UX Ops: Bringing in new technology

Project: The first project I was tasked with upon joining Frontline was to play a key role in bringing a remote research tool in-house. The objective was to extend the UX & Research team’s bandwidth by allowing for more research to happen with less effort through unmoderated research. Additionally, this tool could increase and diversify the research methodologies at their disposal.

Role: Product Evaluator, UserZoom Trainer, UserZoom Admin/Superuser


  • Evaluation – 4 weeks
  • Proof of concept – 3 weeks
  • Product eval to team onboarding: 4 months
  • Onboarding to first live study: 3 weeks. 
  • Product Training until their first live study: 5 weeks


Phase1: Finding the right tool

I started by searching for all the tools on the market and creating a grid to compare features and pricing between them. The products that met our criteria were moved to the next level which was asking for a demo from the salespeople. From there I looked at UI, features, and pricing to narrow the choices down to the best 3 for the team. Those 3 were vetted by our Senior Researcher and we moved forward with running a proof of concept test on all of them.

UserZoom ended up being the best choice for the team. It had the widest feature set including: live intercept capabilities, card sort, unmoderated and moderated testing with video and audio, highlight reels, nice looking reports and graphs, robust validation features, and a decent experience for the users. None of the tools were perfect but UserZoom was the best fit for us.

Phase 2: Training Design & Product Management

After selling the idea to the CPO we moved forward with bringing UserZoom in and setting a training plan. We decided to train the design team first as they would be the ones using it and would become our inside sales people in the product teams.

  • Our first training was an overview of the product by UserZoom and was very high level.
  • The second training refreshed an overview of the product and focused on how the team would be using it and how they could leverage the features and support to get more out of their research efforts. We talked about who we would be engaging with through the tool and how we’d be able to reach new audiences. The training finished with them setting up a basic test to get acclimated to the platform.
  • The next training involved the designers doing some homework. They had to set up their own study with a past or future research project using the products they work on. There were specific goals they had to hit (there must be a screener, there should be a usability task etc). This allowed the team to further explore the tool and it’s capabilities and got them in the mindset of using it for real work. I reviewed all the tests and gave feedback for improvements and then as a team we reviewed the results of these tests and talked about how to start analysis with the new tool.

Our next set of trainings covered the product management and leadership teams. We targeted these teams a little differently keeping things more high level.

  • Our first training focused on what the product could do for them and how it could reduce the amount of time to get research completed. We focused on the features that were relevant to product and talked about the methodologies available.
  • The second workshop focused more on execution. We zeroed in on survey and live intercept as the relevant methodologies to these groups and made sure they understood the possibilities open to them by partnering with the design team. We taught them how to set up and find studies on the platform, looked at the results, and gave them activity to make a study of their own.

Outcome: The team has been actively using UserZoom and almost all of the methodologies have been used on real products. We have been able to use the live intercept to gather opt-ins to form a research panel directly from our customer base. This will allow us to move faster in future research as recruitment is usually the biggest barrier to moving quickly.

The product trainings did what we wanted and when COVID hit the product managers remembered what they learned and contacted the research department to run live intercepts to get quick feedback on their sites. The design team has been able to leverage unmoderated tests at conferences to increase the amount of testing done while large groups of customers were gathered.

The design team has also been able to use the moderated part of the tool to pull highlight clips from interviews to back design decisions to persuade dissenting stakeholders.

I have acted as the team’s superuser and trainer. Each project has come through me to guide the designer or product manager to the correct methodology and execution of the study. I have also guided or performed analysis to help generate findings.

Prior to bringing in UserZoom the team did not have any way to do unmoderated studies. With this additional tool projects have been completed in less than half the time they were previously.

UserZoom worked with us to do an interview about building our research practice using their product. Check it out here.

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