Oct 26, 2022

Continuous Research: When Non-Researchers Take the Lead

Showmax Engineer
Showmax Engineer
UX researchProduct management
Continuous Research: When Non-Researchers Take the Lead

Earlier this year, Šimon Koudelka, Showmax Product Manager, presented our approach to continuous research at the WebExpo conference. For a while now, continuous research has been done at Showmax by non-researchers – product managers and designers – who are helping the regular UX research team by collecting some insights on their own. This alternative approach, though it might seem risky or inadequate, helps us develop our apps faster and respond quickly to customers’ needs, act on hiccups in the user journey, and more.

The talk that you can watch in the video below introduces examples of how we collect insights, create opportunity maps, and why we think it’s important to involve developers in the research. You can learn how to adopt our approach at your organization if you find it helpful.

Why continuous research?

Compared to evaluative research, which answers specific problems often related to usability, continuous research belongs to the field of generative research, where you explore broader topics. Generative research helps to better understand users and is great at finding weird patterns; things the users do which you wouldn’t expect. For example, we‘ve learnt that users used the continue watching row as a substitute for the Watchlist. Users simply hit the play button and immediately exit the player to find the film later in the continue watching row. It works, but it’s a bit complicated and it reveals that there is probably something wrong with the Watchlist feature.

Continue watching vs. watchlist

How and where can non-researchers help?

At Showmax, we work in a hybrid model, which means even though we have the UX research team, there are more people who can conduct user tests or customer interviews. Each product team talks to two users every week. Interviews are conducted remotely as our users are located in Africa, while product development takes place in Europe. Product teams usually have a stable script, which is related to a business objective they are currently focusing on. Quite often developers attend these interviews as well, as they enjoy watching users tinker with our app. We always do a debrief, where we discuss the learnings and takeaways and discuss the potential next steps.

Thanks to the frequent customer interviews, we’ve discovered the topic of rewatching. Some of our users rewatch the same films or episodes many times. This is particularly true about the kids’ content. For example, one of our young users watched a single episode of Peppa Pig nineteen times within seven hours! We dug deeper and found out that seventeen percent of our users rewatched something in the past month. When you learn such an insight, then you can place it onto the opportunity map (a concept lately championed by Teresa Torres) and start investigating what potential the topic has to help you reach the company goals.

Why does our approach make sense?

We move fast thanks to the frequency of the customer interviews. Product teams learn something new every week. The credibility of product managers and designers increases as they can now easily show how well they know their users. Furthermore, the involvement of developers helps them get better context for their work.

Our approach takes time as it requires training of product managers and designers, so that they can conduct the interviews independently. However, product managers and designers can help researchers, who wouldn’t be able to cover all the opportunities themselves. With product teams involved in the process, researchers can finally free their hands of the day-to-day operations and focus on the high-value strategic deep dives.

Are you eager to join our Product management team and would you like to keep people engaged on the Showmax web and SmartTV apps? Read more and apply.

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