We Went Viral for the Wrong Reasons

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June 30, 2022

The GoJek team had just redesigned the homepage of their app. A homepage used by 38 million people. Yes, you read that right. 38 million people. And those people weren’t too happy with GoJek.

Cue Rahul Bhatli, Consumer Platform Design Lead at GoJek, brought in to figure out why users were upset with a multi-year app homepage redesign, and to fix it.

10s of experiments with millions of users

Faced with a lot of pressure and frustrated users, Rahul & his team did something interesting. Instead of pulling everything apart and starting from scratch, they looked at the existing app and realized that they had an opportunity.

With millions of users landing on the homepage everyday, they could launch 10s of experiments to figure out where they were getting stuck and what was going wrong. They wanted to diagnose the root problem before going after a solution.

And so the journey began. The team started moving components around, changing the placement of search, reordering menu options, and measured user behavior including Click Through Rates and navigation journeys.

But even after changing the entire layout of the homepage multiple times, there was no significant change in user behavior or business metrics. Think about that for a second—you move menu options from the top to the bottom of the page, change CTA placements and priorities—and nothing changes with user behavior.

This was an indicator that something more fundamental was awry. The team needed to look at the app from a first principles point of view. And when you start rebuilding from scratch, the first thing you need is an architecture plan.

What should GoJek look like?

Now that he knew where to focus his attention, Rahul needed to find a solution.

He gathered the best visual designers, service designers, architecture experts within GoJek, pulled them from across teams and put them in a room together, with one question: “What should GoJek look like?”

A lot of knowledge already existed within the organization—they knew the jobs to be done for their users, they had analytics data on behavior and user journeys. The team tore through the data together, trying to create a vision of what GoJek could and should do for its users.

They put together new models of navigation across the app, organizing and reorganizing each of GoJek’s 10s of services, mapping them against actual user behavior until they found a structure that worked not just for user navigation, but also to communicate the essence of the brand they were building.

What have we assumed and not tested?

But ideation is nothing without user feedback. The team had put together an all-new architecture and navigation system for the GoJek homepage based on historical data and hypotheses, but they needed to put it to the test with real users.

They put together a Tree Test to see if their hypothesized navigation system made sense to users. As expected, new learnings emerged when the design was put to the test—users needed more cues based on their existing mental models to discover the journeys and actions they were looking for.

Or as Rahul puts it, “We needed to spend less time making things we want them to do, and spend more time making things they want to do.”

2X User Activation Rates—but redesigning is never done!

The team kept iterating on designs based on the tree test results, refining & testing as they went.

And the results were amazing. First time user activation—the percentage of first time users who started using a GoJek service—more than doubled!

But even today, the iterations continue. Rahul believes that a (re)design is never done—the team keeps iterating on different parts of the app, experimenting, researching, and designing a better experience for their users.

TLDR: What You Can Learn from Rahul

  1. If you have a live app & you don’t know why it isn’t performing—don’t be afraid to experiment. Real user data can provide incredible insights before you redesign.
  2. Don’t assume, test. You never know what you’re imposing on users that they don’t understand or accept. Test your designs and assumptions with your audience before going live.
  3. (Re)designing is never done! Keep iterating, experimenting, and researching for the best results. Don't expect to get it perfect in the first try.

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