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This guide is based on Mixergy’s interview with Jason Fried.

Jason Fried knew that introducing a new version of his app was risky because customers might not like the changes, so he built a spectacular product and users liked the new version even better than the old one. It was all done by building products people love, so we invited him to teach you how to do it.

Jason is the co-founder of 37signals, which runs the Basecamp project management app.

Here are the actionable highlights from the interview.

1. Eliminate clunky features so you can get rid of things customers hate

Customers told Jason they were confused by Basecamp’s process for uploading different versions of files, so he killed that feature and made the app easier to use.

Take Action:
Get customer feedback, and get rid of features that customers have told you they dislike.

2. Choose features to add to improve your product

At first, Basecamp just showed pages for projects, but Jason added pages for people because his instinct told him it would be helpful to see everything a person was working on in one place.

Take Action:
Think of new features that would make your product better based on your experience using your product and customer feedback.

3. Listen to your customer support staff to learn how users will react to changes

Jason should have listened when his customer support team said people would need a way to sort files into categories, but he didn’t include that feature in the second version of Basecamp and lots of customers asked for it.

Take Action:
Before you release a new version of your product, show it to your customer support staff and ask for their advice about which features to keep in or take out.

4. Rotate employees’ jobs so they’ll get a turn responding to customers

Jason makes all his developers take turns working with the customer support team, and the direct feedback they get from customers helps them build products that are easier to use.

Take Action:
Have your product developers take turns spending a few weeks in customer support, and give them a chance to answer customers’ questions and fix bugs that customers point out.

5. Maintain your old product so you won’t force anyone to switch to a new one

Jason continued running the original version of Basecamp after he launched the new version, and people were happy that they didn’t have to switch to an unfamiliar product if they weren’t ready.

Take Action:
Keep providing customer support for old versions of your products, and teach people about the advantages of the new versions without pressuring them to switch right away.

6. Don’t give too much away free so customers will pay for your product

Jason says that instead of offering a free trial, a company selling a product that cleans up address books should show the first 50 results in prospects’ address books, then require them to pay to get all their contacts cleaned up.

Take Action:
Show people a small sample of what your product can do, but don’t let them use your product for a long period without paying for it.

Want to make sure you get results?

Watch the full interview now
Written by Sarah Brodsky, based on production notes by Jeremy Weisz