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An Update on FeedBlitz's Usability Project

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Since posting on September (yes, it was that long ago) on FeedBlitz's UI, we've been diligently beavering away to provide the basis for a whole new user experience for email and social media marketers. The process began in earnest in October, and has been on the go ever since.

So this is the first in an occasional series of posts that will highlight where we are in the process and give you clues about where we're going. As we get closer to release I'll be telling you more about the beta versions and how you can get a jump start on using the new service.

Now Tell Me, Who Are You?

The very first step in the process was to take a long hard look at the people who use the site and why. We thought about the people we'd like to use the site, and who aren't.  It's the intersection of current and future markets with the individuals who are in them. Obviously, we also added in the feedback we've received about what works about FeedBlitz as well as the parts that are tougher to use.

We eventually drew up a set of "personas" that we used to name and think about each of these users, the markets and organizations they represent. For example, there's "Bob the Blogger", "Sarah the Savvy" and "Tom the Technical" (yes, I have this tragic alliteration problem). We also have "Suzy Subscriber" representing the recipients of the content we distribute on your behalf. And ten others! Each persona has multiple attributes that cover technical sophistication, the role of social media in their online marketing, how long they've been at it and more. 

When the process wrapped up we had built fourteen distinct personas - too many - but they all represented a few different classes of user. Satisfying the needs of these major user categories at a high level (and deciding which ones we're NOT going to address right now), and ensuring that we meet the needs of the personas that they contain, have been the driving force behind the work on what has become FeedBlitz 4.

A New Navigational Architecture

It would have been really tempting to go the "lipstick on the pig" route and simply pretty up the site, move a few options around and declare victory. A short term win, perhaps.

Not for us, though.

The more we thought about the personas and how these people thought about their work, their blogging and our role in their ecosystem, we realized that we couldn't just tart things up and be done. Instead, we saw an opportunity to completely rethink and realign how FeedBlitz works to more closely match the way the personas thought about and worked in their online presence. Going back to square one with the personas was the key to generating the insights we needed.

I'm not going to give away much more at this stage, but the end result has not only yielded clearer, faster and more natural navigation, but also enabled significant other usability and productivity changes we can deliver to radically simplify common pain points like simply getting started effectively and integrating social media.

(We've shown a few friends of the firm an alpha version of the new UI. Everyone has found it to be easier to use and to find what they need; and everyone has pointed out ways we can make it even better yet. Thank you!)

Still, to give you a taste of what we're up to, here's a quick example of what the new approach and new UI now enable. Instead of all the screens you see in this tutorial to set up your mailing list: www.feedblitz.com/help/tour.asp, the new UI will have exactly one screen you need to complete to get started. That's not a typo: Just one. And it does SO. MUCH. MORE.

More Than This...

So yeah, it's a pretty big deal. By taking our time and thinking about what we offer you from a wholly new perspective is liberating. We have started to flesh out a fascinating new capability that has surprised and intrigued 100% of the people who've seen it. But more on our super secret WOW factor in a later post!

With FeedBlitz 4 we firmly believe we're more than meeting the needs of our current users; better yet, we will be able to more than meet the needs of the additional target markets - and their users - that we've identified. It's exceeding my expectations across the board.

When, When, When?!

OK, such a large rethink and reimplementation requires a lot of work; we're not done. It's going to be worth it, though, so hang in there.

We have a very functional alpha version and our plan is to have a private beta of FeedBlitz 4 running next month (March) with a public beta to follow when it's ready. So, in a sense, very, very soon. A matter of weeks.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for more occasional updates on FeedBlitz v4. As we get closer I'll let out some screenshots for you; I intend to make you all as excited as I am once you get to see it!


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do not respond to support requests or phone calls. I have an issue with your company double billing me for 8 months even though I requested by phone, email and through your support feature on numerous occasions that you stop. I cancel the account yet you are still charging me. You owe me the overdraft fees charged by my bank. I am severly disappointed by the poor service provided. It's a shame you do not care. Account 12009678 successpathways1@msn.com

7:51 AM, February 28, 2011  
Blogger Phil Hollows said...

Hi there: We don't have any records of your inquiries but I'm sorry we missed them, for whatever reason. We actually consistently win high praise for customer service - - so this is puzzling; we'll look into why your messages weren't received.

I see that you actually canceled the account you mention 3 days ago which was first billed in November 2010. We'll refund the last 2 months and close your account completely for you.

9:40 AM, February 28, 2011  
Blogger Phil Hollows said...

Forgot the service link: http://feeds.feedblitz.com/favorites

9:41 AM, February 28, 2011  

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