Lean Startup / Lean UX — Using Fake Doors

Mandy Sidana
May 21, 2016 · 3 min read
Fake Doors in your App/Website can save you a failure

Often during our product development, Project Manager would come up to tech team on Monday Morning and announce that he has had a revelation! He has come up with the killer feature that our app needs to grow numbers and metrics. He claims that this is the feature would make our app a success. The only concern is that it requires a lot of developmental effort. After giving it some thought, the tech team does a feasibility study and says yes. And just like that we commit to a month of development, waiting for the day when we ship this feature.

A month passes, working day and night and the day arrives. The day it ships and goes live, any users hardly notice! We expect users to grow over the next few days but maybe the users don't get it yet. We take more time and add articles about it on our blog and add it to our demo video and yes some users start using it, but it's nowhere close to the effort it took to get those users. Maybe over time it does become a killer feature, maybe not. We couldn't have known earlier, could we? Could we have been smarter?

Yes. Using Design Thinking, we need to validate the feature first. And no that doesnt mean just talking to users about it offline, since that is often unyielding.

Lean UX gives us a magical tool here. Fake Doors. A button essentially, waiting to be clicked on and doing nothing, essentially just measuring intent.

Let me explain with an example. So let's say you run a online store and the feature you are adding is 'Live Video Chat' that allows user to place an order while talking to store manager over video call. For this to happen you must first develop video chat, train store manager to handle queries and Create an admin panel for him to take orders. Before doing all that we need to validate the idea. Create a button. That's all it takes. Make a button saying 'Place order over video call' and if user clicks on it, explain how it works and ask if he wants to confirm. There you have it, real validation from real users. If he says yes, then explain that this feature is under development or is facing issues, we'll mail you one it's fixed. The point is that you have validated customers before you do a month's labor.

You may also use analytics and you go a step ahead to track where are these customers are coming from. You might as well throw in a survey when they click on the fake door. There's so much you can do to understand your customer first. Looking back, we could have saved ourselves so many hours had be done this before. We hope you do.

Please let us know if you had any experiences with fake doors. If as a user, you have found it on any service? Or if you would like to include them in your app or product, we can provide a free consultation.

Written by

Product manager. Building Analytics related technology products. Part time Startup consultant. Blockchain enthusiast.

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