Egnyte

Enterprise content services platform, Egnyte, builds an integrated approach to research with User Interviews.

With Cassandra Torda and Angela Ng, UX/UI Designers

Cassandra Torda and Angela Ng are UX/UI designers at Egnyte. They work alongside a small team of UX/UI designers to help create a whole lot of product. Not unlike many small design teams, they found themselves wanting to do more research throughout their product development cycle, to ultimately build better products faster. And if it was going to get done, they’d be the ones to do it—no full-time researchers to lean on. To make research a habit, they also needed to do it fast, on a budget, and actually get some value out of it.  

The Problem

With the goal of becoming more research driven in mind, the team set to work designing lean research studies. They relied on internal teams less familiar with the product as participants to start, but it didn’t take long to realize they’d get better insights from more specific participants, like their target customer.

So they did what any scrappy designer-turned-researcher would do and turned to Craigslist. It wasn’t a terrible experience, but it took a lot of time—time that could have been spent refining research scripts and prototypes to create better usability testing sessions. After a few months of this type of external user recruitment, they started to realize how similar their participants were to each other and how they didn’t mirror the diversity they had in their customer base.

Around this time, they may have also gotten booted from a Starbucks or two, recruiting local patrons and running guerilla usability tests amid a background of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and hopeful entrepreneurs. Trying to recruit participants in other establishments was ineffective because people were not receptive in these settings.

“There were some crazy times back then,” Angela shared.

The Solution

As the design team was outgrowing, and becoming frustrated with the time consuming and not-always-effective Craiglist/Starbucks method, they thought they’d try out User Interviews to recruit quality participants. (Sometimes those outbound sales emails land at exactly the right time!)

They were impressed. User Interviews “tackles the issue that most business have with user research.” And for them, recruiting was the biggest hurdle. Once they started using User Interviews on a regular basis, they were able to do more research faster.

A sample interview script from Egnyte. They ask some observational questions first to get to know the user. Then provide a scenario and introduce the mindset they want them to get in. Finally they have the user go through the prototype, asking questions along the way.

They’re able to find professionals by industry, location, demographic, technographics, or any custom criteria they need fast. They ended up being less biased in user recruitment since User Interviews has a much broader reach than they do. This led to more objective user research and high quality design iterations rooted in usability research.

Results

To date Egnyte has conducted over 20 studies with User Interviews, helping research to truly become a habit and ingrained step throughout their product development cycle.

Sample findings from a usability testing session.

They’re now doing more remote usability tests, which helps them get a greater diversity of participants faster, but still gain the insights they need.

They find the more research they do, the more it builds on itself, so that they need to do less discovery research for similar products, and can spend more time on usability studies for their completely new feature sets. Since User Interviews is completely method agnostic, it’s easy to use it according to your changing needs.

Usability Testing in Action, as told by Angela Ng

“One time in our early days of user research, usability testing saved one of our new features. We worked on this feature with some previous input from customers, but continued on in a direction that relied more on our intuition and competitive analyses. While this way of designing the feature resulted in mostly user-focused design, we decided to run our latest design iteration on external users who had not seen this product before. Through usability sessions with participants recruited using User Interviews, we uncovered some confusing parts of our design that led to a more cohesive design iteration. In one case, the designers had no problems with a specific interaction, but none of the usability participants managed to understand it. Through this early experience, it was obvious to the whole team how invaluable usability testing was.”

A sample presentation of their research findings after performing a usability test. They show it to stakeholders, so they can better understand what the insights from usability testing.

Ultimately, Angela, Cassandra, and team are now building better products faster with a sense of confidence that they’re building what users really want.

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