Ongoing UX Research Program Case Study:

More User Insights for More Product Teams: Building a Continuous UX Research Cycle for an Enterprise Software Company

Marketade’s nimble recurring UX research program enabled a scientific research software company to improve its products’ core features while investigating potential innovations and new use cases.

Challenge: Complex software products with specialized audiences need testing beyond internal research capacity

A scientific information leader for over 100 years has evolved to become a top developer of enterprise software for pharma and biotech companies. With about 1,500 employees, this organization sells over 10 software products used by innovation-focused scientists, patent attorneys, and other corporate and academic researchers.

While the company’s products lead the scientific research market, the product division is committed to finding new ways to deliver user value. In addition to staying ahead of direct competitors in the STEM software sector, the team knows that users’ expectations are influenced by Google products and other widely used search tools. 

As the company’s platforms and user bases expand, multiple product teams seek more information about the “why” behind users’ behavior. These teams recognize that frequent UX testing can maintain high standards and uncover potential growth areas. However, the company’s internal UX research capabilities could not meet the division’s demand for qualitative insights.

The company needed a user research partner that could:

  • Provide insights to guide a user-centric strategy without delaying product development and release schedules.
  • Balance recurring usability-focused studies with more exploratory research on prototypes, early-stage ideas, and new markets.
  • Reliably find and schedule participants who qualify as experts in their STEM fields and particular industry sectors.
  • Conduct interviews involving advanced scientific subject matter while remaining focused on the project’s UX goals.

Action: Establish and grow a recurring research program that fits the product division’s goals and schedule

Once engaged by the organization, Marketade assigned 2 experienced researchers, Kristy Knabe and Meredith Meisetschlaeger, to lead the studies and operations with support from other Marketade team members. Streamlining prior research protocols at the company, we set up and refined an efficient template for research projects, proceeding on a 4- to 6-week cycle. A project moves through the following phases:

  • Kickoff: Marketade hosts an informal meeting to discuss stakeholder questions for the study. What do they want to learn? What are the target personas and use cases?
  • Product preview: We meet with designers and developers for a walkthrough of the prototype or live feature so that we can write prompts and tasks.
  • Research plan and discussion guide: Our researchers outline the strategy for the study, including overall goals and target participant profiles, and write a guide for session facilitation. We submit these deliverables to stakeholders for quick reviews, then revise as necessary.
  • UX research sessions: While one Marketade researcher moderates the interview session in Zoom, the other manages the “control room” in WebEx. This method allows stakeholders to watch the user’s session in real time and privately ask questions, which the supporting researcher relays to the moderating researcher. After each session, Marketade researchers host a 15-minute debrief with the observation team to discuss the most salient findings from the individual session as well as any patterns that may be emerging from the study.
  • Readout and delivery: Marketade documents key findings, complete with edited clip reels, and proposes solutions and opportunities in a slide deck. During virtual readouts, Kristy and Meredith present the study outcomes, answer any questions that the client team may have, and discuss future research projects inspired by the current findings. We share our report and remain available to address any follow-up questions or concerns.

The following characteristics of this engagement have helped ensure a productive and illuminating collaboration.

  • Ongoing Communication: Marketade’s UX Strategist Kristy Knabe chats with a client point of contact daily through Microsoft Teams. They also meet 2 times a week to discuss current and future projects, so that Marketade can plan and allocate resources on the client’s desired schedule.
  • Faster Targeted Recruiting: One of the client’s vendors struggled to recruit qualified users for testing sessions. Marketade can find and schedule expert participants quickly and efficiently by adroitly sourcing participants from LinkedIn and panels. We rigorously screen recruits through surveys and brief phone interviews.
  • Digestible Slide Deck Deliverables: In the past, research staff shared findings with product teams through a traditional report template; deliverables were time-consuming to produce and onerous to read and internalize. With the client’s blessing, Marketade shifted to a lightweight, slide deck-based findings report. Embedded clip reels from interviews support findings in an engaging and accessible way.

Result: The research program delivers observation-backed insights more frequently and dependably to inform strategic directions

Now in its third year, Marketede’s research program has integrated so closely with the company’s product teams that we can consistently meet their deadlines and needs. In 2023, we completed 17 studies on 5 different products — a 54% increase from the 11 studies we completed in 2022. Our lean project template has allowed us to deliver insights on a reliable basis.

Stakeholders can count on Marketade’s track record of completing studies on timelines that fit development and release schedules. Instead of assuming that they do not have time for research, departments are more open than ever to testing features and ideas. Because Marketade opted for lighter reporting, we can conduct research quickly and provide findings and recommendations that are comparatively simple to understand and implement. 

Our research has made it possible for product teams to keep their finger on the pulse of what users want. In the words of lead researcher Kristy Knabe, Marketade’s research program serves as “users’ voice at the table” within the company. In some cases, teams revise their business goals after absorbing patterns in users’ goals and needs as identified during Marketade’s readouts.

Usability-focused research cycles have not only uncovered friction points, but also revealed reactions and trends that have shaped product strategy and suggested ideas for development. Marketade’s wide range of research studies have shed light on the entire ecosystem of product use, including support resources and users’ internal training procedures. On the more experimental track, our research has given the organization timely intelligence on cutting-edge opportunities related to AI and exciting sectors of scientific research. 

As this partnership continues to flourish, the recurring program proves that a company does not need to prioritize one research track at the expense of another. With a nimble approach, dedicated researchers, and a collaborative mentality, we can probe the most common tasks and industries while exploring innovative possibilities.

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