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Scaling User Research at a Startup

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A User Research Toolkit for Startups

While a product designer by trade, I learned some valuable nuggets of information while scaling research at a series A health-tech startup. I created a some templates that worked for our team & could maybe work for you + yours as well! Enjoy.

Guide to the Toolkit

Why it Matters ❓

The pace of product development in a high-growth, low-resourced environment demands that we stay informed and coherent across various user research methodologies (reference diagram below). This tracker is not just an organizational tool; it's a strategic asset. It’s designed to consolidate generative, functionality, and evaluative research insights in one accessible location, preventing the common disconnects that can occur as teams and projects scale.
Research Toolkit.png

Purpose of Tracker 🎯

Capture Insights: Document findings from all research activities, ensuring that insights are preserved and accessible for future reference.
Avoid Redundancy: Check the tracker to ensure new research initiatives aren't duplicating past efforts, optimizing resources and time.
Inform Decisions: Use the repository to inform decision-making processes with historical data and trend analysis.

Usage Guidelines 📏

Record all user feedback, regardless of the research phase or methodology, into the tracker.
Regularly update and review the tracker to identify gaps or opportunities for new research.
Ensure that the tracker is visible and accessible to all relevant teams to facilitate cross-functional alignment.

Get Started 👇

Whether there is a formalized research function at your company or not, this meeting enables alignment for varied team members engaging in research tasks to synergize their insights. It's a direct nod to J's philosophy: breaking down silos to harness collective intelligence. We're not just sharing updates; we're weaving individual insights into a unified story that propels our product's mission forward efficiently and cohesively.
Cross-Pollination of Insights: Does someone in marketing have a pulse on emerging trends in customer inquiries? Is a sales associate piecing together recurring themes from customer dialogues? Is the customer experience team distilling actionable insights from support tickets or orchestrating a customer survey? Is a product manager trying to gain roadmap insights for the next quarter? The list goes on...
Synchronized Efforts: By bringing together this diverse group of informal researchers, the aim is to create a symbiotic ecosystem. This meeting isn't just about sharing updates; it’s about leveraging the collective intelligence of our teams to avoid duplicated efforts and amplify the impact of our findings.

Get Started 👇


Throughout my career, user personas have been a polarizing tool (i.e. whether they are truly useful), yet they undeniably serve as a catalyst for empathy, urging us to step into the lives of our users. This template, powered by AI-generated responses from ChatGPT, is designed to crystallize key personas for your product, offering a starting point for deeper user understanding.

What is this?

🎯 This comprehensive collection provides an in-depth look at the diverse range of individuals who interact with our products and services. By understanding their unique backgrounds, goals, and challenges, we can create more effective, targeted, and user-friendly solutions that cater to their specific needs.
💡 Each persona in this catalog represents a distinct audience segment and offers valuable insights into their communication preferences, technical proficiency, and brand affinities. By exploring these personas, our team can better empathize with our users and make informed decisions to improve their experience with our offerings. Note that these personas focus on users of the products vs buyers.
🌱 Dive into each subpage to explore the personas in detail, and let these profiles guide our product development, marketing, and support strategies.

Get Started 👇

Note: Chat GPT is a great resource for creating personas — I highly recommend you lean on it to flesh out detailed personas. For the prompt you can simply copy and paste the template & specify the user persona.

This template is your guide to democratizing research within your organization, empowering everyone to contribute insights that drive informed decision-making. Here are some best practices to keep in mind while use it:

Clear Objectives and Hypothesis 🎯: Start with a well-defined purpose or hypothesis, understand your target audience, and set a realistic timeline. Great research challenges our assumptions and tests our intuition.
Project Leadership 👩‍💼: Assign a project lead for formal customer discovery. This person ensures the project aligns with the initial brief, tying into wider initiatives at the team, division, and company levels. The lead is vital in aligning research with broader organizational strategies (e.g. OKRs etc).
Timeboxing ⏳: Set a clear 'end date' for your research initiative. This discipline is crucial for gathering insights, reflecting on them with the team, and enhancing future research with deeper insights.
Method Selection 🧐: Choose your research method based on available time, specific objectives, and the characteristics of your target user-base.
Initiative Tracking 📊: Add your project to the . This promotes awareness of ongoing initiatives and fosters collaborative research efforts.
Synthesis is Key 🔍: Synthesize your findings. Conducting a survey without analyzing and sharing the results leaves the research incomplete.

Get Started 👇

When conducting research, such as surveys, use the opportunity to ask participants if they're interested in being involved in future studies with your team. A positive response is your cue to include them in this evolving database. This repository is not just a list; it's a goldmine for future participant recruitment for various research activities, including studies, focus groups, and even exclusive slack groups like a Customer Advisory Board for testing new features.
Remember, this database is a dynamic asset, growing and adapting with each research initiative, enriching our understanding and engagement with our user community. 🌟

Get Started 👇

Special thanks to Allison Piper & Jana Epstein who helped flesh out the bones of this toolkit during our time together at Biobot.

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