Company: CatylistRole: Sole Designer & ResearcherTimeline: Several monthsSkills: Usability tests, user interviews, field studies, prototypes, interface design
Context & Goals
Catylist is a commercial real estate data company, and most of the data is gathered by internal researchers.
I was assigned to completely redesign the app the researchers used to gather, process, and submit new data.
The researchers had a set of complex, standardized methods for the work they did. I needed to create an app tailored to those specific methods.
The app also needed to be scalable since the research team was going to keep growing.
Because of the complexity of their tasks, I knew I needed to work alongside the researchers and their managers to develop the app. I wanted to really dig into the workflows they used and let the design emerge out of that understanding.
I used many methods to accomplish this, including the following:
Performed remote usability tests and user interviews with the researchers. Usually, this involved them screen sharing and demonstrating how they performed specific tasks. I analyzed these interviews using Dovetail to pull out insights that I then applied to the designs. I would say this is the most important thing I did — many realizations came from this process that I leaned on heavily to create the UI.
Completed field studies, where I met with the researchers in person and observed them as they worked so that I could learn more about the process and get a better understanding of their day-to-day. The results were similar to the usability tests. We learned a lot about their process, particularly how they worked together.
Developed prototypes for major features, so I could run them by the research managers first before committing to a final design. This early feedback was invaluable and helped us course correct with several ideas we had that turned out to have small problems.
Created a dedicated Slack channel where researchers could drop feedback and suggestions at any time. I gathered and collated all those suggestions, and then we reviewed them monthly as a product team. Many of our product features came from this feed.
This was an iterative project that I added to and adjusted over a long period of time as we gathered input from the researchers and learned about their process. It adapted and evolved as needs arose and ideas were brought up.
The result was a highly efficient app tailored to the specific needs of its users. Managers reported that researcher productivity increased dramatically.
The product team received a lot of praise from the researchers themselves.
"This is amazing! It's so much better than any other research app I've used before."
The company was also able to scale the research team easily and quickly with almost no complications.
The app became the driving force behind much of the value we offered to our end customers.
For me, this project drove home the importance of involving users in the design process. Its success can be largely traced back to the insights I gathered through user research and participatory design.