What Is TTFHW?
Time to First Hello World, or TTFHW, is a key metric for product-focused organizations. This is the moment when a customer first derives value from your platform.
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TTFHW is not the most common acronym you’ll hear in the tech and product domain. Even though it’s not extremely common, it can be argued that it is one of the most important acronyms for companies trying to scoop up and deliver value to new users.
TTFHW, or Time To First Hello World, is likely something you’ve already thought about. Many product-led enthusiasts refer to it as the customers’ “aha!” moment. This is the moment when a customer first derives value from your platform. Something many programming languages and programmer tools refer to as a “Hello World” moment. It’s a make-or-break milestone and one that you obviously want every customer to experience. TTFHW is simply the amount of time it takes to get to that “aha!” moment.
What Is Hello World?
The term “Time To First Hello World” is derived from something that many software developers are aware of: the first time you run a program you’ve built in a new language (and the time it takes to get there). Many languages have Hello World guides, and many developers created their first programs with a new language by printing “Hello World” to a console or screen.
Without these moments, programming languages and frameworks would not bring us value. A Hello World program tends to be a small and simple program that a developer writes in a specific coding language. This program usually forms the building blocks for later programs they will code.
When applying this to a product, the “Hello World” or “aha!” moment might look a little different. It may be very simple, such as a user calling an API for the first time and receiving a response. Once they achieve the Hello World milestone, it’s assumed that they will continue to play around and use the product. The optimal outcome is that they hopefully become a paying customer.
In a more complex flow, we may have multiple steps to our Hello World event. For example, if we were running an e-commerce platform, our Hello World moment may occur only after a user has signed up, logged in, and successfully checked out with their first purchase. Of course, other applications and products may have an infinitely complex Hello World moment.
Defining Hello World for Your Product
Your product’s Hello World moment can only be defined by you. This is because every product is different. Only you can determine the first moment when a user receives value from your platform or product. There are a few ways to map out your Hello World moment; I’ll give a few more examples:
- If you’ve created a new programming language, this could be when the user compiles their code and runs their first program.
- If you’ve created an investment application, this could be the moment when a user first deposits funds into their account and makes their first trade.
- If you’ve created an API platform (that is monetized, especially), it may be the moment when the user makes their first API call, and a charge is added.
Your app most likely falls into none of these categories, or maybe it does. Regardless, you may need to really dig in to see what you consider your Hello World event (or events, plural).
If you have a multi-step Hello World, it’s important to track each step since you may be able to identify bottlenecks in your flow. For instance, if you have a 3 step process and step 1 is taking 90% of the time for users to accomplish, this is likely where you are also losing many users. Defining all 3 steps instead of just the last one gives us a true picture of where our issues are and where to optimize.
Time To First Hello World and Why It’s Important
Defining the Hello world moment for your product is a small part of the TTFHW equation. The largest factor is the time it actually takes to reach that point. There’s no “one size fits all” in terms of how long it should take but based on trends within new products and modern attitudes towards onboarding, it should be quick.
The longer it takes for a customer or user to reach the Hello World moment, the higher the likelihood of them dropping off and fully abandoning the product. This means that creating a lean flow to achieve that first Hello World moment is crucial. Especially in regards to a multi-step flow, each input and click should be carefully curated. Anything that can be done after that Hello World moment is achieved should be put off until then.
By tracking the Time To First Hello world, you can start to gather real metrics about what parts are taking the longest and where most users are dropping off. You’ll be able to see trends and thresholds, such as when a user “takes more than X number of minutes to complete the Hello World criteria, they usually abandon the product”. This means you can improve the flow and track to see if those improvements are making an impact.
There’s also a secondary remedy outside of simply improving the product. This approach may involve notifying your Customer Success team when a customer is exceeding the estimated threshold for TTFHW. Even better, you may do an in-app notification pointing them to further resources or possibly send them an automated email showing them how to move closer to that Hello World moment.
Decreasing your TTFHW is important because it’s what gets customers in the door and gets them excited to use the product. Minimizing the time until a user receives value is a win-win for both the user and your product. Optimizing user experience is the easiest to gauge when TTFHW is measured.
TTFHW and User Funnels in API Analytics
Since some API analytics are able to track user metrics with a high amount of granularity, it makes it easier to define, track, and improve your product TTFHW.
For example, let's say an API analytics tool creates a variable on a new API user's profile for TTFHW. This high-level TTFHW can be calculated as the difference between when the user was first added and when they performed their first API call. For some scenarios, this may be all the complexity needed to accurately determine your product’s TTFHW.
For more complex flows, you could use a funnel model to track each step of the Hello World journey and record the amount of time it takes between each step. This means that we can identify which steps are taking the longest in the entire flow instead of only focusing on a single event. With a funnel model, an infinite number of steps can be added to a user's journey to TTFHW. Below is an example of what a user funnel may look like within API analytics that provides a visualization.
This "user funnel" visualization reflects a scenario with 3 steps to complete the funnel. The first step is when the user signs up, the second step is when the user makes their first purchase/payment, and the final step is when the user completes their 100th purchase/payment. You’ll also notice that you can see the conversion rate for each step as well as the time to convert for each step.
An added bonus is that some products may have different Hello World moments depending on what type of user they are if your app supports different profiles and user types. For this, a user funnel can be set up for each of these scenarios so that each flow is accurately tracked.
Define, Track, and Improve Your TTFHW
Using API analytics to determine your product TTFHW and improve it is simple. Once integrated, your metrics can easily be used to determine all of the factors mentioned above.
Starting at a high level, you can easily define some crucial steps in your user funnel. The result of getting to the first Hello World is to later drive realized value for the user and from a business perspective. Here is an example of a funnel that follows a user’s initial visit to the page through to when they (And the business) receive realized value. You can see the average time between each step in the funnel as well as the conversion rate for each step.
When tracking these events, it’s important to track events both on the front end and back end. You may want to use one or both types of actions to define your user funnel. Below is an example of how these events might be split up based on the previous example.
No matter what the complexity is of getting to that first Hello World or “aha!” moment, tracking each step is an important part of attracting customers and retaining them. TTFHW is about calculating how long it takes to deliver that value. The general consensus is that the faster the TTFHW, the better chance you have of acquiring new customers. This is because the value is delivered upfront, ensuring that more customers reach that moment instead of abandoning your product.
Published at DZone with permission of Matt Tanner. See the original article here.
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