How to Take Your App to the Next Level
Releasing a cross-platform update is probably the best way for us to start the year. However, I can’t talk about any new awesome feature that we added because there really isn’t one. This time, we focused on something else, and we could not be happier with the result. Of course, one way to improve your app is to create new innovative features. We did a lot of that in 2014 and in the beginning of 2015 — we released Dashlane for Teams with a Sharing Center and password sharing capabilities; we built our Emergency feature, so close ones can access your data in case anything bad happened to you; and we created Password Changer, allowing you to update your passwords in one click. These were great releases that caught the attention of major press outlets and differentiated us from the competition. But as our user base grew, we decided to step back and start a deep dive in the way our app is used. We wanted to see where there is room for improvement in our core product, rather than adding something new. And we learned… a lot. Here some product principles that we learned during that journey.
Identify pain points for your users
The first version of Dashlane was publicly released in 2012. Since then, we’ve had years to identify and fix all the quick wins and obvious broken experiences. Therefore, finding what we can do to make the product better in its daily usage is now pretty hard. Don’t get me wrong, we know our product is not perfect, and we have a lot of requests from our users. But as every startup knows, we can only do a limited number of improvements, and finding the next right move is still hard. You have to read every sign and choose what is the most important. So, we took all the sources of information and tried to read between lines.
What did we find? As stupid as it may seem, we found that people wanted the app to do a better job at managing passwords. Yeah, I know… It sounds a bit obvious since we are a password manager, right? Well, no, because Dashlane was already super good at managing passwords, or at least, it was super good in most cases. But when you rely on a service to manage all your identity, it should never fail you. So, we worked a lot on identifying every little hole that we had in the app, so we could fix it.
Keep it simple
When adding new features, you inherently make your app more complex, which can be a real deal breaker for users who don’t find what they came for and feel overwhelmed and discouraged by features. We worked on identifying what was too complicated for our users and made it simpler. For instance, having to open the account details to copy the password is painful on a daily basis. We added quick actions directly in the search and on the menu to make this a lot easier.
For those who still want to open the details, we made the actions very easy to see. Before, there were too many unclear icons misleading users about what they could do with the app.
We also simplified the language, so users are not confused by technical terms that they don’t care about. A lot of people don’t know what an extension is, but telling them that they need to add Dashlane to their browser makes a lot more sense. We improved our onboarding to make it more organized and focused on what matters to our users, meaning organizing their passwords and having them on their device rather than overwhelming them with everything the app can do.
Fix the right things, and fix them right
Our product is pretty complex when it comes to the backend. It mixes desktop and mobile apps, browser extensions, and does real-time semantic analysis on every webpage — all while working with encrypted, sensitive data. Let’s face it. There are some parts that could be more robust, so we dedicated time to improve them. We finally fixed our search algorithm, and now searching elements in the app is easier than ever. Everything is well organized. We also worked a lot on the stability of our extensions to limit issues when browsers get updated. One thing that was broken was the way we handled HiDPI on Windows. Many new computers/tablets have HiDPI today, and we could not continue having our app be super small on these devices. So, our app is now compatible with high resolution screens.
Fail gracefully when you can’t control things
Depending on the complexity of your app, there are things you know you can’t fix because it is not all in your control or because users never do what you would like them to. What happens if a user replaces a password he shouldn’t have? What if a user generates a strong password but does not save it?
We have added a fully-functional Password History that handles all these cases, and we smartly suggest to users to access it when we detect that there might be an issue.
Fill the small holes in your product
As I said, taking into account feedback from our users is really important for us, and there are a few small things people have wanted for a long time that we just could not let move down prioritization anymore. The best example is adding notes for payment cards.
Always keep on making your app more beautiful
When you are passionate about UI, working on a new version is THE moment where you know you can legitimately spend time on improving the way your app looks. We refreshed both our Mac and Windows apps to make them lighter, cleaner and consistent with all the improvements we had done on other platforms.
We also added some cool animations to contextually explain how to use features.
We also took advantage of the new Apple feature and implemented Force Touch on Mac. It might not be a game changer, but hey, sometimes you need to do something just because you like it.
Prepare to scale
Dashlane is used in more than 50 countries, and until now, only spoke English and French. While we were reshaping our app, we integrated with a bunch of tools to not only translate our apps but to localize them for any new country. Not only does Dashlane now speak German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese, but we added country-specific support for local banks with dedicated logos and everything. And we did not stop there. Most of our user’s interactions with Dashlane do not happen in the app, but on the web. So, we internationalized our semantic engine. Now, you have the same level of quality in terms of autofill and auto-login no matter if you are on a Mexican, American or Japanese website. This is why we can now proudly say that we are ready for scaling internationally.
Think about the next big thing
What is great about a pause in implementing new features is that you can take a step back and see what the next move should be. And, oh boy, do we have great ideas! We have actually already started to work on a couple of surprises that we are sure you will love. 2016 just started, and I have a whole year fully packed with an exciting roadmap. Of course, new opportunities always appear and priorities shift. But you should see the great bunch of new things coming in the next few weeks and months!.
If you want to have a look at our launch video, here it is
And feel free to check this version for yourself there: https://www.dashlane.com