Path is truly a remarkable technology. For the past few weeks, I’ve only used Path and I have nothing but a glowing review. Path is the mobile app I wish Facebook was.
I’ve pondered Path’s goals on adoption, engagement, and capturing the market. From Path’s demo video, their focus is middle America, the nuclear family, and close friendships. Path is designed to foster connections that already exist by creating a more valuable user experience with your intimate circles over using other social networking options. Path is about depth, not breadth, which presents interesting adoption challenges.
While Path’s outbound messaging is quite clear, the product leans more agnostic on how you use it. Though the 150 friends rule is understood, the product does not help me wrestle with the decision of who to add. Using Path on a day to day basis inspired three growth hacks that can solve this user dilemma and improve adoption and engagement.
1) Facebook invite with a friendly boost
Path has a solid integration with Facebook that actually works! However, sending invites to my Facebook network is a challenge. Path lists all of my Facebook friends in alphabetical order (see screenshot below). Like most people, I don’t know 80% of my Facebook friends, so the list is mostly meaningless. With 150 available friend slots, I spent too much time thinking who I should invite and why over making connections in Path. In my first pass, I invited only my friends with names that start with “A” or “B”. For a few weeks, I didn’t even bother adding my best friend for 7 years because his name starts with a “D”.
A better way is to use Facebook’s API is to utilize my close friend list on Facebook (documentation). Path solves the philosophical Facebook friend problem: how can I be friends with 500+ people? Though lost in the newsfeed, Facebook still maintains those close friend connections but in a less than optimal way. Path can take advantage of this fact.
An invite screen with Facebook lists integration will help me invite my close friends quickly. The integration should display three things to aid me in making connections on Path (mockup below):
- my close friends who have added me on Path (ex. Brandon);
- my close friends who are on Path but we are not connected (ex. Daniel through Steven);
- my close friends who do not have Path (ex. Adam)
This deeper integration with Facebook will focus users on who they will likely invite to Path over showing them all of the possible options.
2) Family invites should be required
If you watch Path’s demo video, you immediately notice the emphasis on staying connected with family; however, Path does not reinforce this family-centric message in the product. Adding trackable family invites in a core product administration screen, like “Settings” (mockup below), would consistently remind me that I need to add my family to Path (this will have similar UX effects as a progress bar).
At first pass, this seems like a difficult implementation since no family is alike. Totally true! However, adding an “edit” button would solve most of the build problems with heterogeneous family structures. The “edit” button allows users to add or delete family members that are not relevant to them. Since Path is targeting the average American, a homogeneous family structure is still a safe assumption for standard settings. In the long run, the promoter score of this feature could be quite powerful.
3) All of my contacts are not created equal
Path is heavily integrated with my address book. Just like with Path’s Facebook integration, Path lists all of my contacts as if all are created equal (screenshot below). A problem arises with an alphabetical list as some contacts are more important than others.
Since Path knows my full name, a reordered list based upon common contact names for family members and contacts with my last name will be far more helpful and convincing for sending invites than an alphabetical list (mockup below). Contacts with the name “Mom”, “Dad”, or “Grandma” and contacts with my last name are likely to be added to my Path. Generally speaking, the more generic the contact title the more depth the relationship has offline.
Path was built with the intention of creating a relatively “closed system” of sharing. Users create a deeper connection within Path which frames external sharing as intellectually counter-productive (“I thought my Path friends were the important ones. Why I am sharing to these other people?”). This is a viral barrier but intentionality designed as such. Other social networks find more value in reach but Path values depth. An angle on depth puts a higher priority on adding specific contacts as the people within my close friend or family circles is stable overtime.
From a focus on depth, the game of choosing which friend to add on Path feels reminiscent of my school days on the playground and picking my dodge-ball team. Path “invites” and Path “adds” felt like too much work and awkward. The decision is nerve racking because we know someone will be left out. An “inviting friends” distribution channel operates best when users are framed and primed with a “why” (sign up for early access on how to do this). Improving the process of adding people on Path will make my user experience lasting and far more powerful.
Disclaimer: This post was written without knowledge of Path’s data, future product, or Path’s strategic plans. This post is my words and my thoughts alone without any contact with Path employees.