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This is a case study from Marketade’s work with an EU-based firm that provides services and solutions across various markets, including security, transportation, and aerospace. With over 75,000 employees in over 50 countries, they sell to governments and enterprise organizations around the world. Their annual revenue is over $20 billion USD.

Marketade has partnered with this firm on numerous projects since 2019, all of which included qualitative research and stakeholder workshops. Through in-depth customer interviews, our work gives UX and product teams a deep understanding of the journeys and needs of their buyers and users. …

Months before the pandemic, a fitness tech company goes into customers’ homes to gain a deep understanding of their needs — paving the way for actionable personas and journey maps.

Photo by Jonny Kennaugh on Unsplash

Home Visits Before a Home Fitness Explosion

The Covid-19 pandemic sparked a dramatic increase in demand for home fitness equipment. Powered by AI and focused on strength-building, Tonal is the “smartest home gym you’ve ever seen,” according to Men’s Health. Valued at over $500 million, the Bay Area company is backed by Amazon and athlete-investors like Stephen Curry and Serena Williams.

A couple of months before the pandemic, Marketade led in-home qualitative research and a collaborative journey mapping workshop for Tonal. The project’s main goal was to uncover design opportunities to improve the Tonal customer experience and lead the market on connected strength.

Related goals included:

  • Learn…

Facing silos and a “stuck” KPI, a company embraces collaborative research, mixed methods, and rapid experimentation — and turns executive scrutiny into praise.

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Challenge: Low Online Adoption for a Key Service

A Fortune 500 company with over 10 million customers was making steady progress on a key business goal: getting more customers to use its digital self-service channels rather than phone into its call centers. Across numerous product/service lines and transaction types (sales, support, etc.), for years the company had consistently reduced costs while improving the customer experience by making it easier to transact online.

And yet, for one critical service line, the online transaction share was stuck. Only 1 out of 10 customers completed the transaction online. …

Learn how a large company built a scalable research program that transformed its call center user experience and drove measurable business results.

A tunnel of bright, blurred light streaks
A tunnel of bright, blurred light streaks
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Years ago, an enterprise company wanted to improve the user experience of the internal web application used by its call center support reps. With thousands of reps helping millions of customers, support task efficiency was a key driver of both business KPIs and customer satisfaction.

Many companies invest heavily in the UX of their customer-facing software yet ignore the usability of employee-facing systems.

This company was ahead of the curve. They recognized the potential ROI of a redesigned support app built on a deep understanding of the reps’ tasks, needs, and pain points.

The company’s UX team partnered with Marketade…

Struggling to find high-quality research participants? Stop treating recruitment as a necessary evil, and give it the strategic focus it deserves. Here’s our 9-step approach.

Crowd of hand raisers
Crowd of hand raisers
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Within the UX research space, there are numerous platforms, panels, and agencies for participant recruitment. There are also many researchers, designers, and product owners who conduct recruiting on their own.

Despite these resources and experience, participant recruitment is the #1 pain point for many teams conducting user research.

Through our work with a wide range of teams, we have learned that frustration with recruitment is strongest when:

  1. The audience is hard to recruit; and
  2. The team lacks a shared baseline understanding of the audience.

No matter how good the recruiter or the platform, this combination will produce disappointing participants —…

Faced with management requests for bigger numbers, many research teams dig in on qualitative data. Here’s a more effective approach.

Measuring tape
Measuring tape
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Kimberly kept surprising us.

She was using an expert marketplace website, trying to find the right specialist based on her needs. The bare-bones homepage had one call to action: a large search box followed by a button, with some supporting text.

Kimberly ignored it and clicked the navigation at the top. After a few minutes, she scrolled down another page, found an advanced search option, and used the last of 4 possible filters — “expert location” — to start her search.

“Let’s see who they have near me,” she thought aloud.

“Huh,” muttered one of the stakeholders on the virtual…

Follow these steps to get actionable survey data without annoying users.

Light bulb in focus and light bulb blurred
Light bulb in focus and light bulb blurred
Photo by Martin Wilner on Unsplash

User researchers love to hate website surveys, and justifiably so. Poorly-designed surveys are everywhere on the web, in part because tools make it easy to throw one up with lots of questions. Most website surveys annoy users and fail to capture data that results in UX improvements. At best, some of the data ends up in a presentation or dashboard.

But done right, web surveys can have real UX impact. On a recent project, we ran 2 short surveys that achieved actionable insights at a minimal cost to the user experience.

The setting was a usability study for a major…

Want research to drive change? Drop the reports and presentations, and turn research into a team sport.

Team members observe a mobile prototype testing session
Team members observe a mobile prototype testing session

For our agency’s first 5 years, we used the traditional approach to user research: teams hired us, then we disappeared to conduct research and analysis, and returned with a big report.

Over and over, our research failed to drive change. No matter how clear the problems and opportunities were to us, teams nodded politely — and then largely ignored our findings and recommendations.

Frustrated by this lack of impact, about 6 years ago we began to experiment with more collaborative approaches to research. We started by adopting Jared Spool’s variation of the KJ-Method, where we brought diverse teams into the…

We spent 3 weeks struggling through a big bank’s Covid-19 emergency loan process. In half a day, a small bank took us from digital application to “done”.

Pile of paper money
Pile of paper money
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

After 16 days of waiting and hoping, an email from Bank of America arrived. It was the eve of the much-anticipated second round of the Paycheck Protection Program. The next morning, an additional $310 billion in small-business emergency loans were set to release.

My small business of 8 employees was ready for PPP at the start of the first round, submitting our documents soon after the floodgates opened. Then we waited, and waited. Now, over two weeks after we’d last heard from the bank, came an email with this subject line:

“We haven’t received all of your loan application documents”

Need to validate a product idea? Don’t ask users to predict behavior. Get proof with MVP testing.

Person holding red box with “Act Now” sticky note
Person holding red box with “Act Now” sticky note
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From prediction to product failure

Moderator: Imagine this scheduling feature existed today. How likely would you be to use it?

The software product owner looked up from his notes and took a deep breath.

He and his team were huddled in a conference room, watching a video of a concept testing session. For about 20 minutes, the research participant had interacted with a rough prototype of a new scheduling feature. Now, the moment of truth had arrived.

Participant: Yeah, I would definitely use this.

By the end of the day, having watched other sessions with similar exchanges, the team agreed that the scheduling feature was…

John Nicholson

User Research & Innovation | Principal @ Marketade (

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