Product complexity comes for us all at some point. Despite our drive to build simple products, complexity inevitably arrives, confusing existing users, but especially new users trying to learn the basic value prop. So, how do you make sure new users can onboard most effectively? Eventbrite Fmr CPO Casey Winters shares insights on ways to fight product complexity and onboard effectively. 

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On the solution to the product lifecycle

“You need to segment your users, and you need to protect new users from existing user needs. The most common way that companies do this is by having a growth team that focuses on the new users, separate from a core product team that is building new advancements for existing users. You want to identify a product complexity strategy that you’re using to manage increasing complexity over time.

“On Pinterest, we had to dig into these different activities to find out which one was the best indicator of the user receiving value. Clicks had clickbait issues where people thought they weren’t getting something valuable when they went to the website. Scrolling indicated the user had a lot of intent, but maybe we weren’t satisfying it that well. Whereas a save indicated we showed you something and you liked it enough that you wanted to get back to it later. So save became the key action we optimized for.”

On getting users to the habit metric

“Over time, you eventually stop losing users out of this cohort of new users. And these users are predictably finding the key action on the designated frequency reforged. We call this getting users to the habit moment, which is when they know they’re going to use this product. The goal is to get the key action, at the designated frequency, when you can reliably predict if they’re doing it this week, or this month, they’re going to keep doing it in the future. This is the activation metric we focused on, which we call the habit metric.

“What you want is to identify how to get people to that key action for the first time. We call that the “aha” metric. It’s the “aha” moment, the first time users are receiving the value of the product. And you need to work backwards from the “aha” metric to determine what both the user and the product need to do to reliably get someone to experience that “aha” moment, measured by the setup metric.”

On how to deal with the complexity of product

“The first approach is what we call progressive disclosure. The idea is that you only introduce the basic functionality of a product to keep the new user experience simple. Once that core functionality is well understood, you could start to layer in more complex things. The downside of progressive disclosure is that it only delays complexity. 

“The second approach is validating product-market fit of additional products, and then unbundling them, or witness framework. The idea is you have a product and you layer in a new product experience. Then, you can spin it out into a separate website or app. Therefore, that core app is no longer as complex because the additional functionality is somewhere else. The downside of using this approach is when you move this product, it needs to find a different way to acquire customers. 

“The third approach is just training the user or hacking complexity. You see this often in SaaS products, with training in the UI or educating customers manually. The downside of this is that if you’re introducing people in the process, they are expensive.

“The fourth one is segmenting user experiences or handling complexity. You see this a lot in B2B companies. You can segment users into different products that are the right level of complexity for their sophistication. However, it’s really hard to segment super cleanly. 

“Certainly the hardest is if you’re trying to keep the core product simple, but make advanced features discoverable, or what we call perceived simplicity. WhatsApp is a really great example. If you look at the WhatsApp screen, 90% is focused on chat. But if you need to call this person, it will take less than a second to figure out how. This is incredibly hard to pull off from a user experience perspective.”

About the speaker
Casey Winters Eventbrite , Fmr CPO Member

Casey Winters is an advisor and operator for scaling startups. Until recently, Casey was the Chief Product Officer at Eventbrite, having joined with impeccable timing a short time before the pandemic started. Casey led the PM, design, research, and growth marketing functions. Before Eventbrite, Casey led the growth product team at Pinterest, helping them grow from 40 million to 150 million active users. Casey was also the first marketing hire at Grubhub, leading demand-side growth from series A to IPO. Casey started his career as an analyst at Casey has advised companies such as Airbnb, Faire, Canva, Whatnot, Thumbtack, and Reddit on scaling, product, and growth. He blogs, inconsistently, at and built the Product Strategy, Retention & Engagement, and Advanced Growth Strategy programs for Reforge.

About the host
Rishikesh Yardi Instacart, Head of Chapter Seattle

Rishikesh is a Sr. Product Leader at Instacart. He has 10+ years of field knowledge at some of the most prestigious product companies in the world. He enjoys working on product development from the bottom-up and seeing products come to fruition.

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