Troy Crosby, Author at The Contactually Blog | For Relationship-Based Businesses

5 Aspects of Rapid Feature Validation & Iteration

When Eric Ries published The Lean Startup in 2011, he outlined foundational principles of rapidly testing business hypothesis through product experiments. Startups like Contactually know they should split-test, be data-driven, and “Move fast and break things”, but actually applying these principles is another story. Rapidly validating and iterating on product features requires your team to establish tooling and methodology for doing so, which requires explicit effort and commitment. Contactually product development process has evolved into a fairly effective but simple pattern for running experiments that involves 5 different areas of methodology. These 5 aspects of experiment execution have allowed us to drive powerful business outcomes like improving our onboarding’s user activation rate by 20% Additionally, these 5 areas serve to reasonable balance several types of assessments: Subjective and objective quality of changes Qualitative and quantitative effects of changes Short and long term effects of changes 1. A/B Testing Tools Key to any controlled experiment is tooling that enables you to apply the new functionality to an experimental group of users, while maintaining a control group to compare against. While many A/B testing tools exist for swapping out HTML or front-end components, Contactually wanted the ability to control deeper backend behavior (Ruby on Rails) based on experiment groupings. Things like changing scoring algorithms, triggering alternative background jobs, exposing or not exposing certain ActiveRecord relationships. This led us to write our own Rails service to control A/B experiments. Contactually’s “Feature Flipper” Service Our custom-rolled Feature Flipper service allows us to create and manipulate experiment “Features” via a Rails console, or an internal admin panel for our non-technical employees, and is backed by Redis. Our FeatureFlipper service give us the following...