This week we did our first ever usability test. I’d always known that we should be testing, but deadlines have always come so fast that it never happened. Plus we’re a startup, so it’s easy to say we’ll just figure it out and correct as we go. But man were we wrong.
It’s no secret that successful startups talk to their users frequently, yet somehow many of us never get around to it. It’s not like we don’t want to, we just put it off. Yet the benefits you get are completely disproportionate to the time you put in. In less than an hour, we found 3 major usability issues and quite a few minor ones. And that was with a design that I considered to be a major improvement from an old one.
So if any other startups are procrastinating usability testing, please, please give it a try. We only tested 3 people and received a ton of actionable insights. Steve Krug’s “Rocket Surgery Made Easy" is an incredible resource if you want help structuring your tests. I followed his examples and found it very useful. But anyone can really do it. All you do is pick a few key tasks you want your users to do, set a scenario and watch how they go about it. It’s incredibly simple, yet so useful.
Since we’re going to be running more usability tests going forward, we’re looking for volunteers. If you’d like a sneak peek into what we are working on, sign up here!
“GooseChase was an incredible addition to Yelp’s Spring Break in Las Vegas. It got people moving around, talking to each other in ways we couldn’t have even imagined!”
Yelp’s Las Vegas Spring Break
Every month, as a way of bringing their Elite Squad together, Yelp organizes special events for the Yelpers to mingle and meet each other offline. These events are typically hosted in their individual cities, but for the first ever Yelp “Spring Break”, over 500 Elites from 14 markets came to Vegas to celebrate. To get everyone moving around and mingling, Yelp & GooseChase partnered for a crazy city-vs-city scavenger hunt.
Breaking the Ice
With any event that brings people together, it’s key to break the ice as quickly as possible. For Yelp in particular, it was important to build camaraderie between Elites from the same markets and other markets. To accomplish this inter and intra-city mingling, all Spring Breakers represented their city while competing in a GooseChase. Just as Yelp hoped, the friendly competition led to strong inter and intra-city friendships in a very short amount of time.
Increased Brand Awareness
Spring Break was about strengthening the Yelp Elite community offline, but one pleasant bonus was the strong brand marketing they received throughout the weekend. Up and down The Strip, swagged-out Yelpers completed GooseChase challenges while promoting the Yelp brand. Whether it was swag giveaways or reviewing local businesses, Yelp received great brand exposure throughout Vegas over the course of the weekend.
Long Term Plans
When asked about including GooseChase in future Spring Breaks, it was a definite yes. Even the participants made their voice heard on the Yelp forums afterwards.
“We really want to include GooseChase again next year – it accomplished everything we wanted and more”. –Misti Yang, Yelp Community Manager – Las Vegas
“The true adventures happened as people did the GooseChase Spring Break Showdown” – Kevin P.
"The GooseChase was awesome. We wanna do another one!” – April D.
When we first started working on GooseChase, we weren’t quite sure how people would use it. We knew that it would work well with the traditional 2-3 hour, “all-in” scavenger hunt, but we were really curious to see if people would use it for a passive game like Foursquare. It’s still early, but with our v2.0 product being live for a couple months now, it’s worth a look at our usage to see how our expectations held up.
Looking at the data, the first thing we noticed was how “all-in” scavenger hunts, like your standard 2 hour blitz, dominate. The vast majority of GooseChases last less than 3 hours. At first this was a little bit of a let-down for us as we were hoping to see some creative “non-standard” use, but it does makes sense. When a platform is very new, people start with the obvious ways. Only after they use it for a while do they figure out how they can tweak it for other uses too. We were expecting alternative usages to be found right away, which wasn’t realistic. They’ll come, but not this early.
The second is the breakdown of simple vs. intense tasks and how often they get completed. While it’s obvious that simple tasks would get completed more frequently than intense ones, we didn’t expect the disparity to be as high as it is. With the public “GooseChase Super-Hunt” we’ve been running for the last week or so, approximately 50% of the completed missions were “easy” and the other half were more “intense” missions. This may sound like an equal split, except that there were only 2-3 “easy” missions vs. ~20 “intense” missions, so completion was actually heavily weighted towards easy. We knew it would be like that, but we didn’t know it would be by so much.
Finally, the third insight is that there are really only two types of successful games - those that are incredibly passive and those that are very active & intense. Since most of our success so far has come from active games (e.g. a 2 hour blitz), we’d tried to convert the public games to a more passive style of play, but you can’t just “passivize” an active game and expect it to work. You either need to make it lightweight and easy to play from the ground up, like Foursquare or Words with Friends, or as intense and full of adrenaline as possible, like a 2 hour scavenger hunt.
It’s insights like these that enable us to continue improving our product. We can have all the ideas in the world, but until we test them, we never know for sure.
And since we’re always looking to improve GooseChase, we’d love to hear any suggestions you have about how we can improve the product!
I’ve caved. After being harassed about Pinterest by just about everyone I know, it’s time for GooseChase to get in on the action. Since our scavenger hunts produce some of the most entertaining pictures around, it’s a perfect fit. But I’ve got a secret. I don’t really understand it yet. I get the premise and all that, but the part where I’m supposed to get hooked, I’m not there.
All you Pinteresting (sorry) folks out there, if you have some great scavenger hunt pictures, let me know! I want to post them on the GooseChase board and give you credit. We’ll be keeping it mostly PG-13, but other than that, anything goes.
Talk to any scavenger hunt organizer and they’ll tell you that the worst part, by far, is evaluating and scoring the photos at the end. Technology has helped a lot, but the photo review process is still very tedious.
When we ran through our platform a few months ago to figure out what was working and what wasn’t, we knew we could make this process a lot better. After testing out a few different ideas, we realized that peer photo review was the perfect solution.
At its core, since photos are already being reviewed on the photo feed throughout the game, why should the organizer have to review them all again at the end? Why not harness the peer review that’s already happening and use it to highlight the pics that might not be good enough?
With GooseChase 2.0, each photo now has an up and down arrow next to it on the photo feed. If there’s a great picture, participants can give it a congratulatory upvote. But if a photo clearly doesn’t cut it, participants can give it a downvote and flag it for review. Not only does it make the game more interactive for the participants, but the tedious photo review work is substantially reduced!
As an administrator, you’ll still need to make sure that the photos flagged are actually weak (there’s an area in our web interface that shows flagged photos), but instead of having to go through hundreds of photos, now you’ll only have to go through a handful. That’s a huge time-saver for you and is one of the features I’m most excited about in GooseChase 2.0.
We are still tweaking the algorithms on upvotes/downvotes to get it just right, but it’s there for you to play around with. We think that this is a big step forward on our path of making scavenger hunts easier to run and hope you like it!
If you have any feedback on the peer-review system, we’d love to hear it! Just drop us a line at email@example.com.
As many of you know, GooseChase has had the amazing opportunity of participating in Start-Up Chile for the past few months. It’s been quite the experience and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Our productivity has also been through the roof so it’s hard to complain. But like all good things, it must come to an end, and our time is almost up here.
When planning where to go after this, we struggled between moving to the Bay Area and going back to Waterloo. Both have pros and cons, but in the end we decided to head back to Waterloo. There’s something really exciting happening in Waterloo, especially with VeloCity growing the way it is. I’m confident there’s going to be a couple very large companies come out of the area in the next 10 years and I want to be a part of it.
So starting in mid-May, we’ll be back in Waterloo working out of the VeloCity Garage at the Tannery. If you’re in the area, give us a shout!
A few days ago a couple friends from Canada arrived in Chile. To show them Santiago, I’ve been acting as a tour guide, albeit a very unknowledgable one. And while showing off the sights, we started to notice a few trends that happen quite frequently. In Chile in particular, public displays of affection and almost car accidents seem to happen all the time.
To make a game out of it, we started making guesses on how many of X we would see before we got to Y. Turns out, that’s a really fun game. After thinking about it later, it’s essentially a mini-scavenger hunt. Other than the fact that I clearly have a style of game that I like, I realized it can be played in other situations as well (e.g. commuting to work, walking to the store, etc). Sure it’s a little childish, but it adds a little excitement to your life - and who doesn’t like that?
So if you are feeling bored tomorrow on your way into work, try predicting how many people will get off at the next stop or how many people will cough before your connection. Maybe loop in someone else on the game and compete head to head. Either way, it spices up your life in a fun way and helps you be more aware of your surroundings. In my book, those are two pretty awesome improvements.
"Each Monday we would come up with a hypothesis to test, code like crazy throughout the week and test over the weekend." - Mike Krieger, Co-founder of Instagram (paraphrased)
Like many startups out there, I’m a big fan of the lean startup. Despite the fact that it’s become a bit of a buzzword, there’s a lot of value in it, especially for first time entrepreneurs. But I’ve always found that there’s a complete lack of actionable guidance on how to apply it to mobile. With Apple’s review process taking 1-2 weeks at a time with the possibility of rejection, you can’t rely on live apps to test your MVP. You can distribute ad hoc, but that’s a very time consuming process and you can only have 100 devices associated with an account. To get around it, I’ll often hand my phone to friends and family to see how they use it, but again, that’s not ideal. Pretty much all options out there suck. In an effort to figure it out, I attended a “Design and the Mobile Startup" panel at SXSW last week. Seeing as the key speakers were the Alex Rainert, head of product for Foursquare, Alexa Andrzejewski, CEO of Foodspotting, and Mike Krieger, Co-founder of Instagram, I was hoping to glean some knowledge from those that have figured it out. The talk started off with basic stuff like intros, product vision, scaling up, etc., but the real gold came when they started discussing how the apps evolved from their earliest forms. As Ron Goldin, the founder & creative director of AKKO and the moderator of the panel, brought up screenshots of each of the three apps throughout their life, an interesting discussion started about the early iterations and how they tested. I didn’t fully grasp it at the time, but this was essentially the lean startup being applied to mobile before lean was a buzzword. Each panelist had a very similar approach, but Mike said it best (paraphrasing):
"Each Monday we would come up with a hypothesis to test, code like crazy throughout the week and test over the weekend."
When Apple’s review process came up, it was revealed that both Foursquare & Instagram (and maybe Foodspotting?) used html apps to test their designs & features. Once they verified the design on the html version, they would build native apps when they were ready to go live. Admittedly, it’s not a perfect solution since you have to go build the native apps at the end of it, but it solves all the distribution and rapid iteration problems associated with mobile. Something doesn’t work? Push out a new version mid-week. Want to split test a feature? Go right ahead. It’s so obvious that I felt a little stupid when I heard it, but I’d never read/thought about it before so odds are others probably haven’t as well. With “mobile or web first” being a hot debate right now, it’s time mobile gets a bit more attention in the lean startup as well. Distilled down to the most lightweight form, here’s a few tips for applying lean startup to mobile as per Instagram, Foursquare and Foodspotting:
Hypothesize on Monday, build all week and test on the weekend. Consumers use apps most heavily on the weekend, so it’s a perfect time to run a few experiments.
Use html apps to test your hypotheses and switch to native at the end. Quicker iteration, split testing and changing on the fly all make it a no brainer.
Pay attention to what features your users use and how/when. Foodspotting noticed a huge split between users who are a) out and about looking for a tasty dish now and b) planning their meals ahead of time and want to find the perfect place to eat. As a result, they essentially split their app into two “modes” to improve the UX for each.
GooseChase iPhone app can be downloaded from here & Android from here.
Hooray! It’s March! And with March comes the wildest conference out there, South by Southwest (SXSW). As we mentioned a month ago, GooseChase is going to be competing in the SXSW Accelerator competition, but our involvement doesn’t just stop there.
In order to celebrate the unveiling of our brand new, version 2.0 platform, we’re running a massive GooseChase to highlight all the hottest startups at SXSW. What’s so special about that? Well picture all the things you know and love about GooseChase: the intense competition, the incredible pics and the crazy challenges, and now add in the next wave of awesome tech from all over the world. Yup, sounds pretty awesome right?
Anyone who’s participated in a GooseChase knows that this isn’t your ordinary scavenger hunt. Sure you submit photos to complete missions and receive points, but when you see all the photos coming into the feed and you’re climbing the leaderboard, it’s really easy to get hooked. Like really, really easy. So with each mission highlighting a startup and their product with an entertaining challenge, it gives you an incredible way to meet the hottest startups before they explode.
Wouldn’t it have been cool to get to know Foursquare or Twitter before everyone else knew about them? I think so. And that’s where the SXSW GooseChase comes in. You’ll be up close and personal, getting to know these startups the way they really are. Uncensored and without PR polish, just raw, awesome startupness.
There’s already a ton of awesome startups in on it and their missions are nothing short of incredible. I’m always amazed by the creativity of others, and this has been no different. Whether it’s challenging others to a coaster throwing competition or having a pitch-off for make believe products, each startup has managed to convert their essence into a crazy fun task for you to do.
And you know what the coolest part is? All the startups that are trying to market themselves actually want to play too. You know something’s pretty awesome when everyone’s as excited as we are.
"Just checked out GooseChase & could not be more excited for their SXSW GooseChase!" -BringShare
"Amazing! Super excited to be involved.” - Stealth Startup
"I am going to have to download the app, I want to do the scavenger hunt myself!" -Wisdio
The good news is with SXSW starting in just over a week, we don’t have to wait too long to get this show on the road. If you are going to be in Austin, I highly encourage you to check out the SXSW GooseChase by downloading the new GooseChase iPhone or Android apps! It’s going to be an incredible ride and I feel pretty confident you won’t regret it :)
Are you a startup that wants to be featured in the SXSW GooseChase? Head to www.goosechase.com/sxsw and submit a mission for free!
When I give someone the elevator pitch for GooseChase, I always make sure to weave in a couple of my favourite missions as examples. Not only does it get the point across, but this is usually the moment when they get what we are trying to do. Just like you put a face to a name, this puts an experience to the technology.
Since fun missions are the key to a great scavenger hunt, and we’ve got countless awesome scavenger hunt missions, I thought it would be fun to highlight my top 20. Feel free to use them for your own scavenger hunts or modify them as you please. If you want to see more, the full list is available in our game creation interface!
Rickroll in Real Life: Knock on someones door and sing never gonna give you up caroling style.
Hardcore Parkour: Show off your newfangled parkour skills by jumping over an object in style.
Piggy Back Please?: Have a stranger give a teammate a piggy back ride. Hang on!
Please Mom?: Take a turn on a coin operated children’s ride and get a little too excited about how much fun it is.
Ribbit: Recruit a few strangers to play a leisurely game of leapfrog in the park with you.
Safety First: Snap a picture of a team member wearing at least 3 items of personal protective equipment. Must be worn for the next mission as well.
Wheel Barrow: Find a real wheel barrow and give a teammate a lift. Act nonchalant.
Need for Speed: Engage in a footrace with a stranger for at least 100m (110y). Photo mid-race.
Comfy?: Photo all team members less one sleeping on a department store mattress. Get cozy.
Oxymoron: Balance is key for a healthy lifestyle. Go do yoga in a fast food joint with a stranger.
Energy Boost: Photo all team members simultaneously chugging an energy drink of any type.
Jugglin’: Find a stranger who can juggle 3+ objects. Snap them in action and give it a go yourself.
Murder Mystery: Create a human chalk outline on the sidewalk of a public place with someone lying in it.
Slam Dunk: You’re an NBA superstar. Throw down a thunderous slam dunk on something other than a basketball net.
Stowaway: Airfare is expensive these days. Save a bit of money and hide in a suitcase.
Breakdance Masta’: Teach a stranger how to do a breakdance move that you just invented.
Employed?: Photo a team member working at a service job they’re not actually employed at.
Fountain Fishing: Take a picture of a teammate fishing in a public fountain. Get creative.
Mista’ Twista’: Engage in a spontaneous game of Twister in an elevator. Preferably with strangers in the elevator with you.
Here for the Show: Photo your team eating popcorn and enjoying a movie at a local electronics store.
BONUS! Quick Trim: Get a teammate to undergo a body hair waxing session.
Yup. Some are a little crazy, but you’d be amazed at how often they actually get done. When the game is on the line, even Quick Trim doesn’t look that bad. Afterwards, not so much, but that’s all part of the fun of scavenger hunts. Letting loose and going for the win!
If you have any great scavenger hunt missions you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them! Just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We might even post the best ones to our blog, so fire away.