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Internal tools and methods for gaining empathy

Case study

The more we stay in the realm of Product design, the more we understand the importance of intuition and gut feelings. They come from experience and there is nothing wrong with that. We start understanding the sequences and consequences behind the decisions we make as designers. But intuition is not enough, we are humans, and we do things differently, the very small portion of our DNA containing the difference is strong enough to make us that way. From a product experience point of view, we need input and proof that those decisions are heading in the right direction.

Through this case study blog post I'll guide you through the internal tools and methods you can use, to feed your ideas with qualitative and quantitative backup. You will be able to generate directional motives which will guide you through your design process and help answer any question.

Start with the problem

Being paired with a Product Manager on an initiative is a common practice in Miro. It's like a small start-up, in a start-up. We do everything together to push things forward. Once the area of work is clear, we can begin digging into the problem space to define how and where we can start.

Unstructured problem space

We take multiple problems and try to arrange and group them in a way that makes sense from experience, implementation, and investment points of view. Generating the first problem definition is serving us as a stepping stone in the problem area.

Structured problem space

Problem space

Enterprise admins do not have enough management and control features over applications in their organization.

Problem definition (#)

Organization and team admins lack app management controls that are needed for secure app installation and usage.

How do you start designing from those two statements? Going blindly in the admin space and providing some basic controls for app management, doesn't give confidence to us, the stakeholders, and the users that we are aiming for the right things. We need to gain some empathy for our admins, by creating a persona.

Define the persona

Gaining empathy will give us more insights into the emotional and practical spectrum of what the daily lives of admins are. Here is a persona definition:

A persona is a fictional character that creates reliable and realistic representations of your key audience segments for reference. A persona is a combination of qualitative and quantitative user research and analytics.

But how do you build that persona? In the same way as with everything unknown, we start asking questions. You see the screenshot below of the questions that I generated only regarding the admins in the context of app management.

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Help Center

On the general questions, I always advise going through the Help Center of your product. The external documentation that serves as a conversational tool between the product and the users is a great resource for gaining product and user knowledge. You start getting into the shoes of the people using the product. They will have access to the same information before going to contact someone from your Customer Support team.

Go through the tables

Once the general questions are toggled, we can go to the qualitative unknowns. In Miro, that's quite easy. Collaboration with a Product Analyst may quickly draw up a Looker table with all relevant data. Looker is a Business Intelligence and Data Analytics Platform. With it, we start to understand the scale at which we are supposed to work. Knowing that certain organization may have more than 2000 teams and 10000 accounts put your design and controls in a different direction. We should look for scalable controls which allow proper selection, sorting, and filtration to be accessible.

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Connect with the CSM

We have covered the qualitative part of your work. Now we would need some quantitative data to make our persona clear and concise to what an admin goes through and looks for.

Contacting admins from anyone working on Enterprise knows is a time-consuming task. Contacting admins with a focus on app management is even more. And as product teams try to move faster in the quarter, we came up with the idea to contact admins and Customer Success Managers (CSM) to create a scalable portfolio of responses that we would use to support our solutions.

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The formula for getting the right CSMs was easy. Get the OrgID from Looker and check to which CSM it goes by using Salesforce. We ended up doing 20 interviews within a week.

Prototype, Plan & Zoom

We used static prototypes in Figma, with Calendly to make the scheduling and Zoom to conduct the sessions. The sessions were with a guiding agenda which allowed us to answer the questions we need.

Small tip: Always drop one long message explaining what exactly you are going to do, with the Calendly link invitation in it.

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What we concluded after the sessions were two more motives security and clarity. Both important and informative enough to guide us through our design decisions.

Conclude

Using the internal tools and methods for gaining empathy for your audience allows for a better conversation with them. You are designing with direction. You are communicating with confidence. You are keeping the motives of the design relevant.