Mobile Sparks 2017 by Yourstory

Have been a regular reader of Yourstory and a fan of it flagship event TechSparks. This time wanted to witness and learn from mobile entrepreneurs and went in for the MobileSparks, also hosted by Yourstory. The theme of MobileSparks 2017 was “The New Billion”. Over here, I would predominantly be focussing on the session, “Building habit forming products” delivered by Pramod Jajoo, CTO of Big Basket. Here is what he had to say on the 7 principles to follow:

1. Use user-centric design philosophy

  • UCD is a design process that focuses on user needs and requirements
  • Most commonly a four step process
    • Understand the user context
    • Develop user requirements
    • Design/develop
    • Evaluate
  • UCD heavily involves users in all design and evaluation phases
  • Examples of UCD at Big Basket
    • We tend to buy the same product over and over again – smart basket
    • Show available vouchers in the big basket voucher flow
  • Anti example of UCD
    • Online bus site missing the itenary details
    • An ecommerce site showing, you may like similar phones even after purchasing a phone only recently

2. Keep things simple

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” – Albert Einstein

  • WhatsApp signup is a good example
  • Remember, most users do not have an engineering or an MBA degree.
  • Keep user flows simple
    • Remove frictions
    • Contextual actions
    • Consistency in nomenclature
  • Use intuitive iconography and fonts
    • Quote and Forward icons in WhatsApp is quite confusing.

3. Imbibe data orientation

  • Make “data actionable”
    • Measure everything
    • Draw insights from the data
    • Take corrective actions based on what the data tells you
  • Make application smarter with smarter notification, personalisation…etc.
  • Few example of internal analysis
    • Cohort analysis
    • Scores of NPS, CSAT, CES (Customer Effort Score)
  • Experiments
    • For any non trivial changes, experiment and measure.
    • Have a representative sample for different experiments
    • Have a baseline or control group

4.‎ Optimize performance and non-happy flows

  • Performance makes a huge difference in user experience and adoption
    • Google found that and extra .5 seconds in search page generation time dropped traffic by 20%
  • Make user actions responsive and (instant if possible)
    • Take action first and then send to server in async mode
    • Tweak the flow to design for performance
    • Image compression, prefetch, HTTP 2…etc.

5.‎ Go beyond metros and English speaking audience

  • Mobile first (or may even be mobile only)
  • Mobile web is super critical. Progressive Web Apps.
  • Supporting variety of devices.
    • Screen size
    • Spotty networks (Use caching, buffering, compression, prefetch …etc.)
    • Battery load, push notification reliability
    • App size optimization
  • Natural Language Processing and voice would play a huge role
  • Vernacular support

6. Tailor solutions for cost/value conscious users

  • Most Indians are cost/value conscious
    • If you are competing on price, then benchmark prices regularly.
    • You need to win on price perception and not just on price.
    • Communicate on the value proposition
    • Look at “cashbacks” as repeat purchase incentives. But keep it simple.
  • Win the trust
    • Explain value propositions clearly
    • Explain the rationale for fees (and do not make them hidden).
    • Provide value – lower cost should not mean “cheap or shoddy”.

7. Behavioral science and psychology

Lots of techniques for creating an emotional connect, effective storytelling, satisfying an itch and designing habit forming rewards. Understanding this well can have a profound effect on product success. A few techniques,

  • Nudge

Made popular by 2017 Nobel Prize winner for Economics – Richard Thaler

“A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not.”

Example of Nudges at Big Basket:

On the basket page of the first time users without fruits and vegetables in the basket; to nudge the customer to buys F&V, we could say “More than 90% of our customers purchase fruits and vegetables. Great quality. Sourced and packed for freshness.

On the basket page, to nudge the user to qualify for the next offer, “Shop for Rs. 220 more and avail 10% off.”

  • Paradox of choice
    • Abundance of choice paralyses the user.
    • User’s attention is fickle and user’s time is precious.
    • Make smart defaults for the user.
    • Bundle options whenever possible.
    • Limit choices based on personalisation.
    • Smart recommendations. Ex. Facebook’s smart feed.
    • Less is more.
  • Decoy effect (cognitive bias)

One of the many cognitive biases that most humans have. Lets look at an example of decoy effect. Say, we as a seller can afford to give 20% on bulk purchases of a product. Option1; Buy 1 at Rs. 100. Option 2: Buy 5 at Rs. 400(20% off).

Just by adding a decoy choice makes customer choose our option much more. Option1; Buy 1 at Rs. 100. Option 2[Preferred choice]: Buy 5 at Rs. 400(20% off). Option3[Decoy]:  Buy 4 at Rs. 380(5% off)

“The decoy effect (or attraction effect or asymmetric dominance effect) is the phenomenon whereby consumers will tend to have a specific change in preference between two options when also presented with a third option that is asymmetrically dominated.” -Wikipedia

He also advised not to overuse this.

Here are the book recommendations by Pramod:

  1. Design of everyday things by Don Norman
  2. Predictably irrational by Dan Ariely
  3. Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
  4. Hooked by Nir Eyal
  5. Paradox of choice by Barry Schwartz

Sanket Atal, Group Vice President, Oracle while talking on rethinking mobile paradigms said the three fundamental things necessary for startups to thrive are an addressable market, talent and technology.

Jason Wang of SHAREit India while talking on the journey of scaling to 300 million users said,

  • Understand what is the opportunity, what are the users pain points.
  • Share it was designed for areas with poor connection but people looking for entertainment.
  • The app should be super simple and super friendly.
  • Have people to answer questions 24/7.
  • Execution matters.
  • Focus organic growth and word of mouth.

Amit Somani, Managing Partner, Prime Venture Partners, while talking on How data can be used to understand the new billion users, and ways for startups to spot the multiple opportunities in India, quoted the below slide:


Special mentions to Arun Babu ASP from Uber India, for making his talk more lively.


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