Using UserTesting.com at Aspiration

Qualitative Research – 2019
Project Overview
I brought UserTesting.com to Aspiration because I saw a need for qualitative data in our design process. The goal was to create a culture where design decisions were informed by user feedback.

Contribution:
Championed the case for gathering qualitative feedback with UserTesting.com. Establish a process for testing and synthesis among the product designers. Facilitated a number of user tests.
Process
Most decisions were being made on assumptions about user behavior. Some decisions were being made based on quantitative data. Almost no decisions were made based on qualitative data. In fact, there was a general distrust for it. This was a problem. That’s why brought UserTesting to Aspiration. I also helped establish a process whereby designers could gather qualitative insight into the comprehension and usability of our products.

Start ups can be challenging. The rush to ship, grow, and raise money often leaves little time or resources for qualitative research. There had been attempts at doing user research projects but they never came to fruition. Many viewed them as too expensive and a waste of time. That’s why we landed on UserTesting.

ASIDE — A lot of UX purists don’t like UserTesting.com. “They are professional testers.” “They aren’t your customers.” I get it. Nothing beats in-person tests with your customers. But showing people a prototype and asking them to complete tasks never hurts. You will definitely discover areas of opportunity and usability flaws. You can also use it to quickly measure comprehension of a feature or landing page, for example. This is really valuable.

(BTW We did get a customer in a tests one time. Sorry, haters.)
How We Test
First we would create a prototype of the feature or flow that we wanted to test (❤️Figma). Then we would create a list of tasks or questions for the participants. After this, we would create a test, choose our demographic, and run a pilot test with only one participant. This was to see if our tasks and questions made sense. Finally, we would launch a full test with five users.
Example 1:
Invite a Friend Icon Comprehension Test
I was in charge of creating a button to launch our “Invite a Friend” feature. So chose an icon that looked like a person + money because referrals receive cash. This all made sense in my head, but the test revealed something different. I asked participants what they expected to see if they tapped the button. NONE said anything close to “Invite a Friend”. Most said things like, Account, Money Transfer, and Settings.
invite a friend user test prototype
Prototype of Dashboard with "Invite a Friend" icon
Synthesis
While watching the recordings, we would take notes on what we observed. Sometimes we would use post-it notes, other times we would take notes on the UserTesting.com dashboard. This was helpful because they were timestamped and could easily be exported as video clips.

If there were enough trends, we sort them into a positive and negative columns. Other times, we make a list of Key Observations. Then, we suggest possible solutions and Next Steps. These can be design ideas for implementation or further testing.
Taking notes in the UserTesting.com dashboard
Report Structure
I wanted the reports to be accessible for everyone in the company. So I created a simple, easy-to-read format in Google Docs. You can easily see the type of test, prototype, key observations, next steps, and also the notes for each participant.
Report of the findings of the "Invite a Friend" user test
Example 2:
Text / Email Verification Usability Test
This test was looking to see if participants could successfully complete our verification flow. We also tested to see if they would click the right links if they experienced errors. All of the participants were able to complete it and find solutions to errors in the interface. This interface was quite usable.
SMS and Email Verification Prototype
Prototype of  "SMS/Email Verification" flow
Taking notes in the UserTesting.com dashboard
Report of the findings of the "SMS/Email Verification" user test
Implementation & Outcome
For the first time, we were gathering qualitative feedback and implementing it into our design process. This was a new way of doing things at Aspiration. It created a positive cultural shift and paved the way for larger scale research projects. UserTesting.com was utilized by product designers, product managers, and even the email marketing team. It added an extra layer of valuable insight to our work.

Most importantly, it helped us design better experiences for our customers.

Thank you Jess Brown, Chris Meyer, and Randy Jones for all of your support in making this happen.