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The next big rocks

Now that the giant weight of Cushion’s new onboarding has been lifted from my to-do list, I can move onto what’s next. So, what is next? Well, this is somewhat of an uncomfortable feeling because for once I’m not looking for another feature to build. Instead, I’ve started a list of necessary changes that inch me closer to turning Cushion around. It’s still way too early to tell with how much the new onboarding has affected metrics, but simply sending monthly newsletters again has rebounded growth into the positive.

The first big ticket item for me right now is flattening the navigation. That’s the broad idea, but if that’s the epic, my first real task is extracting invoicing from being nested under to the “Budget” section to its own top-level section. There are several reasons why, but the main one is that I’ve determined it’s a core selling-point for Cushion and is used more than any other feature, and yet it’s buried in a semi-related section. When someone needs to send an invoice, they shouldn’t have to dig, so let’s extract it to the top-level. Technically, this is easy, but there might need to be a transition period where the existing link to invoicing from the “Budget” section still remains until folks get used to it on the top-level. Moving it without doing that might cause people to believe that it was removed completely. No need to cause a panic.

Next, I’ll need to hide expenses for new users—for the nth time. I always struggle with this one because I try to convince myself that there is value to keeping it, so I bring it back shortly after. The truth is that the tiniest fraction of users actually use expenses. Meanwhile, the folks who don’t use it, but inquire about it, often ask for tons of expenses-related features that I have no plans to build. At the end of the day, expenses don’t play a role in Cushion’s focus. That might be surprising because expenses certainly affect your financial goals, but with Cushion, I’ve found that people either have an existing service that is fully featured around expenses with bank feeds and receipts, or they’re okay with focusing on gross income because they have a sense of their average expenses. The one expense-related item I might want to consider going forward is to adding an “expense” option for line items in invoicing, which is requested pretty frequently. That’s easy enough and doesn’t required an entire expenses solution.

Before diving further into flattening the nav, which could send me down a rabbit hole for months, the next big rock is to “revert” Cushion’s marketing site to one of its previous designs. In my post about inflection points, I realized that the most recent design, which was made for no real reason, actually stunted new signups. I think the main reason being its lack of focus or clarity on Cushion’s true value and the features that really hook people. Instead, I thought I needed to get people’s attention with a cycling animation demo’ing all the slick UI movement in Cushion. Oof.

While I wish reverting the design were as easy as doing git revert and calling it a day, this one might end up being a doozy because I need to upgrade the CMS as well. Most recently, I was using CraftCMS, but frustrations with its dev experience combined with SSL renewal hiccups with my Linode server caused me to rage quit and export the entire site as static, upload to S3, put behind a CDN, and never look back. Not the brightest idea, but at the time, I didn’t see myself making changes any time soon, and the SSL frustrations were real.

I’d love to avoid going back to the way it was, and I’ve been absolutely head-over-heels for Contentful since redesigning my own website, so I’m going to attempt to make the switch. I’m not a dummy, though—switching the entire site to a new CMS will also be a giant time-suck, so I’m going to first see if I can wire up only the homepage, then keep the rest of the static site around it. Little by little, I can update the rest, but for my current needs, I only need to revert the homepage.

Before I get too carried away, I’m going to put a bookmark in this right now. These tasks alone will realistically keep me busy for at least the next month, so I’ll be sure to continue detailing the path forward when I get through these few chapters. Until then, give Cushion a shot and let me know what you think. It’s far from perfect, but any feedback will continue to guide me in reshaping it.