Listen, Look & Learn

The value of user research & a little peek into how and why we run usability testing at Pigzbe.

Dimitri Hadjichristou
6 min readSep 16, 2019

We are building an incredibly exciting product here at Pigzbe. However, as with any innovative product, there are always kinks that need fixing throughout product development.

That’s why we rely on user research to guide and refine our design process.

But why?

To explain the importance of user research in the design process, I’m going to use a fun analogy I came up with, in the form of the last two Avengers films

If you haven’t watched them where have you been? / Don’t try to pretend you’re too cool for superhero movies!

Infinity War & Endgame centres around Thanos, the main antagonist who observes a problem; the universe is massively overpopulated and resources are scarce. So, he pops on his product design hat and has a think, leading to a perfectly rationalised solution; kill off half the population… obviously, what a great idea, totally makes sense and is simple to scale 🤷‍♂️ except come product launch day, there’s a teeny, tiny problem:

The solution didn’t quite sit well with a certain group of target users.

WHAT?! You don’t like our product we made without consulting any of our target users AT ALL?!

Why didn’t target users like it? Well, Thanos didn’t do any user research; he didn’t talk to his users to see how they felt about his idea, he didn’t usability test to see if the solution works or could be designed better; overall he didn’t work with his customers to design a solution that worked best for them and unfortunately, if you don’t do this you end up with a pretty poor product that’s unusable or just downright unlikeable.

How we User Research at Pigzbe?

Fortunately, at Pigzbe we’re not into poor products; quite the opposite, we want to design products our customers love and want to use. Part of how we achieve this is by running bi-weekly usability tests with our customers.

Each usability test involves us selecting a part of the app to test, called a user journey; this can include sign up, child account creation, onboarding, password creation; the list is endless!

We break the user journey down into wireframes, building a prototype to test in Invision. The next step is finding participants; the rule of thumb for testing is to recruit maximum no more than 5.

On testing days we use lookback, a product that allows us to moderate sessions; record screens, the participants' microphones, and their faces. We do this so we can refer to and take more detailed notes later, allowing us to focus on the people we’re testing. Sessions with adults are usually moderated remotely and sessions with kids are run in person (don’t run remote sessions with young kids that are 10 y.o. or less, it doesn’t work).

During each session participants are asked to complete a series of tasks, these can range from “I’d like you to show me how you would sign up for the app?”, “Please show me how you would check your chores?” followed by lots of “Tell me about what you’re seeing here” and “Show me what you would do next”. The first rule of user testing is you never lead your participants or ask leading questions, it’s important you try to remain broad and unbiased with what you ask of them.

What happens after the sessions?

Post-testing, we rewatch the videos, take more notes and populate a usability matrix highlighting whether participants have successfully validated our assumptions or not.

One of our Pigzbe users trying the kids' app

A usability report deck is created and presented to the rest of the design and developers team, if things need changing we work together to improve it, discussing what’s feasible as a team. Changes are implemented, another prototype is built and tested again; rinse and repeat till our users are happy with the results!

What sort of findings have we made from testing?

So, what sort of findings and changes have we made from testing our designs? Here are a few of our highlights!

1. Chore cloud navigation

Our first insight focused on our chore cloud; the child opens up the chore cloud to find they have 5 to complete. Rather than doing them in order or one by one, we encourage them to navigate through the tasks, deciding which they’d like to do first.

We chose a swipe-based paginated design for this, signifying the number of chores with 5 dots at the bottom of the cloud. The child would review each task by swiping left or right, decide which they want to complete, and select ‘rain it’.

However, in our testing, we found only 1 of 5 children swiped through the chores while the remaining 4 rained each task one after the other.

To make this clearer, we put left and right buttons on the side of the clouds for when there are multiple chores. We tested this again and it worked!

When your testing participants successfully validate your assumptions

2. Onboarding

Our second insight was that kids much prefer visuals to text. Our initial onboarding design was text-heavy, rather than read our testers would look for a button to press, skipping the onboarding and not understand the purpose of the app or what Wollo is, etc…

We immediately changed our onboarding to a much simpler and more visually engaging design. This tested really well the second time around with kids able to explain the high-level concept of our product 🥳

Our onboarding redesign

3. Avatar Selection

Our third insight came from our app setup testing. Originally, at a point in our setup flow, we ask parents to select an avatar for their child. From the get-go, our participants responded to this really positively BUT they also expressed that they’d love to do this with their child or let their child do this.

Our original avatar selection in the parent section child setup flow

In this instance we could have stopped here, our participants completed the flow without any problems. Sure, they wanted their child to select their own avatar but the flow worked, why not just ignore this great qualitative feedback? Well, the product is for them to use and if they would like something they feel would make it better and is within our means we should facilitate it.

So we took the child avatar selection out of the parent setup and integrated it into the child section flow instead. The kids we tested it with loved and wanted a lot more options to select from, something we plan to work on soon!

Avatar selection in our kids app section

That’s all folks… for now

So that’s a little peek into why we frequently do user research/testing and how we do it at Pigzbe! I hope it gives you some new insights into why this step in the design process is incredibly important if you want to make a product your customers will love.

We want to continually share what goes on under the hood here and look forward to telling you about our next research study coming up end of this month where we’ll be doing a week-long study with our beta users!