Last weekend we launched a completely redesigned vogogo.com based on customer feedback and usage metrics collected over the last year. The new system is significantly simplified over it’s predecessor, written in a technology stack that speeds development time and will allow us to introduce new features with greater speed and confidence.
Outwardly it allowed us to accomplish three major goals:
Show, not Tell
The old vogogo.com tried to explain with long blocks of text and images what Vogogo did. Most of that text originated from what we thought people needed to know about our service with a tiny, but growing, portion coming from customer feedback. The content became problematic to maintain over time and it was unclear of the value it provided. Were people reading these pages and signing up? Were people reading it and not signing up even though the system could have solved their problem? Why are people signing up to pay their phone bill?
Overtime it became apparent we were asking the wrong questions and the solution became clear. Why are we telling them anything? Why don’t we just show them and let them figure it out. Imagine if online stores wanted you to signup for an account before letting you see their products? That is what we were effectively doing and I would argue most software as a service available today does the same thing. We decided to remove as many barriers as we can to allow the majority of our customers what they want by default. After all it is not like what Vogogo does is terribly complicated; request money from somebody and send it to my bank account. You want to do something else? Great! It just isn’t on the default page flow. To quote our talented user experience/interaction developer Cam Loken, ‘one path in, one path out’.
Vogogo makes money by charging by transaction, but what if you don’t want to collect payment through us? That’s fine, there are a lot of countries that we will never offer service in. The old mindset was to display a “let us know you are interested form” which we would take the results and see what region we will enter next. Some people filled it out, most didn’t. Why would you? You can’t see how the system works. Why not let everybody use Vogogo for free if you decided not to collect payment through Vogogo or there are no payment options available in your country. Admittedly, at this time, the only service we offer that isn’t 100% tied to payment processing is invoicing, but over time that will change.
We had an API on the old system but decided against launching it. The problem wasn’t the API but the complexity in the rest of the system. Simple things became difficult and would have tied us to supporting the behaviour of the API with the new system as customers integrated it. The API is undergoing final testing and should be live shortly.
A minor goal we accomplished was the moving from Grails to Django for Vogogo.com. Most of my original assumptions are still correct and I will give more details on comparing the two frameworks soon.