Startups: The Value of Research

Is research worth it? As a funded company, your survival depends on two things: growth and speed. So we understand why it can be hard to slow down to conduct research on a product you already know is fantastic. We’re here to tell you that research will help you to fail faster and smarter in your design loop while also helping you uncover how to get the word out about your product to the right people.

Let’s begin with the basics of research.

What are customer or user insights?

“Customer insight” is a fancy term for communicating and understanding your customer or user. We use insights to broaden our understanding of users’ or customers’ feelings and behaviors around a topic, product, or category. Customer insights are about learning what drives them, what influences them, and what underlying attitudes and beliefs influence how they see the world.

How does this translate to tech?

Insights have long been used in packaged goods to shape how the product is developed, marketed, and sold. More recently, insights have made their way into technology products through User Research (also called UX Research) and User Testing. We can apply insights to technology through similar methodologies and principles -- seeking to understand our users feelings and behaviors around a topic, product, or category. User testing can be done at any stage of product development, but we find it especially valuable in the “fuzzy front” when a new need is being identified or as validation and targeting after the product has been developed.

We worked with Slack to do User Research on a new product called Workflow Builder. The product was already built and developed, but we needed to better understand who would use this product and in what situations they would want to use it. We used focus groups, user data, and business analytics to improve the onboarding and adoption experience, ultimately resulting in user adoption that far exceeded initial goals.

Ways to quickly and cheaply gather insights:

1. Communicate Clear, Credible and Consistent Information. Being a small business this year has been challenging to say the least. Our CEO has made it his priority to keep us updated on reliable COVID-19 information and how it affects our company.

The CDC has a Coronavirus website dedicated to providing factual, updated information on the crisis. We suggest giving business updates at least once a month via video or voice, but more frequent updates through Slack or email can keep the communication lines open.


2. Provide Opportunities For Connection. It can be tough for people to feel a sense of connection and empathy while apart. Our team set daily 15 minute huddles to check in during quarantine. These huddles were a chance for our team to bounce off ideas, express emotions, and share thoughts. We also used them to align on priorities and collaborate for quick action.

Many post-pandemic surveys have shown employees want to be heard and accommodated right now. During COVID-19 pandemic, here's what employees want from leadership.

3. Emphasize Employee Wellness. It can be difficult to separate work from personal life when WFH full-time. In addition to hard stops at the end of the work day, our team encouraged breaks throughout the day and ‘mental health days’ when needed most.

According to a recent Gallop poll, only 45% of employees surveyed feel their well being is of concern to their employer. For larger teams, creating an internal site for resources, feedback and FAQs can go a long way during a such a turbulent year.

4. Continue Social Connections. Like    many teams, we had regularly scheduled Zoom happy hours and remote team building activities (virtual trivia, best Zoom background competitions, etc). We continue to iterate on these to keep morale high and forge new connections at work.

Prior to the pandemic, Glassdoor found that 75% of candidates considered an employer’s mission, culture and brand even before applying for a job. Fun ideas for virtual celebrations can be an easy way to keep the energy up.

5. Lead with your values. One of our core values - resilience - really got put to the test this year. When times got challenging, our team focused on bringing this value to life. The results can be incredible when a whole team is working with the same values in mind.

Many employees are now in situations where they are working from home while also homeschooling kids, or balancing other priorities during this stressful time. Be sympathetic to your employees changing situations and find ways to apply company values in a personal way.

As companies continue to figure out plans for the remainder of the year into 2021, it’s essential to keep your employees in the loop and rallied around your brand purpose and values.

For creative ideas on keeping company culture positive while remote, reach out to us at