Maybe you’ve been thinking about hiring a UX firm to help you sort out a sticky issue you’re facing with your product. Or maybe you aren’t meeting your adoption goals, and you think optimizing usability might be a magic bullet. After all, you’re keenly aware that you must be user centric in today’s competitive marketplace. But you have some reservations. You might be thinking: “We already have designers. What am I paying them for if they can’t make my product usable and attractive to customers?” Or maybe you’re concerned that an outside firm might take over and impose their ideas onto your product. It’s your product and your vision, not theirs, right?
Here’s the thing: We can’t speak for every firm out there, but the truth is, if you’re thinking about hiring a typical UX company, your fears are probably grounded in some truth. A lot of people talk about being user-centric, but frankly, we don’t think that word means what they think it means.
While we do care deeply about the user’s experience, we aren’t simply a UX company. We’re an adoption company. Because let’s face it -- usability is just table stakes in the modern landscape. And if you don’t understand why someone would use your product, it’s next to impossible to understand how to help them succeed with it. So we look at things differently. We’re laser focused on the single most important element of your success: adoption. Everything we do serves that goal.
And to that end, we’re not here to replace or supplant your team or your ideas. We want to help you refine your vision. We want your designers to have the freedom to work smarter, not harder. When we partner with product teams, we draw on our 10+ years of experience to make sure that everyone is able to do their best work, by making sure they’re doing the right work. And yes, you guessed it -- the right work means whatever will drive adoption and engagement of your product. Full stop.
We get it because we’ve been there: Even the most rock star designer, without an understanding of why people would hire the product, is likely to miss the mark. The design might be beautiful - usable even - but that doesn't mean it’s adoption focused. But there’s an art (and a science!) to sussing out the reasons that people would flock to your product and keep using it. And that’s where we come in.
That’s what the team at Uptick, an app that helps managers create valuable performance reviews, discovered when we recently helped them better understand why and how users would adopt their product. When we first spoke with co-founder Chris Zaugg, he initially thought what most people think -- they needed a little help with usability design. But after beginning our partnership, he came to understand the importance of being truly adoption focused, and the ways we could complement his team’s efforts to help them achieve their goals.
I would say our felt need when we hired them was design,” he says. “ But our real need was probably to get a little more focused in our strategy and tactics. And they helped us do that. … [Knurture told us] ‘Look, this will be a completely failed venture if we don't get people to adopt the product. And in order to get them to adopt the product we have to strategically think through all the points of the product that are the most important to people, and figure out how do we get them more engaged in those parts as opposed to less engaged.’ They've really put the user -- the user's brain -- on the table.
Nailing the Job, Together
You’re probably wondering just how we’re able to get into your customers’ heads and help you point your efforts in the right direction. For starters, we work closely with teams to uncover the job people would hire the product to do. We use a special type of user story mapping we call job desirability mapping. This process helps you see the product in a different light by understanding the job they would hire it to do. It allows your team to become aligned around a clear purpose: creating a product that people will adopt.
Although he wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into it, after completing the process with us, Chris became a believer.
What [the story mapping process] did was, it allowed us to prioritize, particularly for our initial product launch,” he says. “ It allowed us to prioritize because as we talked through it we realized ‘This is what users will actually do.’ And these will be the places where they will get bounced out of the app if we don't make it easy for them and understandable.
Sim Lab Sprints
Sim Lab sprints are one of the cornerstones of our adoption-centric approach when we partner up with product teams. In a nutshell, these sprints involve a lightning fast cycle of simulation, validation, and iteration. First we create lifelike prototypes -- without code -- for our user simulations. That allows us to gather real honest reactions and rapidly iterate based on the intel we learn. Our unique SLOW interview process digs deep and uncovers moments that could negatively impact adoption of your product. We find areas where users are experiencing SLOW forces -- struggles, lapses, obstacles, and workarounds, and in the process unearth areas where you could provide users with real value.
As we tweak the prototypes in successive iterations, we’re simultaneously helping to refine the design constraints that will help increase adoption and engagement. In other words, we’re helping your designers know that they’re working on the right thing. Bottom line, it’s about a lot more than just giving you some pretty screens.
As Chris put it after sitting in on some simulations and observing SLOW interviews in action:
It’s a really good process. I'm really glad [Knurture] does it that way. It tends to objectify some very subjective things. Our company is one like many probably, where people like to speak in superlatives or hyperbole ... they say 'ALL users want to do this' and the reason you say that is because YOU want to do that. But the truth is, I don't care what you want; I don't care what I want; I only care what users want. Because that's why we're building the product, for them not for us.
When we work with your team, we look at it as a true partnership -- we’re there with you every step of they way, working tirelessly to help you find the best strategies to increase adoption of your product and meet your goals. We understand that at the end of the day, it’s only natural that team members can become focused on their own discrete part of the work. And it takes someone with real adoption focused expertise to help everyone step back, look at the bigger picture, and achieve alignment around a common purpose. That’s what we’re there to help you do.
Once again, Chris saw the value in the adoption focus Knurture brought to his team: “... Eventually people get into the tech and back end and front end and all that stuff and you forget human beings are on the other end of this. And if you want to make money from those people you've got to serve their needs and serve them well. And [Knurture] was great at keeping that in the forefront for us.”