Olapic Evaluative Research & Design Strategy

My ROLE: UX RESEARCHER & STRATEGIST, UX/UI DESIGN SUPPORT

Project overview

Methods: Qualitative interviews, concept testing, beta testing, brainstorming
Skills: Interviewing, synthesizing, facilitating, design critique
Deliverables: Designs, sketches, workflows
Tools: Post-its, Zoom, Google Suite, Sketch, Mosaiq (Wordpress)


Opportunity

Olapic is a complex B2B platform that aggregates user-generated, influencer-generated and brand-generated content (photos, videos) into one repository. By engaging and working with under-generated content, brand visual content costs decrease and efficiency of optimizing visual content for every, unique e-commerce touch point increases.

The account managers at Olapic were regularly pulling specialized reports for clients, which was a very manual and time-consuming activity for them. More often than not, these reports would be pulled on weekly or monthly basis and included the same information. These requests would cause a burden for the account managers, taking away time better spent on other activities.

On the flip side, the clients would have to request the different reports and wait, patiently, as account managers put something together. Oftentimes, the clients needed the reports "yesterday" and would get frustrated having to wait. Additionally, clients and account managers would engage in a lot of back-and-forth emailing with regards to feedback, changes or any further information needed.


Strategy

With this opportunity in mind, I decided to take several different steps to better understand the problem. I spoke with account managers to understand their side of the problem and what they thought of the client's side of the problem. After speaking with internal stakeholders, I felt comfortable creating some concepts to put in front of clients in order to test the validity of our assumptions. Showing them these concepts came after a more generative, thirty minute conversation on what they need from and how they envisioned solving this problem. 

With feedback, we were able to go back to the drawing board and synthesize the information. We iterated on the concepts and ideas, creating more viable prototypes with which I conducted usability testing. 

We currently are on our fourth iteration (and are looking forward to the fifth, sixth, eightieth version).


My Process

1. Identify problems and plan
Who was involved: me, account managers, product manager, developers, designer

- The analytics team (who was in charge of reporting), approached me with a problem they had been hearing from account managers: pulling regular reports for clients was becoming a huge burden
- My first step was to pull in internal stakeholders to speak with them about their process and pain points and also understand what they thought of the client's pain points and process with regards to reporting
- I took this information and had a meeting with the product development team in charge of this area where we discussed the research plan, including objectives, goals and what we wanted to learn from speaking to customers

2. Internal concept testing
Who was involved: me, account managers, product manager, developers, designer

- Once we conducted the initial internal interviews with account managers, I held a design studio in which the developers, product manager and designer sketched out some ideas and concepts
       - The main theme/trend we heard internally was the need for users to schedule their own automatic email reports
       - We picked our top two ideas by voting using colored stickers. Before voting, I reviewed our social media personas (who were the main users of this feature) and we voted through their mindset/mental model
- We shared these concepts and ideas with account managers, iterating and making a few changes before placing them in front of customers

3. Client facing interviews and concept testing
Who was involved: me, product manager, developers, designer
- Once we sketched some ideas, I began the process of reaching out to clients through account managers. I scheduled all remote sessions
       - We specifically targeted social media managers in the ecommerce space who were logging into the platform daily (our persona who would benefit from this problem being solved)
       - I conducted fifteen interviews, covering both our US and European market

- I conducted the 45-minute interviews with customers, starting out with a general conversation on how they think about regular reports, the kind of information they need, how they share the reports and how the current process was/wasn't working. For the last fifteen minutes, I shared the concepts we had asking for general feedback

- After holding all of those sessions, we learned that users really liked the concept of scheduled email reports and brought it up several times without being prompted. We also realized our initial report designs were not helpful to our customers as they did not feel "actionable enough" and users were "unsure how to use them"

- With these insights, I created detailed research summaries that highlighted patterns and trends I had found across the research and we went back to the drawing board

4. Concept testing round two
Who was involved: me, product manager, developers, designer

- With the feedback and insights we gathered from the previous interviews, we were able to rework our ideas and concepts into sketches better aligned with the user's mental model in how their view email reporting
    - I ran another design studio based on the information we had learned

- We were able to go back to the same clients and test our new designs and ideas, which they found much more helpful and in-depth

5. Beta testing
Who was involved: me, product manager, developers, designer, product marketing

- We employed around ten clients to be part of the beta program for scheduled email reporting, where they were allowed early access to the feature with the promise of giving us feedback. They received weekly and monthly reports for a month when I reached back out to the client to have another 45-minute session with them, discussing what was going well, what wasn't working, what was missing and any improvements they had in mind.


Deliverables

Who was involved: me, designers, product managers

Deliverables included: 
- Sketches
- Workflows
- Designs


SOCIALIZATION

- I used different brainstorming workshops and design studios to help familiarize the team with the research and how it could apply to different designs
- I shared all of the research in a google docs folder as well as Mosaiq


Next Steps

We have released the feature to all of our clients and have seen a large uptick in usage since the release as clients stopped relying on account managers to complete these reporting tasks.


Postscript

Joys
- Engaging the product team with account managers and empathizing with their issues
- Seeing a research project from end-to-end (although there is no true end)
- Iterating on ideas and concepts (failing quickly)
- Creating something new based off of customer feedback

Challenges
- Working with a remote development team, especially with design studios and synthesis workshops
- Realizing the account manager's feedback on the client's problems was biased
- The team felt slightly demoralized after receiving "negative" feedback

Lessons
- Give teams a pep talk before interviews so they don't take any feedback personally
- Leave some extra time at the end of interviews for others to ask questions
- Don't rely too much on internal stakeholders knowledge/opinions

Nikki AndersonComment