On the podcast we talk with Jaycee about how Blinkist increased trial starts by 23%, how to balance user experience with business objectives, and why telling people how to cancel can actually lead to fewer cancellations.
⚖️ Balancing ethics and business means making tough decisions, but taking a smart approach lets you master both
🤝 Helping people unsubscribe isn’t the most intuitive thing for subscription app businesses, but ethical design patterns might be better for business in the long run
🔎 Transparency around the cancellation process can drive app success in multiple ways
About Jaycee Day
👨💻 Senior Product Designer at developer platform GitHub and previously at Blinkist
💪 Jaycee facilitated a sign-up increase of 23% following customer service complaints (which also dropped by 55%) at Blinkist. Even Apple took notice of her ethical design pattern
💡 “It's because of the transparency and the trust. … People have been burned so many times through other apps that it benefited us. … [Users thought,] Finally, an app that I can trust — they know how I feel, and they're listening. That was just super important: Letting people know that they can cancel [and that] they don't have to be scared of us.”
👋 Jaycee Day | LinkedIn | Twitter | Medium | GitHub
Jaycee Day, Senior Product Designer at developer platform GitHub, previously worked in the same type of role at Blinkist. There, she formed her ethical subscription design pattern now promoted by Apple and used by many top apps. During her time at Blinkist, Jaycee and her team oversaw impressive growth on several metrics, including a drop in customer complaints by 55%.
This success brought other benefits, too. Six months later, complaints were still down and were no longer a detractor at Blinkist, after plaguing the company for years prior. Revenue increased in turn, all the way to testing.
“We didn't do this deliberately,” she explains. Through tinkering and analysis with a bugged screen, they realized that while revenue wasn’t showing as expected, it was on the up and up. Perhaps most impressively of all, trial sign-up rates increased by 23%.
This was all thanks to Jaycee’s balancing user experience with business objectives — a hard path to tread and an even harder one to get right. After all, who would’ve thought that telling people to cancel their subscriptions might actually lead to fewer subscription cancellations?
Following this amazing success, Jaycee wowed the subscription app world with an article on UX Planet — the perfect place to expand her reach as far as possible in the user community space.
Jaycee talks about how the product discovery process led to investigating the chosen UX, her “designer brain,” the default move to transparency, the implementation process, and what evaluation looked like.
⚖️ Balancing ethics and business means making tough decisions, but taking a smart approach lets you master both.
There’s a tension between ethics and business objectives. By default, a certain number of people won't intend to be subscribed in the subscription app space — zombie subscribers who haven’t used the app for up to a year but are still subscribed because they’ve forgotten about it.
A for-profit company can benefit from lapsed memories in this way — so why would they not take customers’ money? But the flip side is that, from an ethical and even user experience perspective, unintentional payment isn’t a good thing. Jaycee’s natural “designer brain” helped her stand up for users, but she leveraged it into business concerns to reduce customer complaints and thus workload.
This naturally increased growth and App Store download numbers as well as tackling the problem of customer complaints. It was a win-win-win situation.
🤝 Helping people unsubscribe isn’t the most intuitive thing for subscription app businesses, but ethical design patterns might be better for business in the long run.
If more companies approach subscriptions through the lens of trust and transparency, the industry can move forward. Instead of every subscription app wringing the most money out of as many users as possible, sub apps can take their cue from Blinkist’s mission to make people happy about the apps they’re using.
People will want to use the apps more, and as Blinkist shows, subscribe in greater numbers. At the same time, there will always be people who want to unsubscribe, and this is no bad thing. Making the unsubscription process transparent benefits the business from a customer service standpoint, and it may lead to a word-of-mouth spread with greater net sign-up rates.
🔎Transparency around the cancellation process can drive app success in multiple ways.
Including an FAQ for how to cancel a subscription is a great start. “We started to notice that the more we mentioned ‘cancel’ on the subscription screen, the more trial sign-ups we would get, which is kind of backward,” Jaycee explains.
They also tinkered with the number of times cancellation was mentioned and with changing specific wording. Conversion increased by 9% with some of these tweaks. Including mentions within the app and offering further guidance within the App Store are other avenues worth exploring.
[1:47] Origin story: From founding to freelancing, Jaycee helped transform Blinkist in under three years.
[3:52] Internet fame: The ethical design pattern Jaycee helped evolve offers subscription apps the ability to understand the product discovery process in a different light. She talks about its inception at Blinkist.
[9:05] Zombie subscribers: The balance between business and ethics isn’t always easy to strike. Jaycee explains how customer empathy helped with product design.
[11:51] The first pitch: The early stages of ethical design and the goal of reducing customer complaints initially came from trial reminder testing. The reminders had the unintended positive consequence of increasing push notifications.
[16:29] The big rollout: With things on the up and up for Jaycee and her team, they built an A/B test prototype with “overwhelmingly positive” results.
[20:47] You can stop complaining now: A 55% drop in customer complaints wasn’t just theory. Why did it work so well?
[24:03] Mission unsubscription: It may not be the most intuitive thing for subscription apps to help people who don’t want to be subscribed to unsubscribe. But this effort brings indirect benefits like reducing cancellations and increasing trial sign-up rates.
[27:21] Retain and engage: Jaycee discusses how Blinkist was limited in its tracking capacities, but it used some unconventional markers to establish that the efforts were working.
[31:10] The biggest subscription app article of the year: Promoting principles via the user experience community brings more attention and business success.
[33:48] The aftermath: People care about the ethics of user experience as well as the business side. Jaycee discusses the major ripple effect of the ethical design she spearheaded: Case in point, Apple features it on their website.