Revolutionized our product development process, as the first UX design hire

Revolutionized our product development process, as the first UX design hire

Revolutionized our product development process, as the first UX design hire

Organization:

Methodify

Timeframe:

2017-2019

My role:

Sole UX Designer

Tools:

Sketch, Whimsical

Organization:

Methodify

Timeframe:

2017-2019

My role:

Sole UX Designer

Tools:

Sketch, Whimsical

Organization:

Methodify

Timeframe:

2017-2019

My role:

Sole UX Designer

Tools:

Sketch, Whimsical

Industry

Market Research

Headquarters

Toronto

Founded

1998

Company size

70-80

As the first in-house designer, I was tasked with boosting retention through new features. But after discovering our low UX maturity, I took an unofficial leadership role to shift focus from sales-driven to user-centered design. Through workshops, documentation, and research, I managed to transform our product development process.

  • Solved retention issues in 2 months, previously unresolved for 2 years

  • Saved 100's of hours of dev work on the wrong features

  • Established our UX research practice

Industry

Market Research

Headquarters

Toronto

Founded

1998

Company size

70-80

As the first in-house designer, I was tasked with boosting retention through new features. But after discovering our low UX maturity, I took an unofficial leadership role to shift focus from sales-driven to user-centered design. Through workshops, documentation, and research, I managed to transform our product development process.

  • Solved retention issues in 2 months, previously unresolved for 2 years

  • Saved 100's of hours of dev work on the wrong features

  • Established our UX research practice

Industry

Market Research

Headquarters

Toronto

Founded

1998

Company size

70-80

As the first in-house designer, I was tasked with boosting retention through new features. But after discovering our low UX maturity, I took an unofficial leadership role to shift focus from sales-driven to user-centered design. Through workshops, documentation, and research, I managed to transform our product development process.

  • Solved retention issues in 2 months, previously unresolved for 2 years

  • Saved 100's of hours of dev work on the wrong features

  • Established our UX research practice

Context and research

Raising the organization’s UX maturity

From the start, I was discouraged/restricted from conducting research, and informed that my role was mainly to design new features in order to boost the low customer retention rate. (Detailed in the comic ->)

However, leadership was unable to answer two fundamental questions:

  1. Who are our users?

  2. Why is customer retention so low?


Therefore, my role ultimately entailed educating my team about user-centered design (via workshops and documentation), in addition to actually answering those questions via design.

Context and research

Raising the organization’s UX maturity

From the start, I was discouraged/restricted from conducting research, and informed that my role was mainly to design new features in order to boost the low customer retention rate. (Detailed in the comic ->)

However, leadership was unable to answer two fundamental questions:

  1. Who are our users?

  2. Why is customer retention so low?


Therefore, my role ultimately entailed educating my team about user-centered design (via workshops and documentation), in addition to actually answering those questions via design.

Context and research

Raising the organization’s UX maturity

From the start, I was discouraged/restricted from conducting research, and informed that my role was mainly to design new features in order to boost the low customer retention rate. (Detailed in the comic below)

However, leadership was unable to answer two fundamental questions:

  1. Who are our users?

  2. Why is customer retention so low?


Therefore, my role ultimately entailed educating my team about user-centered design (via workshops and documentation), in addition to actually answering those questions via design.

UX research methods

I was able to create a detailed user persona after conducting research through a variety of methods, including:

  • User interviews

  • Internal stakeholder interviews

  • Competitive analysis

  • Web analytics (via Inspectlet)

  • Robust industry reports (eg. GRIT report)

UX research methods

I was able to create a detailed user persona after conducting research through a variety of methods, including:

  • User interviews

  • Internal stakeholder interviews

  • Competitive analysis

  • Web analytics (via Inspectlet)

  • Robust industry reports (eg. GRIT report)

UX research methods

I was able to create a detailed user persona after conducting research through a variety of methods, including:

  • User interviews

  • Internal stakeholder interviews

  • Competitive analysis

  • Web analytics (via Inspectlet)

  • Robust industry reports (eg. GRIT report)

Four costly misconceptions

My research uncovered four widely-held misconceptions that impeded progress within our organization.

  1. More features will boost retention

The organization hoped that building new features would help retain customers.

The reality: New custom features helped convert certain prospects, but cost a lot to develop and did not improve retention.

  1. Users go through a 3-step process

Users employ Methodify like this:

  1. Create survey

  2. Send survey to get responses

  3. Receive (and review) the report

The reality: Methodify neglected the most important step (data preparation).

  1. The app is used a presentation tool

Users would directly open Methodify and present research findings to stakeholders with the app.

The reality: Users use PowerPoint for their presentations, since they have more control. Furthermore, many decks are created for later consumption.

  1. We must be mobile-first

An agency had previously designed a mobile version of the app, and being a “mobile-first company” seemed to be an important point for marketing purposes.

The reality: Most pages were unusable on mobile, and there was no indication that users even cared about that.

Uncovering these misconceptions made it easy to answer the second fundamental question:

Four costly misconceptions

My research uncovered four widely-held misconceptions that impeded progress within our organization.

  1. More features will boost retention

The organization hoped that building new features would help retain customers.

The reality: New custom features helped convert certain prospects, but cost a lot to develop and did not improve retention.

  1. Users go through a 3-step process

Users employ Methodify like this:

  1. Create survey

  2. Send survey to get responses

  3. Receive (and review) the report

The reality: Methodify neglected the most important step (data preparation).

  1. The app is used a presentation tool

Users would directly open Methodify and present research findings to stakeholders with the app.

The reality: Users use PowerPoint for their presentations, since they have more control. Furthermore, many decks are created for later consumption.

  1. We must be mobile-first

An agency had previously designed a mobile version of the app, and being a “mobile-first company” seemed to be an important point for marketing purposes.

The reality: Most pages were unusable on mobile, and there was no indication that users even cared about that.

Uncovering these misconceptions made it easy to answer the second fundamental question:

Four costly misconceptions

My research uncovered four widely-held misconceptions that impeded progress within our organization.

  1. More features will boost retention

The organization hoped that building new features would help retain customers.

The reality: New custom features helped convert certain prospects, but cost a lot to develop and did not improve retention.

  1. Users go through a 3-step process

Users employ Methodify like this:

  1. Create survey

  2. Send survey to get responses

  3. Receive (and review) the report

The reality: Methodify neglected the most important step (data preparation).

  1. The app is used a presentation tool

Users would directly open Methodify and present research findings to stakeholders with the app.

The reality: Users use PowerPoint for their presentations, since they have more control. Furthermore, many decks are created for later consumption.

  1. We must be mobile-first

An agency had previously designed a mobile version of the app, and being a “mobile-first company” seemed to be an important point for marketing purposes.

The reality: Most pages were unusable on mobile, and there was no indication that users even cared about that.

Uncovering these misconceptions made it easy to answer the second fundamental question:

💡 Customer retention was low because:
the app was simply not meeting users’ needs

💡 Customer retention was low because:
the app was simply not meeting users’ needs

💡 Customer retention was low because the app was simply not meeting users’ needs

Identifying the real problem (and solution)

My research showed that my team had invested too much in the survey creation UX (the previous priority), and not enough in reporting.

Therefore, I made research documentation to help the team understand that users need to:

  1. Manipulate data (to analyze it in creative ways)

  2. Prepare it for a presentation (whether live, or in a document for later consumption)

User Scenario Map showing frustrations with the current reporting UX

User Journey Map showing how users actually want to use our app

Identifying the real problem (and solution)

My research showed that my team had invested too much in the survey creation UX (the previous priority), and not enough in reporting.

Therefore, I made research documentation to help the team understand that users need to:

  1. Manipulate data (to analyze it in creative ways)

  2. Prepare it for a presentation (whether live, or in a document for later consumption)

User Scenario Map showing frustrations with the current reporting UX

User Journey Map showing how users actually want to use our app

Identifying the real problem (and solution)

My research showed that my team had invested too much in the survey creation UX (the previous priority), and not enough in reporting.

Therefore, I made research documentation to help the team understand that users need to:

  1. Manipulate data (to analyze it in creative ways)

  2. Prepare it for a presentation (whether live, or in a document for later consumption)

User Scenario Map showing frustrations with the current reporting UX

User Journey Map showing how users actually want to use our app

Design leadership

In order to raise our UX maturity level, I had to fill an unofficial design leadership role.

Once I determined users’ needs, I ran cross-functional workshops to collect the best ideas on design solutions. We decided to move forward with my recommendations on improving the reporting UX.

I then began our “Reporting 2.0” project by prioritizing functionality and features, and creating user stories and writing acceptance criteria in JIRA, to help the development team implement the designs.

Photo at the end of a brainstorming workshop

Red routes matrix used to prioritize features

Design leadership

In order to raise our UX maturity level, I had to fill an unofficial design leadership role.

Once I determined users’ needs, I ran cross-functional workshops to collect the best ideas on design solutions. We decided to move forward with my recommendations on improving the reporting UX.

I then began our “Reporting 2.0” project by prioritizing functionality and features, and creating user stories and writing acceptance criteria in JIRA, to help the development team implement the designs.

Photo at the end of a brainstorming workshop

Red routes matrix used to prioritize features

Design leadership

In order to raise our UX maturity level, I had to fill an unofficial design leadership role.

Once I determined users’ needs, I ran cross-functional workshops to collect the best ideas on design solutions. We decided to move forward with my recommendations on improving the reporting UX.

I then began our “Reporting 2.0” project by prioritizing functionality and features, and creating user stories and writing acceptance criteria in JIRA, to help the development team implement the designs.

Photo at the end of a brainstorming workshop

Red routes matrix used to prioritize features

Designing "Reporting 2.0"

Audit and wireframes

I conducted an audit of our reporting UX (with some issues annotated below), and made wireframes to solve a variety of problems. The focus was on data manipulation and preparation (for presentations).

Annotations of initial Reporting Page, identifying problems

Designing "Reporting 2.0"

Audit and wireframes

I conducted an audit of our reporting UX (with some issues annotated below), and made wireframes to solve a variety of problems. The focus was on data manipulation and preparation (for presentations).

Annotations of initial Reporting Page, identifying problems

Designing "Reporting 2.0"

Audit and wireframes

I conducted an audit of our reporting UX (with some issues annotated below), and made wireframes to solve a variety of problems. The focus was on data manipulation and preparation (for presentations).

Annotations of initial Reporting Page, identifying problems

Validation

Although I designed dozens of features at Methodify (including customer-specific research methods) “Reporting 2.0” was specifically focused on boosting retention.

During my wireframing phase, I ran usability tests with a paper prototype to validate the designs.

My tests confirmed the new UI was both more powerful and intuitive than the original design.

Validation

Although I designed dozens of features at Methodify (including customer-specific research methods) “Reporting 2.0” was specifically focused on boosting retention.

During my wireframing phase, I ran usability tests with a paper prototype to validate the designs.

My tests confirmed the new UI was both more powerful and intuitive than the original design.

Validation

Although I designed dozens of features at Methodify (including customer-specific research methods) “Reporting 2.0” was specifically focused on boosting retention.

During my wireframing phase, I ran usability tests with a paper prototype to validate the designs.

My tests confirmed the new UI was both more powerful and intuitive than the original design.

Comparing the reporting page

Although I designed dozens of features at Methodify (including customer-specific research methods) “Reporting 2.0” was specifically focused on boosting retention.

Comparing the reporting page

Although I designed dozens of features at Methodify (including customer-specific research methods) “Reporting 2.0” was specifically focused on boosting retention.

Comparing the reporting page

Although I designed dozens of features at Methodify (including customer-specific research methods) “Reporting 2.0” was specifically focused on boosting retention.

The new Story Builder

Story Builder, which was fundamental to Reporting 2.0, has two overarching benefits:

  • For users: Enable users to manipulate data quickly and customize decks, in a new feature that leverages familiarity with PowerPoint (meant to be simpler but not as powerful).

  • For us: Keep users inside the app, so we can learn more about how we can help them (eg. How do people manipulate or prepare their data for later presentation?)

The new Story Builder

Story Builder, which was fundamental to Reporting 2.0, has two overarching benefits:

  • For users: Enable users to manipulate data quickly and customize decks, in a new feature that leverages familiarity with PowerPoint (meant to be simpler but not as powerful).

  • For us: Keep users inside the app, so we can learn more about how we can help them (eg. How do people manipulate or prepare their data for later presentation?)

The new Story Builder

Story Builder, which was fundamental to Reporting 2.0, has two overarching benefits:

  • For users: Enable users to manipulate data quickly and customize decks, in a new feature that leverages familiarity with PowerPoint (meant to be simpler but not as powerful).

  • For us: Keep users inside the app, so we can learn more about how we can help them (eg. How do people manipulate or prepare their data for later presentation?)

Key takeaways

Here are the main things I learnt from this project:

  1. Don’t base design decisions on assumptions: Without research, the company had been wasting tens of thousands of dollars on the wrong things. I was able to identify what users need, and avoid costly mistakes made by the earlier design agency.

  2. Don’t work in a silo: Including others in the process helps prevent push-back on designs, and helps people understand the UX better. Furthermore, as a solo designer, the insights I got from working closely with an amazing development team were invaluable. Devs have great ideas for design!

  3. Implement analytics early: We didn't have analytics set up until later in the design process. But it's important to have baseline data in order to monitor how design iterations influence behavior and user sentiment over time.

  4. Low UX maturity organizations aren’t worth it: Having to resort to conducting research outside of work hours exemplifies the context in which my work was routinely impeded due to low UX maturity. However, the organization eventually understood the value of UX, since they hired three full-time UX designers to take my place after my departure.

Key takeaways

Here are the main things I learnt from this project:

  1. Don’t base design decisions on assumptions: Without research, the company had been wasting tens of thousands of dollars on the wrong things. I was able to identify what users need, and avoid costly mistakes made by the earlier design agency.

  2. Don’t work in a silo: Including others in the process helps prevent push-back on designs, and helps people understand the UX better. Furthermore, as a solo designer, the insights I got from working closely with an amazing development team were invaluable. Devs have great ideas for design!

  3. Implement analytics early: We didn't have analytics set up until later in the design process. But it's important to have baseline data in order to monitor how design iterations influence behavior and user sentiment over time.

  4. Low UX maturity organizations aren’t worth it: Having to resort to conducting research outside of work hours exemplifies the context in which my work was routinely impeded due to low UX maturity. However, the organization eventually understood the value of UX, since they hired three full-time UX designers to take my place after my departure.

Key takeaways

Here are the main things I learnt from this project:

  1. Don’t base design decisions on assumptions: Without research, the company had been wasting tens of thousands of dollars on the wrong things. I was able to identify what users need, and avoid costly mistakes made by the earlier design agency.

  2. Don’t work in a silo: Including others in the process helps prevent push-back on designs, and helps people understand the UX better. Furthermore, as a solo designer, the insights I got from working closely with an amazing development team were invaluable. Devs have great ideas for design!

  3. Implement analytics early: We didn't have analytics set up until later in the design process. But it's important to have baseline data in order to monitor how design iterations influence behavior and user sentiment over time.

  4. Low UX maturity organizations aren’t worth it: Having to resort to conducting research outside of work hours exemplifies the context in which my work was routinely impeded due to low UX maturity. However, the organization eventually understood the value of UX, since they hired three full-time UX designers to take my place after my departure.