May 16, 2013

New MailChimp: Redesigning with Research

Informed decisions require information (that word "informed" is there for a reason), and information is something we’re not short on around here. MailChimp research typically falls into two categories: primary research, which is new research tailored to answer specific questions; and secondary research, which is readily available and relevant research from past studies. Throughout the New MailChimp design process, the research team combined the powers of both our primary and secondary research.

During the redesign, we ran rapid-fire usability tests on commonly used and radically changing features to get immediate feedback. For instance, we wanted to test our Campaign Builder on as many eyes and on as many screens as possible in one day to keep our design schedule on track. We ran around our office with a testing laptop, recording a mix of friends and coworkers as they put the redesign through its paces on laptops and iPads. After several hours of 5-10 minute test sessions, we compiled a prioritized list of bugs, usability issues, and specific changes for our designers to improve. Our UI design performed pretty solidly on standard screen resolutions, but we did find room for workflow improvement on the iPad.

Testing MailChimp on the iPad with Silverback and Reflector

Then we combed our secondary data sources to gauge customer feedback, user behaviors, site analytics, and data from usability tests and surveys we had already conducted (and there were a lot of them). This allowed us to better understand the types of jobs our customers are trying to do, and what features and functions we could emphasize to better empower them.

To aggregate our secondary research data, we use an Evernote for Business account. This allows us to quickly and accurately look at user feedback and previous studies to answer design and development-related questions, like, "What are our customers doing on the subscriber activity profile pages?"

In terms of our redesign, we considered a massive redo of our "View Subscriber" table. But when we combed through Evernote, the results from recent studies on how our users view and use Subscriber Profiles indicated that our redesign idea would disrupt their workflow as they verify subscriber information. They didn’t necessarily need a newly designed view—what they really needed was a better way to sort and scroll on the subscriber table. So until we can study this issue further, we’re going to keep the changes to these minor-but-helpful usability fixes.

In addition to all that jazz, we ran Card Sorts to verify Information Architecture changes and quick surveys to learn more about our users, like which list statistics are most important in their day-to-day workflow. We learned a lot about our customers’ priorities that way.

Quick survey results for important list statistics

It’s been exciting for the research team to work alongside our designers and developers throughout the process, and we love seeing MailChimp’s new workflow informed by what we know about our users and their workflows. Go Team Research!

If you’d like to see other previews of what’s coming, we’re releasing a series of blog posts and videos that go into a bit more detail found here: New MailChimp