Announcing Announcements

Since you’ve been gone, here’s what has changed

Announcements in GoSquared

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

We spend every day working on features big and small to make GoSquared better for our customers. The team push out updates and changes every hour of every day. We go to great lengths to focus on improving GoSquared based on customer feedback coupled with our own vision.

Despite all of these updates, it’s weird when someone emails us to ask us the ETA on a feature we pushed out 3 weeks ago. It’s clear that despite a loyal monthly newsletter following, the GoSquared Blog, and our Twitter account, a huge percentage of our customers don’t even notice the improvements we make to GoSquared every week because we don’t manage to tell them.

With our biggest year of product updates ahead of us, we’re introducing Announcements: one place for our customers to find out what’s new in the product.

How it works

Icons for different types of announcements in GoSquared

Despite being a little “meta”, we treated updating our customers about new features as a feature in itself.

Like everything we work on at GoSquared, we specced out the project before designing a single screen or writing a line of code. We specced out why we would want to notify our customers of new features. We made calls on when and how we would notify customers. We outlined the basics of how the team would write updates and when they would post them.

Here’s how it works: every time you go to GoSquared, we check if there are any new announcements that you haven’t read – if there are new updates, we’ll show a small unobtrusive notification in the GoSquared sidebar. When we make a new announcement, we’ll push it to you right away so you’re kept in the loop all the time.

For every update, we outline what’s changed and why it’s important for you to know about it in a couple of sentences. For more significant updates, we link out to a relevant blog post or support doc.

Attention without interruption

Screenshot of the new Announcements feature in GoSquared

When building features like this, it can often be easy to forget the primary reason people use your product. When people sign in to GoSquared, it’s not to check for product updates. Our customers sign in to see what their visitors and users are doing in their app or on their site, and to get an instant view of how their website (and, ultimately, their business) is performing.

With this in mind, we didn’t want to interrupt our customers from their day-to-day activities for anything other than huge changes and updates. We indicate new updates, features and announcements in a clear but unobtrusive manner – the “Announcements” item in the sidebar gets brighter and bolder, and shows a number to indicate how many announcements have been made since you last checked them out.

No alerts, no modals, no nasties.

Inspired by Wufoo

If you’re running a startup (or working in one) and you haven’t watched any of the talks from Y Combinator’s How to Start a Startup class at Stanford University then please stop reading and go and watch one right now. We’ll wait. Done? As they put it, it’s everything they know about how to start a startup, for free, from some of the world experts. I am sure you’ll agree.

Kevin Hale, Founder of Wufoo and Partner at Y Combinator, gave a great talk on “How to Build Products Users Love”, in lecture 7 of How to Start a Startup.

Kevin discusses a bunch of things they did at Wufoo to make their customers happier and more fanatical about what they were doing. The key idea that stood out for me was their “Since you’ve been gone, here’s what has changed” list of updates that gets shown to users when they sign in.

Kevin talks about why and how they built the feature at 27m 10s in the following video (if you have time, watch the whole thing!):

That’s not all

We wanted to get this feature out as soon as possible this year as we have a lot to show you, and we want every one of our customers to see the updates ahead of us. The best announcement is yet to come…

Check out what has changed since you last signed in

or if you haven’t used GoSquared yet: Try GoSquared for free.

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