How to figure out your “Aha moment!”?

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Do you remember the last time you said: “Wow! That’s awesome! That’s exactly what I needed!” Hold on to that memory because that was an “Aha moment!”.

Our history is littered with “aha moments” that have changed the world. For example, when the Ancient Greek scholar Archimedes once stepped into his bath, he was amazed to see the level of the water rise. Archimedes realized that the displacement of water was equal to the volume of his submerged body. Legend has it that upon discovering the water displacement, Archimedes jumped out of the bath and cried, “Eureka!”.

“Eureka!” can be roughly translated as “I found it!”. Archimedes had found the solution to something which had troubled him for a while. Arguably, this could be one of the first and most notable examples of an “Aha moment.”

The SaaS world’s version of “Eureka!” is the “Aha moment.” In software, it’s the pivotal moment when a new user first realizes the value of your product and why they need it. This usually happens in the early stage of the customer lifecycle. But, as a part of the onboarding flow. As Oprah Winfrey says, “you can’t have an Aha! moment unless you already knew it. The Aha is a remembering of what you already knew, articulated in a way to resonate with your truth”.

“Aha moments” can happen in different stages of the customer lifecycle. To help you understand what an “Aha moment” feels like in real life, for real companies, here are some examples: Facebook’s “7 friends in 10 days”,  users who added seven friends in their first ten days after signing up were more likely to stick around and become active customers. Netflix creates its aha moment by giving the user something to watch in less than a minute. It uses an algorithm to determine what’s trending and popular, and it gets first-time users watching something as quickly as possible. Essentially, “Aha moments” are the positive reactions behind a user experience.

Finding and improving your own service’s “Aha moment” is not an easy task, so we put together this article to walk you through the process and make your job a little easier.

There are two types of “Aha moments” that you might experience 

Namely, your “aha moment” and the “users aha moment.” The first one is that emotional point in the life of your company through which you realize that you have a “Eureka moment”, a key idea or insight on what to build to make your customer’s life easier. For example, you are thinking of making some changes to the website, adding new services, implementing a promotion campaign, etc. The “Aha moment” from the perspective of your users is that point in the user lifecycle when they realize key value from your product. Specifically, they find that your product/services have helped them to find the solution for a problem or a need that they are facing now. Often these two types of “ Aha moments” are not one and the same. 

If you think creating an “Aha moment” is an easy step, unfortunately, it is not; we need to consider many things when we commit to guiding users to reach this point. First, you have to keep in mind that you need to make users understand why it is essential to continue their journey on your website. Also, don’t forget to remove all the obstacles that could prevent them from reaching the point where they find that what you offer them is exactly what they are looking for. At Pinterest, Casey wanted to get users to save a pin as quickly as possible, but forcing them to save a pin immediately upon entering the product would have skipped the setup. The users needed to understand why that action was important. To solve that, Pinterest removed all functionality in the onboarding process that didn’t help someone save a pin. That gave the users one task and a solid path to getting there without shortcutting it. 

According to Chameleon, improving the users’ first 5 minutes of trying out your product can increase 50% in lifetime value. This means that during onboarding, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of a good “Aha moment”. It can be vital to your survival, especially since competition lurks at every corner to pick up where you bungled things up. Our advice is to understand better the process by which your client gets to this point, taking into account all the clues they leave and not just your assumptions.

  • Start by defining a performance metric that will indicate success (ex: long-term retention). Here you can learn more about the three retention stages to reduce churn rate.
  • List out all the user metrics you’re tracking during the defined onboarding period. Find here more about how to better understand customer behavior and how to conduct a successful onboarding process.
  • Perform regression analysis to figure out the relationship between metrics. Also, in this article, you will learn how you can generate an impact on the business using data and analysis about customer behavior.

What does an “Aha moment” feel like?

An “Aha moment” is a powerful feeling. More precisely can be an emotional reaction to the discovery of a feature. It can drive your customers to research your product and relentlessly find a way to buy it. Three things happen when they feel this:

  • They understand how a product can easily solve your problem.
  • They experience a product’s value proposition.
  • They achieve a solution and result very quickly that might have taken hours normally.

Usually, the “Aha moment” helps users solve a problem, and they love you for it. You’ve saved them a lot of time, effort, and perhaps you’ve saved them a lot of money too. Essentially, the “Aha moment” turns users into happy, paying customers. At the same time, research from Harvard Business Review has shown that feeling even slightly happy, as opposed to anxious, is conducive to eureka moments and insightful problem-solving. That’s because people tend to notice a wider range of information when they feel happy than when they feel concerned.

Sometimes the effects of the feeling are so strong that it drives our behaviors and ability of decision-making. For example, when we identify or experience something rewarding such as a notification from Twitter that says “Someone retweeted your post! ?”, our brain releases dopamine, oxytocin, or serotonin which are the chemicals that make us feel good and give a motivation to keep going on the task or behavior. “Aha moments” also make the user decide to use a product or to resort to certain services or actions.

Most people think of an epiphany as an “Aha moment”, a recognition of an idea or truth that feels utterly natural and obvious but which your brain perceives as new information. Here, researchers are talking about the “Eureka Heuristic” and they said: “We propose that feelings of insight and their intensity reflect the degree to which one’s existing knowledge coheres with a new idea appearing in consciousness. This feeling can then provide a useful heuristic signal about whether the idea is valuable, given past experience and existing knowledge.” To provide an analogy: similar to the way that fear signals how dangerous a situation is, or hunger signals how hungry one is, we suggest that the “Aha moment” signals that we should pay attention to an idea and in turn ignore the other myriad thoughts appearing in consciousness.

Also, other researchers claim that this “Aha moment” feels subjectively from one person to another. Recent work has thus begun focusing on insight phenomenology, the reportable subjective qualities that accompany a sudden solution, which may include feelings of certainty and obviousness, relief, surprise, pleasure, and drive. 

One thing you must be careful of is cognitive bias, which can happen when you believe your users have the same amount of knowledge as you, and you can end up hindering “Aha moments” with this type of thinking. Therefore, user testing is imperative, so we have prepared the best ways to understand your “Aha moment” in the following. 

How to find your product’s “Aha moment”?

It’s not always easy to find the aha moment, even if you know your product perfectly. Moreover, your insider vision may be an obstacle. Being immersed in your product and finding yourself within its context, you may experience difficulties walking in your customers’ shoes. To discover the aha moment of the services offered, this is why at Algotech we rely on three main stages:

Step 1 – Identify your power users

Start by finding your power users. Josh Elman, who helped grow user bases of products like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, explains the value of uncovering your power users’ stories: “I frequently get asked what are benchmarks for retention after one day or one week….Ignore the benchmarks. Find the patterns in the stories of people who do get your product. Figure out what converted them and got them so excited to keep using your product every day or every week.” To do this, you can use a survey to find out the people who’d be “very disappointed” if your product disappears tomorrow, or rely on your customer data and create a segment with your most active users. Based on our experience, we can tell you to identify customer goals and look for common patterns of behavior by asking simple questions like:

  • How do you use the [product] you’ve purchased?
  • Are there features you use all the time? How?
  • What do you love most about our product?
  • What’s something you wish [your product] could do?
  • What made you decide you wanted to pay for the [product]?
  • Are there features you never use? Why not?

The answers will help you better understand your customer’s experience with the product and identify the point where the “Aha moment” occurred.

Step 2 – Find behavioral patterns that relate to retention

The challenge in this step is to avoid biases and assumptions that come from your instinctive feeling. Focus on analyzing the real actions of your users. It is essential not to force this step, as certain products or services may take longer until the key moment is correctly identified, during which time failures will hit you. In this sense, you could talk to users that have churned. This is important because they are the ones that didn’t find the value they expected from your product. Finding out why this is will provide clarity around why, and will help you avoid the same mistake in the future by making tweaking your user onboarding. Here are some questions you can ask them:  

  • What were you hoping to get out of our product? 
  • What was the problem you were trying to solve with our product? 
  • Why did our product not meet your expectations? 
  • Is there anything you found frustrating or confusing about using our product? 
  • What could we have done to keep you?

Step 3 – Test the“assumed” Aha moments with new users

Once you have the path to an “Aha moment” in your product mapped out and some ideas for how you might bring more users to it, test out some of those hypotheses. The most common way to test your assumptions is to run an A/B test—to present two groups of users with two different versions of the same page, design, or onboarding flow. You do this while measuring some metric, usually conversion rate, and at the end of the test, you see how your different variants changed that metric.

For the A/B tests to work correctly, make sure that one of the segments is a control group that isn’t exposed to the changes you made. This allows you to test your current iteration to a new, experimental iteration. It’s also important to only test one change at a time. If you are conducting multiple changes at once, your data can become convoluted and you will not be able to identify and silo the main reason for a test’s success or failure. In the end, you’re looking to perform a valid test to see which group performed the best. 

We know these steps may be challenging to follow at first, but we can help. How? Our company designs beautiful, easy-to-use mobile and web products that meet your business and users’ needs. Through them, you will indeed produce an “aha moment” for your customers and remain imprinted in their minds. This way, your efforts will be simplified, your customers will be satisfied, and you will bring your services or products to another, more innovative level.

Resources to master the “Aha moment”

Knowing how users think when they use your product or service can create an integrated experience that helps them see the value earlier. Thus, research shows that there are several principles that product designers use to guide users to the “Aha moment”: 

Reducing your product’s time to value = reducing time to the aha momentwhether you’re selling software as a service or furniture, every customer buys your product to receive a specific benefit. What do we mean by that? For some products, the benefit comes immediately, for example, say it’s raining and you duck into a nearby store to buy an umbrella. The time to value is immediate, you see the value of no longer getting soaked straight away. Your “aha moment” is realized the moment you stay dry. 

Sometimes the benefit comes after a bit of effort. Take a product like Expensify, for example. Signing up for expense management software doesn’t provide value. The “Aha moment” comes when a user files their first hassle-free expense report, a task that requires several steps to complete. Usually, people have limited patience and if they don’t reach that aha moment quickly, they’re likely to feel that their time is being wasted. So strive to show users how your product can help them improve their lives as soon as possible.

The goal gradient effect – the closer users are to reaching a goal, the more they will strive to achieve it. For example, showing users a progress bar with a substantial percentage already completed helps users feel like they’ve already made some progress and are not starting from scratch. Proceeding in this way, you motivate them to reach the point of “Aha moment”!

Speak-easy effect – is just another term for familiarity bias (or the familiarity heuristic). When the things a company or product says seem familiar to users, they trust that it is true and that the company’s interests are good, increasing the likelihood that they will reach the “Aha moment” and purchase the products or services. Familiarity is related to how easily we can process information. Further, social psychological research also finds that when we read a statement or message with ease, we tend to feel we’ve heard it before, therefore suggesting that it may be popular. For example, one study showed that people rated food additives as more harmful when their names were more difficult to pronounce.

Endowment effect – the tendency to ascribe value to products that people think they own is known as the endowment effect. A classic experiment was done by Kahneman, Knetsch & Thaler (1990) on the Endowment Effect. People were each given a coffee mug and then given a choice to sell or swap it for an equally-priced alternative which, in this case, was a pen. Fascinatingly, they found that people wanted to be paid twice the money for their coffee mug as they’d themselves be willing to pay for the pen. Look for ways to customize the user experience or provide personalization options early in your user onboarding flow; here are some examples of how you can do that. By adding personal details and customizing their preferences, users make the application/website “theirs,” so they are more likely to give more value during their experience. 

Choice paradox – if your users have ever felt overwhelmed by the multitude of options on your website, then they have suffered from the paradox of choice. Therefore as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having many options begin to appear. Making a decision becomes difficult or impossible. Not only do they feel mentally exhausted after choosing from many different options, but it also leaves them feeling that they could have made a better choice or missed something important. Overwhelmed by all this, they risk not seeing the important things for them that could lead them to an “Aha moment.”

Zeigarnik effect – refers to the uncompleted tasks that stick in your mind more than completed ones. The psychological tension provided by an incomplete state helps us recall any relevant information we might need to complete the task. In our situation, it was found that new users who perform a certain task on the website are ten times more likely to subscribe to a paid account than those who do not. A task can be to choose a theme, a color, an image, etc. Companies can cause multiple users to take action and eventually subscribe to their services by targeting a critical “moment aha” as an incomplete task.

The psychology of checklists why do users continue to fail when given the information and tools they need to get to an “Aha moment” and eventually subscribe to the services? It’s not a problem of brain capability, humans can hold 4.7 million books in their memory. Instead, the problem is getting the information and the method into the brain in the first place. To explain this, Daniel Kahneman discusses two systems for how our brain works:  

System 1: Lets humans function with minimal mental effort. These are things we do automatically that feel natural and intuitive. System 1 is fast. 

System 2: This is for conscious, deliberate thought that takes a lot of effort. This is for big decisions and problem-solving. System 2 is slow.

It is not at all surprising that users prefer to use system one thinking whenever they can. It is faster and requires less effort. And that’s why users love checklists. For example, you can create a map on your website with your users’ steps. So, when they don’t know how to do a specific action on your website or how to get to a certain point of interest, they will consult this map. It helps prevent failures, promotes productivity, and produces good results.

The power of self-directed learningletting users discover your product at their own pace (means rather than being funneled down a specific path) users can learn about your product as they go. Then, if they need help, they can find it.

First of all, here, we could create some scaffolding, more precisely a set of training techniques and tools, used to guide users to understand better the product and the services offered. In software, that scaffolding takes the form of blog posts, product lifecycle emails, support chats, tutorials, etc. Providing information when a user needs it in various formats can be a real help. Secondly, create clear paths to completion and show progress. Act as a guide letting the user know what has been done and what is waiting to be completed. Whether you use a progress bar, a series of numbered steps, or a checklist of tasks, all of these are powerful and effective ways to boost user engagement.

Third, try to keep your onboarding as simple as possible, fewer steps mean fewer opportunities for confusion. Introduce your product or service, explaining to users just the essential elements of them. In this way, you will help push customers through the onboarding process and toward their realization of value much more quickly. Fourth, empty states are an excellent way to educate users on using your product and not leave them at a loss without any form of direction. So, prepopulate empty states with examples. This strategy also encourages learning by doing, which allows you to quickly show users the power of your product, helping them reach their “Aha moment” faster and increasing the likelihood that they’ll stick around.


“Aha moment” is not something you simply guess or intuit. It’s something that you cultivate through user research, understanding your product’s value, and experimentation. Putting all of this together to identify your product’s “aha moment” will help you to understand your product better, how users engage with it, and the key factor that keeps them coming back for more!

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