Business-focused topics from Jason and Kim. We’ll talk about how to know whether a new feature is going to be popular. What are some ways to see whether many people really need this or just a few noisy users. We also discuss realizing our team has a bias towards action and some ways to help us interview and hire the people that naturally have this bias.
Transcript: Season 2, Episode 15
Welcome back to that talking thing. I’m Kim I’m Jason. This is episode 15, season two, and we were talking about our favorite thing, not our children, our business as stop X. And there’s a good one coming up a phrase that I’ve been like reading recently. That’s really motivated me in changing the way I think about business.
But first let’s also talk about how do you know if a feature will be popular. Yeah. So I’m going to talk about a feature that’s been brought up repeatedly historically for our product. People have mentioned it and then we’ll decide maybe we’ll make a plan for how would you evaluate whether the popularity of this?
So, one thing is. WordPress user accounts. We’re a membership plugin for WordPress. So it tacks onto WordPress allows you to create members in your WordPress site that login can access private things. Um, you can do a paid membership or you can do a free membership. So for this feature, um, all WordPress user accounts require an email address.
People have long said, what if I don’t have users with email address? Is there a certain, uh, age that they’re not email users? Along with that. What do you do if somebody has an account with an email address and just wants to update their billing, doesn’t want to have to authenticate. Doesn’t want to have to log in.
So I guess the feature is kind of twofold, a user accounts without an email address or some kind of magic links that would come to you by email, and you could use to authenticate yourself without a password to manage your account. Whether it’s to update a payment method on file access and invoice, you see like magic links, a lot of places, whether it’s secure codes or, or secret code sent to you, all kinds of things.
So how would you even evaluate if we should do that? It’s been. In our internal channels for awhile and it’s tough. And I know why we have them because I think the notion is that this is easier. It’s less, you don’t even have an email, but not in this case. It’s like the internet expects you to have an email address and kind of accounting for those cases where you don’t have one, or you already have an account on the site is complicated.
And that’s why we keep kicking the can down the road. But it, um, we need like, There’s other stuff they’ll say, I want to be able to check out without an email address, but there’s probably like something else. We could get more specific about what they really need. Um, But it is, uh, yeah. So both of those things w cause people are asking for them, is it still a good idea to do this also came up again because we’re talking with a crypto protocol, which part of the unlock protocol and part of, uh, you know, crypto in general is kind of privacy.
And, uh, you know, you could sign in with a Ethereum wallet and we don’t know your email address, and that’s kind of one of the problems that has to be handled. And they’re kind of diving in head on. Um, like how about WordPress user count without an email? Um, and just try to fake it. Um, Hm. So how would we evaluate if it’s, I don’t, I don’t even, it’s funny.
Like, I, I believe people would use this and like I would, on my own side, I realized, yeah, that one where like, w uh, on the alumni association site, we imported a bunch of users and then they want to come donate, but they have an account that they mailed in 20 years ago. They don’t even know their past. And they say I’m going to donate a hundred dollars and says, well, we can’t donate.
You’re trying to donate with an email address as an account. You have to log in first. And I think there’s some things we can do. This is like tricky too, because you worry about privacy, but we can, um, take their money. Like, like if someone went to like dot com and put in your email address, And then said, I’m going to pay your cable bill and then explain to me to be like, whoa, sign in first before you pay, I would, we should actually test it out.
Like big companies do this, but I think they do. I think Netflix is like login and then we’re going to figure out your you and then charge you. But there, the thing where like, Hey, just let them pay and then don’t log them in, like our checkout logs you in. But if you were, if it was like, if we detect there’s a previous account, you know, just take their money and give them an error.
Like, Hey, I took your money, but you have to like also retrieve your account. Cause the thing is retrieving an account is so hard. Yes. I’m talking through this. She convinced me that that’s why you want to just take the money because no one’s going to do that. But the magic link thing is kind of cool when it works.
Hey, you got to log in to continue. And then the magic link is kind of one of the easiest thing. Like you already put in the email address. So. I guess it’s a way, this is also difficult privacy thing. Now your checkout form becomes a way to like validate someone’s end-user on your website. So you’d have to put at least, like, I think three sites are getting over these, but yeah, like kind of like, Hey, you know, this feature turns off.
If you change the email, a couple of times I could see this is like rabbit hole of like what needs to be done, just so that like people that can’t log in. Yeah. If you had a checkout form and you entered an email address and just took their money. I can change your membership account. You could be locked into a legacy, $147 a year version of paid memberships pro bought 10 years ago.
And now I could make you and lock you into a $600 a year where people have done this on sites. They do like donations, they’ll do light bulb to whatever, you know, um, and then they can like, see it come up and they’re like, look, they make fun of someone that for donating to the wrong. The magic link gets around that.
As long as you preserve and limit how many retries someone can do the other thing, and you don’t have to validate that. It’s true. You can just say if an email existed for this account, we have sent you a link. You don’t have to say great. I found you in an email was sent. I’ve seen it. If, if you exist, we did something and it’s not obvious on the browser, whether it’s true or false results.
I think the other direction, like some big sites go is, you know, that, which is something you want to look into also, which would complicate this in some ways dependent. What we do is like multi-step checkout where like you have to log in first, you either register a login or you you’re not even at the stage where you can pay.
Um, but it’s kind of like more self-contained for people and maybe you do lose customers like that. And there’s also these companies like fast and Stripe is house where maybe they’re working together. All these payment gateways and apple pay, Google pay is like, you’re on the checkout page. It’s like, I know you’re not logged into the site, but Google knows who you are and knows your credit card.
So just click a button and you’re good to go. So try to just like accelerate it. Cause you’re. But there’s also this thing of like, you know, my 90 year old grandfather is in like the car club and doesn’t have an email address, but he still wants to pay. So that’s the thing too, is like, there’s like, this comes out with a lot of these kinds of features.
There’s like four different flavors of this. And is there a solution that kind of solves all four different problems or is one more important than the other? Or like, if we solve one and I don’t know, they’re like kind of related, but. But how do we make a decision? Like we just, yeah. How do we make a decision?
This is important versus the other stuff that we do. I don’t know. Can I add one more version of this that people have asked for? Do we have a couple of minutes on this topic? Uh, people have asked for a membership account where somebody is the account holder for the access to the premium things. And someone is the account holder for the payment.
Yeah. We definitely want to management of the accounts. So really one person can get on the forums or carries the accreditation as the national nurses association of, of the United States of America. But somebody else is the person that makes sure that gets all billing related. It’s all expiration and cancellation related notices.
And can log in and update the payment method or update and repurchase the membership. So a billing contact that gets certain versions of messaging and can interact with the account. In certain ways we have like the sponsor members and all that we have now, there was also this like student teacher add on that.
I don’t know if we ever shared it that much. It was similar. And we want to take that concept and make basically like a new version of the sponsored members that supports that. Um, I think. You know, in our share, but it is important because there’s different things to operate that way. And it is like a slew of problems.
I’m sure like folks who also implement this or figure figuring out we implemented it for like Jose’s website value prop. Do you remember was like the first time we did it and like, um, the value prop accelerator back in like 2012 and some of the problems, some of the problems were as we maybe before that some of the problems.
Jason Kim checks out is paying for Jason Jason’s in the system. Jay’s like, this is really cool. I’m also going to buy it for something else. And then Jason buys his own account. So sometimes people are like parent accounts and child accounts simultaneously, or like, and then if, if should, should Kim stop paying for him?
Cause he was paying some other. So you ha you have to kind of have multiple memberships for user kind of in a sense sometimes. Cause it’s kind of like, do you have a charity parent or child account? All the edge cases get really weird, but maybe you just lock it down and say, Hey, like Jason can’t buy an account because he already has.
When you gotta talk to Kim and get her to cancel your account first, I would say if you’re a billing account contact, you’re not a WordPress user. You are a secondary email address on the account with the magic link functionality or some other. Password. So like I bill, but I can’t even access the content I got created.
Well, then the F 50% of people are going to create a second account just for themselves. And can you do it with the same email? Are they like, I think a lot of the time, the parent, the person who pays the bill also wants to kind of like read the content. At least in the one user we spoke to most recently not they were the administrator for a doctor’s practice and they w the doctor needed the access for the training for the accreditation.
For the community and they were strictly handling the billing processing for that goofy doctor who can’t do a bill. I think you have to figure it out. I’m not that one is like, I know that’s a good use case and we want to support it. I mean, we kind of already had plans to think about it, but we keep thinking of other stuff is more important and it’s open source.
So a lot of times it’s kind of, Hey, if someone wants to do these things, like come talk to us and like have a chat with me and Andrew and you. The rest of the team and we’ll say, Hey, if we were going to build it, we would do it this way. That’s going to like play the most nice with everything else we do.
And then we can work together. I think we under delivered on how do you know if a feature is popular? I think we just talked about the feature specific feature. We don’t know how to talk about it until people keep you on it or make the smallest weird version of it. Uh, this is good. We didn’t, we do. Yeah, we will do like workarounds and blog posts to work around and there were code work around.
And then if that gets popular, like what people are wanting to do this, they’re going so far as to write code to do it, then we should like help them better. Uh, but basketball, I mean, this doesn’t have to be a long discussion either. Um, that quote that I heard and I, I forget the source, I looked it up and this is like a quote as old as time, but the concept is biased toward.
And I think we’ve been doing a lot of thinking in the business and like, should we be doing this? Or like that, what’s the process for like running meetings like this? Or like, uh, we have this question of, you know, should we, we talked to him the one episode about free versus paid and we can’t figure out like, what should we actually focus on?
And, um, I think we’ve exhibited this before and we’re kind of on the lookout for it. And the people who work with us as a bias for action is that when you’re in this situation, like, are you, like we should step back and talk about this for six. Or is it kind of like, let’s just pick one and see what happens, uh, and continue talking and be ready to, you know, your decision.
Yeah. So, um, it’s a concept that I guess, I don’t know that phrase. I heard that before, but it’s like popped up a couple of, I don’t know if it’s just like, yeah. You know, the, well, you know, the other one is analysis paralysis. You can look at any dataset. Two people could have completely opposite analysis.
We were doing that today earlier. Somebody could look at the performance on Google analytics and, and I could paint it in a really pleasant picture. Someone else could view that data and painted in a negative, uh, picture. So bias toward action says, you know, don’t get into a state of analysis paralysis, you know, Make a decision, try it, make something that’s reversible.
Even the free verse paid. There’s a very short path avoiding any AB testing is just for one week, remove the free level from our checkup, from our pricing page. And then for one week, put it back and get numbers on both. Yeah. And try not to change other things in the process, but otherwise don’t overarch.
Uh, test for it. Yeah. Just take action. I’m ready to do that. 80, 20 principle. There’s so many versions. It’s like 80, 20 principle. There’s you know, um, how quickly, when we’ve worked with new people in our team, could we identify if they present a bias toward action or how do you build that into an interview process or, right.
Yeah. Cause we’re like core values and it’s like, what’s a good question. That would get a bias toward action. Um, I felt like we kind of realized how important a lot of the folks that we hire. And we like to, if whenever possible is have like test projects. And so the test project, you can figure that out.
Um, even like sometimes. We would have these coding problems. I’m free rolling here on us. It’s a good idea. I would go on with developers and it always be like, it’s too much. You can, you can’t get it to it in the half hour, an hour that you’re on the phone. Um, and then I, I didn’t mean for this, but like a lot of times over the weekend, they’d be like, I was still working on that.
And I was like, no, no, no, no. That’s just like a thing. Like I have the answer. We already did it like a. And sometimes this gets like, Hey, that shows like, you know, they have a problem. They have, you know, some other attributes, but is it like a bias towards action or yeah, maybe. Could you simulate that, look out for it in, in the case, when you’re asking them about previous work they did and decisions they made or tell me, oh, you know what?
It was like, let’s make a decision, you got wrong. And then how did you present it? Cause that’s like, what are you scared of? That is, you know, if you can tell, sometimes you do have to slow down, you know? Um, it’s. Matt Mullenweg, uh, you know, kind of leader of WordPress and a bunch of other people have talked about how, like, when you’re making decisions, if it’s easily reversible, like, go ahead, just make one.
You can always switch it as you, you’re always going to learn, you know, always be learning. That’s like another version of this. It’s like, no matter what we’re going to learn. Even if we learn, Hey, we made the wrong decision, but sometimes there’s a decision where like, oh, once we go down this path, it’s really hard to correct this and you have to slow down.
Um, we’ve done in some interviews I’ve conducted, we’ve done like a simulation role-play of how we work on a problem. So we’ve presented a problem, present a few options and the people who say, you know, that seems like the most straightforward group to attack and we could do it this way. Can very quickly get from a high level conversation that they’ve never heard of before never interacted with, to some actions as part of it.
That could be a piece how we analyze it. Okay. Yeah. I think it’s good to be bringing like actual problems decisions. We don’t know the answer to and talk it through with. And then at the end, you know, see if they have a bias towards action. Yeah. So, you know, how would you feel like, are you ready to make a decision or like, what would you do now?
And if they’re kind of like, I would have another meeting then you’re like, maybe not. Um, or if you say now that we’re meeting, you have to pick which one, if they kind of like flake on that, if they feel uncomfortable. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it could be just, you know, They, maybe they can get over that, but it’s just kind of shows that like naturally they don’t have that.
And if that’s an important part of the role they’re having, you know, do you need that? Or if you kind of force it, Hey, if you had to make a decision, which one? And they pick one and you talk through it, like, yeah, that’s cool. All right. Kind of put them on the spot. I like it. I like it. Let’s go hire someone else doing something.
I need to make an action. Now I have a bunch of that I’ve held off on. All right, let’s go do some stuff. Go do some stuff. Bias towards action and get stuff done. Just chip it. Always learning, always be learning. All right. Sorry. Uh, thanks for watching. Let’s say catch up next week.