The Behavioural Roadmap for Startups

This article is written by Taylor Wescoatt, Expert in Residence at Seedcamp. Taylor’s background spans 20 years of Product and UX having held key positions at successful startups like Seatwave and CitySearch, and larger brands like eBay and Time Out. This is the second of two articles on Roadmaps for Startups – the first of which can be read here.

The Challenge

Now that you’re clear on your Vision Roadmap, the next step is to figure out what to actually build. A roadmap’s job is to tell you where you’re going, and how to get there. With the Vision Roadmap we have a clearer idea of where we’re going, but that’s too high-level to let us know what to work on tomorrow.

Normally roadmaps look something like the below, that is, a bunch of features listed down the left, with delivery timelines Gantt-charted out.These types of Roadmaps say what a company is doing, and what a user is getting, but thats where the problems begin;

  • Its out of date as soon as you build it
  • It frustrates Engineering (and others) as too rigid
  • It doesn’t focus on what the Customer wants (which is what matters)

I believe a roadmap can be built around what the Customer wants and needs. Lets go back to our example of Hogwash which started in the Vision Roadmap piece. One of the initial Propositions we planned to achieve was as follows;

 “Hogwash is a convenient way to get the occasional last-minute sparkle on my car” Launch Proposition for the Busy Professional

funnel.imageNow our Product Funnel for a typical ecommerce solution (like Hogwash)  might look something like this. These are all key steps we observer on-site, can measure, and reflect our KPIs directly.

Unfortunately this misses out on a lot of things that the Customer is going through, many of which you can use.

cust.journeyHere’s an example of a full Customer Journey for the same situation. Each step is a “Behaviour” that the customer undertakes in their journey. It starts well before they come to the site, and it ends only after they have demonstrated the behaviour that fulfills the company’s goals. In this case, repeat-purchase.

You’ll see that all the key Funnel steps are in there, but there are also steps in there before, after, and between them. The better insight you have into your customer journey, the quicker you can make key decisions like product changes or pivots, and the more advantage you have over your competitors.

Have a look at the step between ‘schedule appointment’ and ‘pay’, a place where there’s a particularly steep funnel drop. The step ‘talk to partner’ is just as important, if not moreso, to the Customer, and introduces an additional persona into the equation. Understanding this creates new opportunities in Product. You might address it directly, “Enter your partner’s email here and we’ll send them a summary”, to which you could solicit the partner’s feedback (eg scale of 1-10). Great new data and insight opportunity from simply recognising that this step exists! (Hogwash isn’t real, of course, but the example is real, from another startup)

Behaviours are “Actions” performed for “Reasons” with expected “Rewards”. I won’t go deeper on these in this post, but the more clearly you identify and validate these with your customers, the greater opportunity you have to compare, influence, and supplant them with the behaviours you want. The work of Nir Eyal, Nathalie Nahai, and Dan Ariely might be really helpful to look at.

90-day-roadmapNow that you’ve got your Customer Behaviours understood, pick the two you want to focus on for the next 90 days. This is your Behavioural Roadmap. Short, sweet, and customer-focused. All those other ideas can be saved for posterity in The Opportunity Cloud, you may get around to them later. Simple, right? I know its not pretty like the ones at the top, but hopefully you’ll find its a lot more relevant. Features don’t drive KPIs, Behaviours do.

Now comes the hardest part… coming up with great ideas! There’s no science to creating delight, but make sure you have your best people in the room. By focusing on Behaviours (action + motivation + reward), you have a better chance of coming up with a great idea than if you’re just focusing on features. IDEO’s work in the “How might we…” practice is worth looking at. The following three-step process (great article about Pandora here) takes you from which Behaviour you want to what Minimum Viable Product tests you want to undertake.

By focusing in on the entire Customer Journey, and understanding the underlying motivations and rewards for the user, you’ve now developed some serious competitive advantage. Your team is far more empowered to develop great ideas with you, and there is a much stronger sense of purpose and direction to all those late nights you’ll be spending delivering your world-changing idea.

Want to hear about it in Taylor’s own words? Listen to the accompanying podcast!



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