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Rachel Decker

Rachel is the sole UX Researcher at cybersecurity startup Barkly. Previously she spent 3 years as a Researcher at HubSpot with her UX Sister Molly. She loves making ice cream, riding her bike, and thinking about adopting a cat.

Recent Posts

Startup UX Research

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 28, 2017 11:14:26 AM / by Rachel Decker posted in user research

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A little over a year ago, I started as the first and only UX researcher at a cybersecurity startup called Barkly. I came on board part-time in January 2016 when the company was around 25 people and the product wasn’t even yet in beta, let alone launched. It’s unusual for a startup to care at all about having a full-time researcher and I was intrigued that they wanted to hire my position on the team.

Without a ton of users to research would I really have anything to do?

Not everyone had worked with a researcher before, and I was brought to Barkly by a designer I used to work with at HubSpot. He and I knew how things were done at HubSpot, but an early stage startup doesn’t have the same needs or challenges as a global public company. I found things that worked at HubSpot didn’t work at Barkly, and vice versa. I also realized I had the opportunity to build the research role the way I wanted, not swimming upstream against ingrained practices that are hard to undo.

And even though we had no product, my fears were unfounded because there was plenty for me to do. Fast forward a year later, we have grown as a company, released a product, and learned a ton along the way. A lot happened in the last 13 months. I had a hand in getting us there and wanted to share what I did in my first year as the only researcher at a startup.

1. Get to know the team

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How to run a Design Studio

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 30, 2015 12:30:00 PM / by Rachel Decker posted in UX Design

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When trying to design a new solution to a problem, stakeholders don’t always agree. In fact, do they ever all agree? It can be hard to get a bunch of smart people in a room and have them all converge on one solution without any argument.

Instead, harness this energy with a collaborative sketching technique called a design studio. A design studio brings teammates together to create designs through sketching, feedback, and iteration. It requires a few hours, a group of co-workers, a meaty problem, and some sketching. (I'll explain the exact process below.)

Design studios help you create designs, explore problems, and unify stakeholders in a matter of hours. It’s a win-win-win.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Usability Testing

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 4, 2015 12:30:00 PM / by Rachel Decker posted in Usability Testing

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This article was originally posted on the AppCues Academy.

It’s hard to get something right the first time you try it. The New England Patriots had four grueling decades before they won three Super Bowls in four years. Morgan Freeman didn’t land his first major Hollywood role until he was 52.

And this is especially true with software. It’s rare that a new feature is perfect after its first build. And when things go wrong, they can go very wrong. Launching a bad product experience can mean hordes of upset customers, lost revenue and, of course, a waste of your team’s most precious resource: time.

So to mitigate these risks, we turn to user testing. User testing provides us the customer insights needed to ensure our next release isn’t a total flop. And whenever you are designing a new user onboarding flow, you’ll want to incorporate extensive user testing into the scope of the project. Testing your onboarding experience with real users before you release it will save you tons of time, and help eliminate confusion that makes users bounce.

Don’t have a UX researcher on your team? Not to worry. You don’t have to be a designer, developer or UX researcher to get great customer insights from user testing. But you do need to know how to ask the right people the right questions to come to important design conclusions. Here’s everything you need to know about how to run an effective user test (and how one particular user test helped HubSpot achieve a 400% lift in one of our KPIs).

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7 Ways to Get Better Data During Remote Usability Testing

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 11, 2015 1:52:18 PM / by Rachel Decker posted in Usability Testing

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The last time a friend told you a story, you probably were able to relate to their experience and feelings. Maybe that’s how you two became friends in the first place -- because you got each other. Understanding and relating your emotions to others is called empathy, and it’s an essential part of any relationship.

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Usability vs Beta Testing (The What & When)

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 7, 2014 1:51:00 PM / by Rachel Decker posted in Usability Testing, Beta Testing

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If you work in software and product development (or are stumbling around a UX blog…) you’ve probably heard about usability testing and beta testing. They sound kind of useful and buzzwordy, but what do they actually mean? Are they even different from each other in any meaningful way? I’m asked this question quite often, so I wanted to define what each one is -- what each one is not -- in the life of a UX researcher at a SaaS software company.

 

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6 People a UX Researcher Works With

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 13, 2014 11:52:00 AM / by Rachel Decker posted in Usability Testing, ux, Software Development, UX Team

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Being a UX researcher isn’t a one-lady show. There’s no way we can do it alone. Even though there are only two of us at HubSpot, we work with many incredibly talented people throughout the process of helping to make a new piece of software more user friendly. But for now, let’s just cover the top six.

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Recruiting Customers for Usability Testing

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 5, 2014 10:44:41 AM / by Rachel Decker posted in Usability Testing, Recruiting

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One of the biggest (and best) parts of my job is talking to and gathering feedback from HubSpot customers. Luckily for me, many of our customers are passionate users of the software and they genuinely care about what our product team working on. Between working on the HubSpot Support and UX teams in the last 2.5 years, I’ve talked to thousands of customers. But when I’m looking to run usability testing with customers, I have to be choosey.

How do I know which customers to talk to about new pieces of software? And how do I continue to grow my customer usability testing database?

At HubSpot, we have a few different avenues we use to grow our database:

  • Promoting our landing pages

  • Internal referrals

  • Previous feedback

Let's dive in...

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