Getting to know you: why we’re talking to our users

We’re finding that there’s a lot to be learned from talking to your users. As we take the final steps towards launching The Events Calendar / Events Calendar PRO 3.0, it’s more important than ever to find out who our users are, why events are important to them and how we could better help them succeed — financially or, if there’s some other metric by which they gauge success, through whatever avenue is important to them.

You’ve probably seen Shane’s blog post from the end of April containing the PollDaddy survey. (If you haven’t replied yet, what better time than now?). But we’ve also got a batch of conversations scheduled next week in place of May’s usability test, which should help paint an even better picture.

Earlier this week I sent an email to three distinct groups of users:

  • The last 100 people to purchase a plugin
  • 100 users whose licenses expired over the past couple months who have not renewed
  • 50 or so users who have bought 4 or more licenses

The goal was simple: we wanted to schedule about a dozen 20-minute sessions throughout the morning of May 17, talking to a cross-section of these three groups to see what we could find out. This wasn’t intended a science experiment or a case study; it’s a casual conversation. But even pitching it as such ¬†— and with the offer of a free license/upgrade to sweeten the deal — we wondered how much response we’d get. Our estimate was maybe 5% but not much higher than that.

Surprisingly, we got one hell of a response. All 12 of the slots were booked within far less than 24 hours, and I’m still four days later turning away people who are replying with interest. Even more surprising, we had just as many expired users reply as we did recent buyers.

We’re excited about what this means for the quality of our conversations next week, and even more excited about where the results of these conversations will take us. We’re going to let the flow naturally but do have a script we’ll stick to if things go off course, which includes questions like:

  • What role does events play in the stuff you’re working on?
  • What do you look at when deciding on a calendar?
  • Do you pick this for your clients? Or do the clients pick it with you?
  • Do you crack the hood? What are your expectations when doing so? How do you use documentation? Did you? What were you expecting to see that you didn’t?
  • How did we make you more profitable? Did we? Is there other stuff we could build that you could sell? Are there features you’d pay extra for?
  • How much do you care about features/aesthetics vs core quality?
  • What frustrates you on a daily basis?¬†Developers, is there anything we could have done to make your job easier?

If you were one of the folks who volunteered your time — even if you were turned away because the slots were booked — we thank you.

Any other companies out there tried these types of sessions? If so, was it worth your while in the long term? This is our first attempt and we’re in many ways making it up as we go along. Would definitely be interested in hearing feedback in the comments from others who’ve done the same.