Three Steps to Introduce New Features to Your Users

If you’ve developed an online or mobile application for users, you are bound to update new features to them on a consistently timed system. As a dedicated worker for your application, you are already aware of this. In many cases, however, we are unaware of when and how to introduce those features to our users without intervening with their existing, already-working user experience.

Introducing new features to your users can be tricky at times. It can interrupt the experience with which they are already user to interacting. The feature may not work well with your existing platform because it hasn’t been tested enough before launching. Additionally, what you thought could have been done better, was already working in the first place. The issues are unlimited. If you are going to introduce new features to your product, there are certain guidelines that must be followed.

When I was thinking about introducing these guidelines, I thought it would be best to give you a look into personal experiences from the voice of other end-users and application owners. During my research, I found an interesting discussion on Quora which highlighted this specific topic. The discussion yielded the following answers:

Notify the user of the new features upon log-in

Chris Wren, Product Engineer from San Francisco, believes that you should let the users know that new features were added to the product. This way, it will instill awareness for them to start using this feature. Google does a nice job with this in Gmail, says Michael Flanigan, Operations Manager at Hypepotamus. They give a notification that entices the user to use the new feature. Provide added value to your system by having a list of all updates and new features that were added to your system. Meetup does a great job of this, says Leonid Knyshov, Founder of Vostimonal. They provide a comprehensive list of new features, the date, and an explanation of the feature. Keep your users in the loop – they will truly appreciate this!

Provide a call-to-action for the user to discover the feature

Continuing on what Michael introduced, Junqiang Chen, a seasoned Product Designer, also believes that notifying the new feature when the app is launched is a good idea, but not always effective. So, what does he do? He sets up a trigger that explains the user how to use the feature. That way, a surprise element will be added and it will allow the user to find your added new feature.

 Explain to the user why the features adds value

While Matt Khoury, Product Manager at Thomson Reuters, agrees with the other insight provided, he believes one more step should be taken when introducing a new feature. With any product, it is not enough to just introduce it and its features. It is very crucial to explain to your customer how and why the product feature adds value to the product. Matt introduces a few ways to relay new features to the customer. (Here is where some marketing skills will come in handy.)

  • Offer release notes of the new features (see Meetup’s example above)
  • Provide a “new since your last visit” pop up screen – this will help users when they launch the application and onboard them more easily.
  • Beginning a marketing email campaign that will nurture your customers along the renovation and new version phases.
  • Display clear and concise marketing messages, with clear call-to-actions, on your homepage that will entice the users to click.

While these steps might seem a bit broad in certain points, they will guide you in the right direction to adjusting the introduction of new features based on your product type and target market.