Hello. I'm Laurel Natale.

I'm a UX Designer living in Philadelphia, PA.
I design human experiences on digital devices.

Go Gorilla with User Research

April 18, 2017

What do you do if the client has a tight budget and doesn’t want to invest in UX because they already “know” who their customer is? 

You go Gorilla UX. 

There is a way to gather user research that you can use to gain insight and create a persona based on real data that doesn’t cost a penny. How? By Kickstarting your project with data from crowdfunding profiles. 

Let’s do a mock case study to see how you can do this.

FurBrains, Inc has a new product that they want to do a website for. Its an interactive plush that tells bedtime stories. 

They want you to design the product website and they have given you a deck with who they are directing their marketing towards. They believe that they are selling to middle-class females, ages 25– 30. They want the site to have “Mom Appeal” and show lots of photographs of moms with their kids and have the content talk about how she can enrich their lives with Nox the Storytelling Owl.

Image from: https://avenue-g-kids.myshopify.com/

So no money to spend on proper user research and you want to be sure of the design direction for the new website. What do you do? Head on over to Kickstarter.com. A search for “interactive plush” gives you some results:

A few were unsuccessful but there is one that you notice that had 471 backers and the product is very similar to FurBrains’ storytelling owl. This seems like a good place to start, so you click on TROBO the Storytelling Robot.

Right away, the campaign page for TROBO gives a lot of information. You can see that the campaign was a success which is good news for NOX, the storytelling owl.

The page even includes a video of a mom and her kid in her lap, loving TROBO. It seems FurBrains might be on the right track after all.

That kid on mom’s lap is loving TROBO

At the top of the page however, is a little menu and this is where we can find a wealth of information about the people who invested in TROBO.

The menu shows the Campaign information and it also has some other links. The two we want are Comments and Community. A click on Community shows us some demographics on the people who invested in TROBO. We can see at a glance the top countries and even the top cities the investors are from.

If you click on the links, Orlando for example, you would expect to see all the backers from Orlando that invested in TROBO. You unfortunately do not, but instead get a view projects that are from Orlando. 

Ummm…. not what we are looking for.

But, if you go back to the page with the top cities and countries and scroll down a little, you get a nice collection of profiles of people who invested in TROBO.

TROBO investors! With pictures! 

And at the bottom of this wonderful collection of data is a blue button that you can click again and again and again.

Magic button for Crowdfunding User Research.

Let’s click again:

Second click, new profiles!

.. and again:

Third click, even MORE profiles!

Uh-oh! Hmm…. are you noticing what I am noticing? Three clicks that gave us 24 different profiles and out of that 24, 21 are men! It seems that our persona for Nox, the Storytelling Owl is not Mandy the Mom but Darren the Dad

Image from: https://west-of-3rd-apparel.myshopify.com/

Looks like we need some more data for our user research. This is where the Comments link comes in handy. A click on the Comments hyperlink and I can see a list of comments that people have left.

Hey, that last one looks familiar.. I remember him from the profiles I saw on the Community page.

Hello, person for my user research data!

A click on his name in the Comments brings us to his profile page where we can get lots more information such as other products he invested in, comments he left and there’s even an About section with a little biography that he filled out.

Now, for the persona, we can create a male who is a teacher and uses social media. That’s all based on real data. But we want to be super sure about the research, so let’s go back to Kickstarter and search again. This time we find another interactive plush but it’s not a robot.

Ubooly, another plush, interactive toy does a little more that TROBO does. This product uses a phone or tablet to tell stories and play games. This toy is not a robot but looks like a cute forest animal so this product may appeal to moms more than the robot. A quick look in the Community section gives us the answer:

First wave of Ubooly profiles
Second wave of Ubooly profiles.

Nope! The majority of investors are still men and now we have two products that we can pull user research from to accurately create a persona that will lead us in our design decisions and solutions. We also didn’t spend a dime on gathering user research. Kickstarter gave it to us for free.

That’s Gorilla UX. I hope you enjoyed this article and if you get a chance to use this technique, I would like to hear about it!