99designs is an online global creative platform where you can get everything from logos to websites to videos and animations. Over the course of the past 11 years, they’ve connected more than one million talented freelance designers with clients looking for creative work. Their mission is to champion creativity and bring opportunities to people around the world.
Tristan tells us about the 99designs team’s approach to usability testing – and how it saved the life of one small, animated dinosaur.
Who is involved in UX and what is the process like?
We have a UX Design team spread across our Melbourne and Oakland offices. We collaborate weekly through video calls, design critiques, prototyping feedback, and face-to-face meetings. The process varies depending on the project, but we have a very strong focus on understanding our users and designing a great experience for them.
When did you start conducting usability testing? What impact has it had?
We’ve always implemented usability testing in our design process, with the type depending on the needs of the project. Sometimes we invite people into the office for in-depth moderated sessions, while other times we conduct tests remotely (both moderated and unmoderated), which has proven to be really effective. It helps us understand pain points in the existing user flow as well as test out new concepts.
When in the design process do you conduct usability testing?
We usually test at several stages in the process. In the beginning, we test to identify needs and key pain points to help inform our design work. As our work develops, we conduct further usability testing to see if we are on the right track with our solution or if we need to continue to iterate and test again.
How do you use Userfeel as part of your process?
We work on a product with a global audience, and it can be difficult to run usability testing with people from all around the world. Userfeel has been a great tool for us to test things remotely without the challenges of scheduling. It has also been really useful for us to quickly find participants who are new to our product without engaging a third-party recruiter in the process.
When we set up a new study on Userfeel, we either upload a live page from our site or a simple prototype to test, which is really effective for quick feedback.
Could you share any examples of particularly surprising or useful usability test findings?
Every time we run usability testing there is something unexpected that comes up! Often it’s something that felt simple and straightforward to us but turned out to to be not as intuitive as we thought.
One surprising thing that we’ve learned is just how much love people have for a little dinosaur animation that we feature on our site, despite us wanting to change it up. We’re lucky we learned how much joy it brings people because we almost removed it! :)
How do you communicate and document UX research results?
We always involve our immediate product development team in the process and talk through what we are learning on a regular basis. We also share our results widely with the whole company, either in presentations or in more detailed write-ups on Confluence where people can read and comment. We are a relatively small company, so there is always a lot of engagement!
What advice would you give to someone just getting started in UX research?
Don’t take challenging feedback to heart! Instead, try to pick up on key themes rather than single comments, and feed it back into the goals of your project.