Jumpstarting a UX Research Program at Acquia
by Christine Perfetti
This April, at the Lean UX NYC Conference, Ezra Gildesgame and I will co-present a half-day workshop, Communicating the Business Value and Getting Buy-in for UX Research. In our workshop, we will share techniques for selling your internal stakeholders on the importance of research for making business and product decisions.
In 2013, one of the biggest priorities for the Acquia UX team was to revamp our customer research program to effectively involve our internal team members in our research projects. During the workshop, Ezra and I will cover dozens of techniques for getting stakeholder buy-in for research based on our learnings at Acquia. Read on to find out how we began.
We started with three key activities:
- Identifying the internal stakeholders’ biggest research questions
- Launching Super User Research Fridays (SURF)
- Conducting field studies with prospects and customers
Identifying the Team’s Biggest Research Questions
Our first task was talking with our primary internal stakeholders, anyone in the organization who was involved in decisions that influenced the product. They included Acquia’s product managers, engineers, sales, marketing, and business stakeholders.
We asked about their challenges and business priorities, as well as their biggest questions about customers. We also probed about the product features they knew the least about how users would interact with them. By talking to each team and collecting their feedback, we had a much better sense of where to focus the UX research. It also provided our stakeholders with a sense of ownership surrounding the goals of the research program.
To ensure stakeholders can observe sessions on a regular basis, we instituted the SURF program, which stands for “Super User Research Friday.” Every week, we recruited 2-3 prospects or customers to watch them work with our products. Having a consistent, predictable schedule for research ensured that stakeholders could easily participate in the process.
Rather than telling the teams why they should care about research, we focused on showing them. We emphasized how simple it would be to get involved in the studies with very little effort. At the start of the SURF program, we recruited a small group of research participants and asked stakeholders to attend just one session.
When team member observed a real customer using their product, there were inevitably a few “Ah-ha!” moments that literally caused their jaws to drop. Something they thought was a given turned out to be untrue and changed their perspective drastically. Each week, the teams learned new things about their products and the people who used them. After that, the idea of UX research began to sell itself.
Field Studies: On-Site Visits with Prospects and Customers
While research techniques such as user interviews and usability tests lead to valuable product insights, we’ve found that field studies are the most effective way for getting the internal team excited about research. With a field study we bring our team out to our customers’ offices to see how they work on a daily basis.
At Acquia the product and engineering teams have spent days sitting alongside developers. We watched how they interact with our Acquia Cloud hosting platform as they solve problems and deploy code. By seeing how customers interacted with our products in their daily work - and identifying pain points - the product team was energized to take those learning backs to their teams and make improvements to the products.
Want to learn more?
These are just a few of the strategies Ezra and I will share at Lean UX. Come join us in NYC this April to learn more!