How Avocode understands their users on a small research budget

Avocode has over 99 features, and a typeform validated almost every one.

  • ChallengeAvocode makes it faster for developers to turn designs into code. The team needs to understand what their users want from them, but don't have the budgets for large-scale user testing.
  • SolutionWhen the Avocode team has an idea for a new feature, they interview a handful of users. Insights from these interviews form the basis of a typeform, which they send out to thousands of Avocode users.
  • ResultAvocode has quantitative data about what their users want to see from them, for little cost. They make bold product decisions with confidence.

A UX designer opens Figma and designs an interface for an app. They've balanced a whole collection of different priorities: user research, the brand style guide, screen size and shape. It looks effortless. Next, they hand it over to a developer and...[buffering, magic, mathematics, something to do with memes]…the design is coded. 

Many of us (cough) don't know exactly what happens between the design and the realisation of the interface. But you can bet it's time-consuming. Developers must manually interpret the different aspects of the design — colors, margins, shapes and typography — into a style guide in the relevant code language. 

That's where Avocode comes in. Avocode is a design hand-off tool: it simplifies the process of turning a design for an interface into reality.

Developers can upload designs to Avocode, select the element they're going to work on, and instantly view its style sheet in the programming language they're using. It saves having to export designs from design tools, so developers don't have to understand Figma, Sketch, or any program their designer is using. It makes coding designs around 2x faster. What a life hack! 

The numbers behind the calculated risks 

Avocode is a small, lean tech startup. Everyone's wearing a couple of different hats, possibly sitting on a beanbag — and they're not shy of trying out risky strategies for growth.  At this stage, every feature they develop could be diverting resources from more useful work. Therefore, success depends on deeply understanding their users' needs.

They don't have a research department and a huge pot of money. But they need to be in their user's pocket. What do Avocode do? Their Product Manager, Josef Kettner, has a solution.

It's a two-step validation process for new feature ideas. Firstly, someone from the UX team conducts a handful of interviews with users about their opinion on that feature. Their answers help narrow down the options for a customer survey typeform, which is sent out to thousands of users and followers.  This way, Avocode gets a handful of in-depth, qualitative data about what users want to see, and double-checks it against a large amount of quantitative data. As he explained, conducting the bulk of his customer research with a typeform is a lot more time efficient than running dozens of live interviews.

“My favourite thing about Typeform is how quickly you can create a survey and get responses. It's harder to get the customer interviews, they take longer. It's much faster to make a survey. You can test your ideas within a week. ”

Josef Kettner , Product Manager

Case study: the prototype feature 

98% of Avocode's core users are developers, but, last year, they decided to create some features to serve UX designers, too. After several user-testing interviews, they came up with an ambitious feature idea: a design prototype tool.

In many design tools, prototyping features aren't very advanced. These programs are for creating an interface, not previewing how it's going to look in action, after all. Designers often have to import their files into some other tool to make a prototype. A prototype allows stakeholders to interact with the interface and suggest what could be improved. After the prototype is approved, the design file is uploaded to Avocode so the developer can get to work.

So the process involves three different programs: Design tool →  Prototyping tool →  Avocode.

Josef and the team asked, why not skip the middle program? It would make life simpler for the designer and the developer. However, turning Avocode into a tool for designers too would open up a whole different set of needs. For this to be a sensible allocation of resources, Josef and the team needed to double check that their feature idea would be popular. 

They decided to make a typeform. Josef explained: 

“It’s always good to back up our findings from customer interviews with numbers from surveys. This way, we have two streams of data to compare, so we can make better decisions. ”

Josef Kettner , Product Manager

Josef sent a market research typeform out to UX designers on social media:

The Avocode team had done a lot of the qualitative research, so they were able to ask closed-ended questions. This made it fast to respond to, and the results simple to understand at a glance. The typeform also used Hidden Fields to automatically log which platform each response came from. 

Over 400 people responded and the results were persuasive. 76% of designers who were not currently using Avocode would start using it if the software could provide a prototype tool. 

It results also helped hammer out the nitty gritty details of the new feature. For instance, Avocode asked: is it important for a prototype tool to show every screen of a new interface at the same time?

The most common answer rated this a 4 out of 5 for importance — very important. So the prototype feature had to offer a multi-screen view to meet the users' expectations. Good to know! 

From research to reality 

With plenty of data on what their users wanted, the Avocode team were able to get started with confidence.

In fact, typeform-based user surveying has been a standard part of the company's workflow for Josef’s entire Avocode career. In 2020 alone, they launched 29 new features, all of them supported by typeform-generated data. As Josef explained: 

“Typeform definitely saves us resources, and eventually money!”

Josef Kettner , Product Manager

They have found a handful of live interviews + a typeform to be the sweet spot between saving resources and getting the research needed to back up important product decisions. 

By researching their users in this thorough but efficient way, Avocode has put their product roadmap on fast-forwards. They're improving month-on-month at what they do: saving engineers a lot of time. 

The moral of the story is this. Don't let feature ideas lose momentum. Why not validate them with streamlined research ASAP? That way, you can weed out the ideas your users won't like, and roll out the brilliant ones while the team is still buzzing from the brainstorm. 

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