Centering the user perspective
Input from current and potential users of Candid’s tools is crucial to building products for a more efficient and effective social sector. One form this input takes at Candid is User Experience Research (also known as UX research). While we have several channels for gathering customer feedback, UX research is unique since it is about partnering with our current and prospective users to help us understand and adjust to their needs and motivations during the product development process. The goal is to come as close as possible to co-creating products with the people who do or could use them, increasing our likelihood of success in creating built-in value and usability. When done well, UX research allows us to design in anticipation of our users’ needs rather than reactively correcting issues as they emerge.
We’re in the early stages of developing the next generation of Candid’s products, and UX research is deeply integrated into our process. To stay focused on our users’ needs, we’re creating a set of persona archetypes based on in-depth conversations with current and potential users. Sometimes we encounter unexpected insights or novel ways that people use our products.
For example, one customer mentioned that they can review up to 500 funder profile pages in one day using Candid’s Foundation Directory, a time-consuming and tedious exercise! This raises the question of whether we may be able to help get the information they need more quickly and efficiently. Insights like this one serve as design prompts for our teams as they create new and improved versions of our products.
As new design concepts are developed, our team shares early concepts and gathers feedback from potential and current users through surveys and both moderated and unmoderated usability tests. So far in this research, participants have made clear they need tools that allow them to both quickly scan organization profiles as well as dive deep into the details when necessary—for example, when using Candid’s GuideStar to review potential grantee profiles.
At Candid, we believe that when more of our team members have the chance to interact with our customers, they’ll structure their work with a better understanding of the people we serve. We do this through a program called Follow Me Home (FMH). FMH is a practice developed by the software company Intuit through which all Candid staff can have one-on-one conversations with our users. The program is still in its early stages, but we’re already seeing positive signs of progress towards a more user-centered Candid.
For example, several people have shared that they spend valuable time copying information from Candid into their other systems and wish they could export the data more efficiently and seamlessly integrate it into their workflows. This is the kind of feedback we’ll integrate into product development to ensure our tools are enhanced with usability top of mind.
We’re also getting feedback from our users to test big ideas and in the process avoid costly and time-consuming initiatives that aren’t needed. When a “big idea” concept is identified, such as mobile phone alerts of relevant fundraising opportunities, we design an experiment to understand whether this service would be valuable to our customers. In the case of mobile phone alerts, we asked some of our users whether they’d be interested in signing up to receive text messages from us about relevant funding opportunities. The answer we got was “no!” But the good news is we didn’t have to develop complex new systems to find out.
Centering user input will ultimately help us get more resources to organizations that can do the most good. We’re always looking for ways to partner with our users and others who can advise us on an ongoing basis, while balancing our research recruiting to make sure we’re hearing from people with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives.