A space for the Gatsby design team to imagine, explore, and test our ideas about the people that use Gatsby, the people that don't, and the world in which we innovate
Curate an ever-growing pool of people our design team can learn from, making our user research efforts easier and more intentional
- Create a research program with a core group of users the Gatsby design team can have easy access to when research is needed
- Allow our team to explore emerging ideas that can eventually mature into more solid product initiatives
- Consistently evaluate our assumptions by employing research methods that challenge our implicit biases
The Struggle: Finding Our Users
Many product teams are aware of how difficult research truly is — choosing appropriate research methods, facilitating studies, making sense of data in the aftermath. In fact, our Gatsby design team found that the most challenging part of research was finding and scheduling users in the first place.
As the product design manager at Gatsby, I guided my team in the creation of Gatsby Design Labs to elevate the entire process of research and design, bringing joy and intention to ourselves and our users.
Phase I: The Why
Although Design Labs came from our need to more easily recruit user research participants, it's rooted in a deeper philosophy: that play drives innovation. We created language around this broader goal, focusing on evaluating emerging projects over validating predetermined results.
Phase II: The What
We then defined the components of Design Labs: learn, play, evaluate, and implement. Our user research program stands at the core, as all innovation stems from talking to the people who orbit the Gatsbyverse.
Phase III: The Who
Now that we'd established a foundation for Design Labs, it was time to gather our participants. We created a website with an explanation of the three crucial steps of the user research program: sign up, participate, and pay it forward.
We designed and developed a Design Labs landing page where interested users can indicate which types of studies they're interested in — surveys, user interviews, and usability tests. They can also indicate their experience with different Gatsby features.
When a new research opportunity comes up, we reach out to users whose availability and interests align. After each study we offer compensation-via-donation, where the participant can choose one of our STEM non-profits and Gatsby will donate on their behalf.
For our initial recruiting push, we hosted a livestream on Twitch where we introduced Design Labs and facilitated a live usability test on a new feature aimed toward content creators.
So far, Gatsby Design Labs has recruited around 200 participants, far surpassing our goal of 30. We've reached out to users for studies on a bi-weekly basis to test designs for roadmap releases, encouraging quick design iteration and experimentation.
Most notably, Design Labs helps prove design's return on investment, showing the power of intentional research and collaboration in the product discovery process.