UX product development: ‘It’s all about reading people’

What I learned working as a UX designer creating a mobile app. How did I apply my skills to developed a user centered strategy and designed meaningful experiences for a digital product focus on restaurants. These are the highlights of my journey working with software development in the nordic startup scene.

In early 2020 I joined a startup as a UX designer working with recruitment for the hospitality industry in Copenhagen, Denmark. We worked together to create an app to help managers in restaurants find the right people for their teams. When I joined Thanks Anna, the startup was a few months old and I was the first UX designer to join the core team. I had the opportunity to develop a UX strategy for the product and bring a user centered design approach to the project becoming the link between the users and the developers.


Creating a user experience strategy from scratch


When I started working in this project, there was no UX strategy or vision. The first step I took was to understand the rest of the team’s views on human centered design, how they saw the role of the user in the development of the product. I felt it was important for everybody to understand the value of the design process, be able to discuss the expectations and the how we were going to evaluate success. 

It was important for me to make the team know who we were designing for and that the product was going to evolve based on the needs of our users. It was then important to define the user personas and make sure the whole team were on board with it.


Building relationships with users and learning how to talk to the people I’m designing for


I’ve worked in restaurants before, both casual and fine dining, so I had a first hand understanding of the core users which helped to find effective ways to reach them and communicate with them. it’s this thing about “speaking the language”, not literally, but being able to get to them. We put a lot of work in creating meaningful connections with the users, learn about their work and their personally in detail. Look at them working, conducting obersavtions. 


The main considerations in evolving the UX of the product


 A lot of the UX ideas we had were A/B tested with the users, still, the most valuable features were developed with more intensive testing from users. We experimented to help keep us focused on the most important things to work on. We often test ideas on a small scale first to understand the impact before we spend the time and effort to roll them out to our over 130 million members.

At the end of the day, we believe A/B testing yields the most reliable information for us to understand what people want out of our service.


How to conduct research and analyze all the data I collected


In general, we use qualitative research methods to generate and refine product ideas and then A/B test those ideas with real customers to help decide what should be rolled out. The qualitative and quantitative methods complement each other and help validate ideas at different stages of design.

On the qualitative side we’re continually running surveys as well as focus groups and ethnographic research. In the latter case, these more in-depth conversations with people help us understand their wants, needs, and the motivations behind their behavior. The things we learn may not always be representative of the larger population, but they give us insights into new ideas we may want to test in the future.

And on the more quantitative side, we’re looking at trends in data to understand behavior in aggregate and find correlations. As a simple example, we may be able to say that overall people watch Netflix on TVs more than on phones. We have teams of analysts that are always looking for interesting patterns to better understand customer behavior and help us prioritize where to focus our UX improvements.


Transforming data into design, learning how to communicate with the development team