Being Redtree Robotics’s Joan and Peggy (from Mad Men) was definitely an exciting way to transition into product design! I took on designer and customer success roles in this early-stage startup to engage technical professionals and makers in Redtree’s mobile robotics system.
The overarching objectives for our team were to ensure that the fledgling company could execute on manufacturing at scale and obtain its next stage of fundraising. To achieve these goals I set out to qualify and quantify product direction and market fit. The rest of this page describes the product and user research work I have carried out.
1. I started off by scoping out the current product ecosystem. This step included heuristic evaluations of the company’s products and processes, and informal research into its stakeholders and current product/market fit.
2. Our team conducted an ideation session around robotics concepts and consumer uses. Afterwards, I completed a card sorting exercise to organize these ideas. I analyzed all of the results and defined some product directions.
3. Based on these outcomes, I prepared a formal focus group agenda to retrieve more quantitative feedback that can shape clear and measurable customer and user requirements.
Understand the Product Ecosystem
To understand a product system well from the beginning, I normally generate a giant list of questions I have about the business, the products, the market fit, and the customers. My intention is not necessarily have every question answered, but to be prepared to ask the right questions at the right time, and to know where to find the answers.
Attached here are various inquiries specific to the Redtree Robotics’s system. I found the answers by digging through available documentation and data, having informal chats with makers at events, and meeting with the founders many times.
This information enabled me to:
► Envision system workflows
► Grasp current user interactions, feedback, and pain points
► Recognize stakeholders and their goals, responsibilities, and relationships to the business
► Customize points of focus for design improvements
I then used these analyses to:
► Build accurate journey maps
► Organize effective information architecture
► Conduct heuristic evaluations
We used all the above information to allocate effort appropriately, make the changes, and evaluate the end results accurately. Sharing the process and results with the team is an great way for us to reflect on the great work we’ve done, and to focus on ideas that matter to our customers as we move forward together.
One of Redtree’s business mentors put together a session to explore the uses of a robotic brain. Ideation sessions are informal brainstorming meetings with a purpose to generate as many ideas as possible without judgement. The session was great for producing first impression feedback from neutral parties, and confirming the potential value of Redtree’s vision.
Having all these ideas written on post-its was fantastic as a segue into some card sorting work. One of the founders and I performed this exercise and used the results to organize the business roadmap.
Here below is the newsletter that summarized the meeting, the card sorting exercise, and the key takeaways.
With a clearer sense of product position and fit, it was time to hammer out some finer details about our customers and their needs. We decided to conduct a focus group with avid makers, our target demographic for the consumer-facing side of the business.
The following is the detailed focus group agenda and notes. Similar to any well-run meeting, the purpose of this guide was to keep in mind of the meeting’s objectives and manage the conversation accordingly. Having this document available to the facilitator also helps them to approach topics from different directions and keep the meeting focused on the specific topics at hand.
When I created this plan, I also considered the principles of ethics and bias that I learned from my academic experience in research involving human subjects. I tried to ensure that there were no leading questions, and more importantly, that the subjects felt safe and comfortable responding in their own manner.