Visual Studio Acquisition

The Problem

The Microsoft Visual Studio team needed a new acquisition experience. Their existing model used a SKU selection system right up front where a user would pick which version of the product they wanted. The SKUs had minor differences between them. These differences weren’t notable for our target user, developers. All of the main features were present in each version.

Showing three SKUs to users added a level of confusion and often resulted in the user leaving in favor of another application or trying to search for more information which was difficult to find.

Once the user selected the sku, the launcher was downloaded. This launcher was lightweight, which was good, but prompted the user to add features to their install. This created another barrier to entry for users. They had to figure out which addons they wanted before working. Sometimes multiple addons were needed to simply start working in their desired programming language.

The user flow for the existing solution looked something like this:

The Solution

To address these issues we decided to move from a sku selection system to a user defined system. Instead of forcing the user to pick up from what they wanted to buy, they would pick what they wanted to use the software for. From there we could give them an easy install where we pick everything that will get them up and running as fast as possible instead of making them wade through dozens of addon options.

We picked our top four languages and systems based on user data and put those as the four options users could pick. We made sure to let them know more could be added later.

Our new user flow looked like this:


The Design

We implemented a tabular approach to the design. Many iterations were created before landing on this. We found through user testing that people easily understood this pattern. It also allowed to give more descriptive information on what the user could expect after clicking “download”.

After downloading, the user was shown a thank you page that included a Hello World tutorial to help users become familiar with the software. This was also implemented to help novice developers and students who may not be familiar with programming but are downloading the free trial to start learning.

We saw a lot of success with this new approach in user studies but were unable to implement a live version before my contract expired. Therefore I unfortunately do not have quantitative results.