Oct 04, 2012

Research @ Hot Studio: Getting Schooled with Pint-Sized Feedback

Wendy Owen's picture
Wendy Owen
Principal, Research & Strategy

As Principal of Research and Strategy, I oversee how Hot conducts research to answer tough questions for clients. We factor some kind of research into every problem our teams take on. At times we need to use deep ethnographic research, lightweight methods (like guerilla research), or user testing. Our StoryPlay team recently conducted user testing at the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco to get feedback from kids on Hot’s new storytelling web app. Afterwards, the team put together a charming video capturing their work, which I really enjoyed.


Our StoryPlay team, led by Josh Damon Williams, Hot’s Director of Product Strategy, used research to understand if the application appealed to kids. Did they like using it and, if so, why? Does it map to a child’s mental model of storytelling? We also used this opportunity to gain a better understanding of which features confused kids, and what other features kids wanted.



Kids have no qualms telling you clearly and directly what works for them and what doesn’t. As a mom, I know if something gets packed for lunch that isn’t up to par, I find out about it. With StoryPlay it’s no different. Sitting down with dozens of children to conduct user testing allowed the team to gather invaluable data. It was also a lot of fun, and rewarding, to see kids using an application Hot built from the ground up. Armed with this recent round of research, expect to see more from our StoryPlay team in the future—and more from our research team.

The StoryPlay team’s work reminded me of how important it is to empathize with the people using your tool or product, and how research helps a product team internalize people's needs and build something better. At Hot, this is essential to the way we approach products and strategy.

Done the right way, research can positively influence every part of a product, from design and functionality to the voice and tone of help articles and error messages. We also research to consider how a product resonates with consumers and the broader marketplace. This approach ensures that our results map to actions. Every activity, question, and answer will result in a data-driven plan that connects back to actively improving a product’s core value.

Enjoy our video about research on StoryPlay. And let us know how you’ve used research to learn more about something or make something you care about better.

More posts about research:
Rapid User Research at the California Academy of Sciences
Early Research Catches Worms

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