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Why We Didn’t Wait to Launch Our Membership Product

When I learned we had a 76 percent completion rate on membership signups, I was beyond excited. The first recruiting push for our new research opt-in program, the Valley Bank CX Co-Lab, was a success. Our community was growing and we were closer to our 2020 goal of 1000 members.

Our Minimum Lovable [Membership] Product was functional and desirable — people could successfully signup to be a member and they were excited about doing so. And, we didn’t overcommit resources along the way.

The Valley Bank CX Co-Lab was shipped in 42 days.

An alternative old-fashioned approach would have started with meetings about meetings followed by a large financial commitment to hire external consultants to design and develop the CX Co-Lab. We would spend more time and money and still be at risk of launching a product people wouldn’t use or find relevant.

It wasn’t that I didn’t recognize the CX Co-Lab user experience was far less superior to other similar products, for example the Salesforce User Research Program or Google’s Program. It was that I was confident it was functional and good enough because I tested it.

Test and Learn

Before launch, often teams find themselves asking what does “good enough” mean or when are we “done?”

This is partly because iteration cycles are blurry. We are not sure when we’ll be able to get to the user stories that fell below the line into the mysterious dark hole called the backlog. Trust me, when we mapped the user experience for the CX Co-Lab, we sent a lot of user stories to the backlog.

It’s also because we lack confidence. The success of the product isn’t certain and we want to do everything we can to make sure it is successful.

So, how do we gain the confidence to launch? First, determining what success looks like and how you’ll measure success is important. Then, you can test against those measurements before you launch to gain confidence.

For the CX Co-Lab, I used a first impression and usability test to learn:

Is the goal of the CX Co-Lab community clear?

Can people signup quickly?

Are the questions and options required for signup understood and easily answered?

Do people understand what will happen after they join?

Are people excited about joining? What are they most excited about?

It took about one hour to design the first impression and usability test, two hours for 15 participants to complete the test and a few hours to analyze the results. With little effort, I was able to get answers to our questions.

Here’s what some people described as the goal of the CX Co-Lab:

The goal of the community is to share feedback about existing or new products/services and to get rewarded for your participation.

The goal is for a community to work together to make banking a better experience.

It is to get feedback through research so that it can understand what customers think of products or services so it can help them.

And, here is how people ranked the signup process:

We learned the reward for participating in the research was the most exciting part of the membership, so we put this at the top of our recruiting messaging. The signup process also needed some cleanup, specifically the way we were communicating progress, so we updated some of the headings at each step and added a progress bar.

Let’s Ship It and Iterate

If you never ship, you’ll never learn what works once your Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) is out in the wild. There’s also a sizable risk of not launching at all because you couldn’t agree on what was “good enough” or “done” before a shift in leadership happens or a competitor changes the landscape.

Find ways to build confidence throughout your design and development process, from discovery to execution. You’re never really fully done. Once you ship your MLP, you need to keep research in the mix. Test early, test often. Never stop asking and answering questions.

People often ask me, “When is the right time to think about research?” My response is always, “As soon as you have a question.”

Join Us

Valley Bank is hiring for its UX Research, UX Design and Experience Strategy disciplines. Send me a DM if you are interested.




Researcher. Designer. Human. Currently hiring!

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Laura Cochran

Laura Cochran

Researcher. Designer. Human. Currently hiring!

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