What Happens When User Research Meets Database Development
Molly Norris Walker /
Use Cases, Product, Developer
Jan 30, 2020
Fast-growing products are not overnight successes contrary to what you often hear. At InfluxData, we’re on a mission to build a user base from scratch with our new flagship product InfluxDB Cloud. Every new user has to go through a signup flow to create their account. So it must go as smoothly as possible. User research and design experimentation are the way we’ll reach this goal, and the main ingredient in this recipe is you: the community member.
In this article I’ll explain some outcomes so far, why you would want to participate, what to expect, and how to get involved in user research. It’s the less-visible work of designing and iterating that will make our core time series platform the most useful and powerful to handle massive and increasing volumes of data.
Not only do we have a freshly minted product InfluxDB Cloud but we also had a newly expanded design team both in terms of headcount and strategic scope. Over the last few months, the design team has doubled from two to four people, and we widened our remit to include product design and user research. Previously, the team had been focused on building and implementing a front-end design system called Clockface. (It’s awesome by the way.)
A hybrid user research approach
We take a hybrid approach to user research, so at the outset of reviewing the 5-step signup flow, we looked at quantitative data to see where people were dropping off. The audit revealed a number of findings, and we scheduled some qualitative in-depth interviews with new Cloud users to see if we could better understand why drop-offs were happening and quickly get feedback on some of our early ideas for solutions.
Our users quickly set us straight, and we drove their insights into a redesign with an emphasis on the account creation page.
Here are a few of the design changes for the account creation page:
- Make it more apparent what this step is for and what comes next. We changed the headline to "Where do you want to store your data? No credit card required" instead of the more generic, less helpful "Get started with InfluxDB Cloud."
- Nobody cares what's included in the free plan when they sign up. As a new user, terms like buckets and query duration don't mean anything, and frankly, people don't care. New users want to get in there and see for themselves.
- It should always be super clear what the person needs to do to progress to the next screen. We made a more prominent checkbox to accept the terms of service with a tooltip callout that says, "Don't forget this step!" Because let's face it most people miss this and can't figure out what to do to get past the page.
After making these changes, we saw a decrease of 4.21% in exits for this page and a drop in the average time spent on page from 1:02 to 45 seconds. Thanks to community members spending time with us, more people are now able to get through the door to InfluxDB Cloud and join the party inside. (Ain’t no party like a time series data party.)
Why you should participate in user research
Sneak peek of new features
In user research sessions, you will see new design and functionality before anyone else. We will show you clickable prototypes or walk you through our Acceptance environment to review working features before they’re deployed. You will know what’s coming and have a chance to influence the direction of the future product.
Make the product better
We are often wrong. Our first guess on how to tackle a problem often misses the mark. We’re rooted in time series land, and we need outside perspective. As a user of InfluxDB, we hope you want to make the product better, and the less experience you have with it the better. When we show you a prototype, we’re not testing you; we’re testing us.
You might not know that InfluxData is famous for something other than our time series platform. But we are. We’re famous for our socks! They’re designed in Austin and made in the USA. For research participants, we offer these beautiful socks or a $25 Amazon Gift Card as our way of saying thank you.
<figcaption> We say ‘thank you’ to research participants with a $25 Amazon Gift Card or our famous socks (golden retriever not included)</figcaption>
What to expect in a research session
A user research session is a fancy term for a video call. Designers lead sessions, but we also have other InfluxData staff join, usually an engineer or product managers who are working on that feature. They want to hear directly from you, and might chime in to ask a more in-depth question.
Other aspects of a user session:
- 1 hour Zoom call to walk through new design prototypes or working code
- Casual, free-flowing conversation there are prepared questions in a discussion guide, but we'll follow where the conversation seems most interesting.
Sessions are in-depth and go for at least an hour. We don’t speak to large numbers of people, but focus on getting to know a few people well. We want to understand you and your challenges. If your schedule changes on the day, we can shorten or lengthen sessions as needed. We’ll always check with you at the beginning to see what your timing constraints are.
How to participate in user research
We reserve a block of days to do user research every month. We know our community is global, so we will always try to align with different time zones with sessions from 06:00-20:00 PST.
February sessions are now available from February 11-13. March sessions are now available from March 25-27.
Join the Research Google Group, and we’ll email you when there’s a new monthly round of research.
Hope to learn from you in a Zoom call soon.