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Foundational research to gather evergreen insights about users


As the company's first dedicated UX researcher, I was presented with the opportunity to gather foundational insights about our users; e.g.,  who they were, how they spent their days, how our product fit into their days, etc.  The data collected contributed significantly to the overall understanding of our users and went on to inform the creation of personas as well as direct-to-consumer marketing materials.


June 2020 - August 2020


Defined project goals; led all UX research efforts and synthesized findings for the product, design, and development teams; provided design recommendations based on user feedback. 


Semi-structured interviews, affinity grouping



Without a dedicated UX researcher on staff, the product team at Kaia Health was lacking in core knowledge about their target audience. As my first research initiative with the company, my goal was to uncover qualities about our users (i.e., their goals, behaviors, and motivations as it related both to our app and pain management in general) so that I could make strategic recommendations to inform product roadmaps.  


1. What are the daily habits and routines of Kaia users, and how does (or doesn't) Kaia fit into their schedules?

2. What value do users derive from the app? 

3. What pain or friction points are users currently experiencing? 



For the first step, I spoke with different members of the product and engineering teams (director of product, head of UX, UX designers, and product managers) to grasp their understanding of our users, and to check how much of that understanding was based on assumptions vs. research. Then I pressed further, collecting an assortment of questions that touched on user behaviors, motivations, and attitudes towards our app and pain management in general. I then prioritized the questions based on which ones I felt would have the biggest impact on product development. Since this particular research project aimed to gather foundational insights about our users, I set the project's research questions according to this scope, and saved other stakeholder questions for future research initiatives. 


Once I had my research questions, it was a matter of coming up with a handful of interview questions that would help me answer them. I like to build room into my interviews for spontaneous conversation (i.e., lots of followup questions), so I kept my list sparse with key questions. 

I wanted to speak to both active and less active users to get a range of perspectives. After identifying my full set of participant criteria, I drafted a study recruitment email to send. I worked with our CRM manager to deliver these interview invitations through Braze. 


After conducting the interviews, I hand-transcribed them all (a bonus to this method is that I am able to really dig into everything participants say (and don't say) because I am listening so intently) and created notes for each participant (this helps me further internalize and remember key insights). I then disaggregated the data and began to affinity group findings, pulling out emerging themes and patterns and making connections as I worked. In doing this, I was able to create several mini slide decks that touched upon integral aspects of the user experience, including how they came to learn of Kaia (and what sold them on it), how it fits into the daily contexts, and what/wasn't working for them with the app.



This research study proved groundbreaking for the product team as it was the first time we had connected with actual users (rather than testers on third-party testing sites) to learn of their struggles and delights, both with the app and with pain management in general. It gave the insights gathered the weight needed to carry them to the table when discussing future product development ideas. And as a side note, it was particularly rewarding for everyone in the team to hear unsolicited testimonials from users who attributed much of their pain relief to using our app. 


Because we derived a wealth of knowledge about the people who use our app (i.e., their daily habits, their pain management history, reasons they choose to use and not to use the app, other apps or activities that have us competing for their attention, etc.), I was able to create research-backed personas and empathy and journey maps. This research also proved incredibly useful for marketing and in-app messaging, much of which I helped write. 

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