.
If you recall, I took some time prior to putting this blog together to have a better sense of what I wanted to accomplish and the features I wanted for the blog. In one of those moments, I filled a Lean Canvas and there we can check the Key Metrics I'm following on a monthly basis:
|Key Metric||Pre-defined Value||Measured Value (Actuals)|
|1 post per month||12 in the year||12 published posts|
|Users view per post||40 per post||Average - 69.81 |
Lower month - 31 (Aug)
Higher Month - 125 (Jan)
|Cost per user||0.15 USD per user||Average - 0.067 USD |
Lower Cost Month 0.037 (Jan) -
Higher Cost Month - 0.1513 (Aug)
|1 new learning per post||12 in the year||42|
Details on a monthly basis because why not:
|Month||post||Users||Cost per user||Learning|
Why the number 42 is fixed on Learnings? Well, it is a special number. It is the answer to life, the universe and everything! 😁
There are other things I measure such as: Page views (which post was most clicked/read?), Referrals (where does readers come from?) or a specific thing I want to have numbers for a specific hypotheses (is the number of users increase if I do social medial marketing on Monday or on Friday?). All of that are helping me with the next phase which is...
Now that you saw I have a table/excel file where I'm measuring the Key Metrics on a post/monthly basis the next thing is formulate and continue testing new hypotheses and improving the blog. Answering those two questions helps a lot: What have I learned? What should I change?
- 1 post per month: Oh boy it was hard and sometimes I wanted to break the promise but I did it! 12 posts if we count this one! Maybe is it time to revisit this number for next year? I guess so! Here goes the new year resolution list for next year: 8 posts.
- Users view per post: Except from August which has the lower users / page view counts things are pretty consistent and I'm happy with the results. I'll Keep going and persevere with the blog next year!
- Cost per user: Same here, August was the max cost per user (isn't that ironic? the highest cost per user post is the one I talked about Cost!) but on average cost is below 0.07 per user which is half what I imagined initially.
- 1 new learning per post: I had countless learnings on each post. In the beginning when I was doing several minimum improvements the learnings were even higher but it never stopped.
I also want to tell you a real story about pivoting or giving up "features" that didn't work. I didn't know which social media would work the best for "presenting" the blog posts so I have created accounts at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and decided to use my personal account on LinkedIn.
In the first post I noticed that the ones that got more attention were in order: Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and I got only 1 reaction and like on Facebook (that was me liking the page from my personal account). I was intrigued like what happened here?
I noticed that I was doing two things with Instagram and Twitter: Posting the new blog post in the Bytes with Coffee profile AND sharing it with my personal account as well but I haven't done so with my personal Facebook account (because I never really use it).
With that I built a new hypothesis: If I share the post in my personal profile as well the numbers will improve.
So in the February post I shared in my personal Facebook profile as well and what happened? 2 reactions, the number of likes in the page didn't change (only 1 and oh, remember that is also me with my personal account) and absolutely no one clicked in the link I shared on Facebook. Well, time to face the truth, maybe the blog readers are not there! I tried again later on to share once more in my personal profile and the results were similar. So, what should we do about it?
I decided to stop publishing on Facebook keeping the focus on the subscribers (e-mail form), Instagram, Linkedin and Twitter because those are actually the ones who are clicking and reading something here. Also, removed the Facebook icon from the social banner at the bottom of the blog. I could probably invest some time on the "Set your page for success" button that Facebook provides or invite people to like the page but I simply don't have the energy with the current numbers I got compared to the other 3 social networks.
The build-measure-learn feedback loop always remind me of a LinkedIn post I saw once (and can't find it again or the source to link it here) but it is so good:
"Treat all new features as guilty until proven innocent"I saw it on LinkedIn and can't find the post / source
Every unused feature will eventually hit you with unexpected bugs, more code to review, extra user interface complexity or bad user experience so it is super important (and very hard sometimes) to have the necessary maturity to interpret the numbers, make decisions, test hypothesis and in this case: Let it go!
I hope you too are having fun reading because I'm definitely having it!
See you next year!