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Leveling up at customer research

An X growing from the ground.

We just wrapped up a week of usability testing for a new design I’ve been working on and thanks to Lynne Polischuik, a new researcher at Automattic, it went off without a hitch. She worked with another colleague, Lilibet Greig, to recruit, screen, and schedule all the participants and even helped me out with my script — all I had to do was show up with my prototype. In a little over a week, we knocked out eight one hour sessions as well as an initial synthesis of the key take aways. Who knew conducting research could be so easy?

The interviews

Our quick recruit yielded some folks that were a bit more advanced than we initially wanted, but that still helped give us insights into our developer and client services audiences. We started our interviews with a set of contextual questions that shed light on the different types of customers we serve, the problems they face, and their preferences — gold for our product and marketing teams!

Then we walked through the prototype which if it were up to me, we would have only tested two screens. Thanks to Lynne we ended up testing the entire sign-up funnel which gave us a ton of insight into the work we’ve been doing over the last year. We walked our participants through the prototype asking them to describe what they were seeing and the actions they would take. I was surprised by how much value we could from such a basic prototype.

Summarizing our findings

After our last interview, we organized our research, documented our findings, and then met to discuss our take aways. The discussion went really smooth thanks to a handy Mural board provided by Lynne. She created it before we started our interviews and asked us to add our insights as they came up. With everybody’s findings all in one place it was easy for us to group people’s insights into similar themes and have a productive conversation about our next steps.

Lynne’s help on this project was invaluable. She showed me how quick and easy it is to do research. I learned more about our sign-up process in this past week than I did all year looking at our data and funnels. It was also validating to see that some of my hunches about the gaps in our sign-up were correct but at the same time I learned my priorities were a little mixed up. These sessions brought more clarity to the problems in our sign-up flow and inspired me to think of different ways of solving them.

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