Early user feedback

When you launch the first version of your product it’s likely to have serious flaws. If you want to discover what these flaws are you’ve got to figure out (a) what your users use your software for and (b) what changes you need to make to make them happier.

This sounds trivial, but it’s not. Especially when you’re busy building you can easily forget to pause and think in this critical phase and shred your chances for future product/market fit in the process.

First, you want to know what your users are trying to accomplish. This tells you if your users are who you anticipated using your software. If you have the -right- kind of users you want to figure out if your product website is targeted at them, and if your marketing efforts are successful at reaching them.

What do I mean by “right users”? Well, very early adopters tend to be different from the users you’ll get down the road. Early adopters are more technical, care more about power-user features, are less inclined to pay for software, and more likely to give extensive feedback. This initial set of early adopters is really valuable because they are so willing to help. But in most cases your core customer base will be different and also have different priorities. This mismatch is dangerous. Early adopters can lead you astray.

It’s not just early adopters that are unrepresentative. Any users that use your product in ways you hadn’t anticipated are dangerous to listen to. It’s too easy to get persuaded your app needs to grow towards a very specific niche, when really, by doing so you alienate 90% of your real user base. Always listen carefully to all feedback, but if the feedback comes from the wrong type of user it’s best to stay the course. If you really need to make a big change in direction your users will continue to remind you, so no need to do anything rash.

The world is a big place. If your first 100 users are lukewarm about your app it could mean that your app stinks. But maybe your app is just confusing to use for the first time. Or maybe your website gives the wrong impression. Lack of enthusiasm is not a great sign, but neither does it mean you have to pivot or redesign or start over. Minor tweaks will do. Look for a new set of users from a different pool, and see if you get a better reception.

Remember that users who give feedback unprompted are outliers. You’ve got to reach out to the quiet users, too! Track, in the most primitive way, whether users are active. If you have users who use your app every day for a month that’s a very clear sign you’re on to something. Email them, and ask them what the #1 feature is they’d like to see. It’s so easy to do, and you might discover that this quiet set of users are your core market and deserving of your full attention.

Solicit feedback in the app itself. Add a feedback button. Maybe add a poll so users can vote on something. Lower the barrier to give feedback — any feedback — as much as you can. This way you’ll get feedback from a wider group of users. And be really responsive and thoughtful in your emails to users. Most people expect poor customer support, so they won’t go out of their way to write down what they think. If you get the chance to surprise people with good customer support they become way more likely to suggest improvements to your product.

However, be weary of people who email you pages of ideas but who haven’t really tried your software yet. It’s a lot of fun to talk to people and to get excited about the different directions your product could go in. But it’s also a distraction if this conversation is with people who haven’t really explored your product. When people have a pressing need they really try to use a product to see if it solves their problem. They’re willing to put up with flaws and shortcomings in your product as long as you get the vital stuff right. And if they haven’t tried your product that tells you something. Which user sends the feedback is as much of a signal as the content of the feedback.

As for the features/changes you want to make, we’ve written about that before. In short: make the first impression really good and nail down the core user experience. Many good features you won’t have time to build for another year or two and that’s normal.

Trust signals

When comparing products or services, one important factor in choosing which solution to go for is trust. We know we are looking for certain trust signals before buying services as consumers ourselves, so we need to make sure that as makers we address those same questions and concerns too!

This is especially true for the kind of product we’re building. It’s not hard to come up with concerns potential customers might have. With any SaaS product you want to know it will remain online, your data is secure, people care about your privacy, and so on. Especially when trying out a new product from a new startup, you want to make sure it sticks around.

The “close tab” button is your biggest enemy, and just the tiniest concern you don’t address can cause people to not even give it a try. As I wrote before, people are going to look for answers to these concerns anyway. So you can either address them yourself, or people will leave your site, look for answers on sites you don’t control (and maybe come back, who knows). You might think people will take the effort to email you if they need an answer, but it’s much easier to “close tab” and look for something else.

Luckily, addressing most of these signals really don’t cost a lot of time:

About page

This seems too obvious to even list here, but just really, just mention something about you or your team somewhere. When launching your MVP, you really don’t need to publish a complete biography. Even something like a link to your Twitter profile will be enough. Software is so anonymous, and is literally written by folks on laptops on different sides of the planet these days. People like to not just buy something, but from someone (especially for B2B, buying something when it says just [email protected] in the footer is going to be a harder sale).

Social media/online presence

This is actually a mistake we’ve made for our first product. We noticed that when we didn’t have an easy way for people to find recent activity about us online, they seemed worried about the product being abandoned. I don’t have sufficient data for this to claim any statistical significance, but whenever we didn’t tweet for a while on our company twitter (which we link to in the footer of the product’s website), it seemed like we somehow converted less people.

We even had people contact us asking if the product was abandoned, because they couldn’t find updates (on our Twitter or other social media, probably). And this was just after we had completely redesigned the product a few months before and we were very happy with how polished the product was now. Ouch. But it makes sense in a way, people have probably been burned before by some startup with poor support, so it’s just another trust signal.

Fast support

We always aim to answer any support emails really quickly. This is related to software being very anonymous, and it just shows there are actual humans involved and that we really care (and good support is a USP too!)

Security/privacy policy & GDPR

Especially with SaaS products, you want to make sure customers can see you care about their data. More than anything, these just show you’ve put thought in it at all. And next to it being the right thing to do, some things are simply required, for example GDPR compliance.

This is probably a topic for another post, but especially when launching your very first version to validate an idea, it doesn’t need to be anything super complicated. It already helps a lot to have a nice FAQ-style page to address the biggest concerns. How will you handle cancelations, data erasure, data export, how do you store your data and so on.

Better than trust

Speaking of security, ideally you wouldn’t need to trust a company much at all. In the case of Thymer for example, we would really like to look into end-to-end encryption (E2EE) at some point. We will launch with encryption in transit and encryption at rest from the start, but I don’t think we’ll have time for E2EE in our very first version. We can’t build everything at once, but it’s good to think about which features can address the largest concerns for not signing up first.


This isn’t possible on day 0 with zero users, but as soon as you have some users, ask them how they like the product and whether you can add their reply to your website. Related to this, one of the things people will usually look for is reviews for your product. Make sure you reply in those places when people have questions. You can even create your own “X reviews” page and rank for that, so you can guide people to different reviews and include your own support structures when they have questions.


Every product is going to have some bugs and glitches, that’s hard to avoid. Some bugs are so embarrassing however, it just signals you don’t care at all. Of course you won’t have infinite resources to make everything perfect, but prioritize fixing critical flaws. Some bugs there’s just no coming back from. Fix it or people will stop trusting your product.