Using Design Thinking in the Goal Creation Process

Reimagining how goals are created inside of BetterWorks

Some background…

I lead product design at BetterWorks, a startup headquartered in Redwood City, California. BetterWorks provides software that makes it easy for companies to manage collaborative goals and have ongoing performance conversations.

At BetterWorks, our approach to just about everything is highly focused on execution. We’ll often quote one of our investors, prominent venture capitalist John Doerr, who says that “Ideas are precious, but they’re relatively easy. It’s execution that’s everything.” This is especially true for product design — and as we’ve grown, we’ve made customer empathy a key focal point and pride ourselves as champions of using design thinking to inform customer experiences.

Our ‘Goal Create’ flow is central to our product and is where users create their OKRs (objectives and key results), a type of goal-setting that helps connect company, team and personal objectives to measurable results. The content and progress of users’ OKRs are then visible to everyone in their company and are used for strategic planning and performance development conversations. Our old ‘Goal Create’ flow was relatively simple — but customers could only create one objective at a time which meant they had to use the same form multiple times to create a set of OKRs. This was time consuming and painfully repetitive. Also, other important tasks related to OKRs were several clicks away. We had a huge opportunity to make the process fast and delightful so we set out to re-imagine this experience using our approach to design thinking: Empathize, Invent and Experiment.

Empathize Phase

Rounding up the team and getting the customer’s perspective…

When we kicked off this project, we teamed up with our front-end developer early in the process because we knew that having a shared understanding of customers’ goals, behaviors and needs would make us a stronger team with a laser focus on solving the right problems for our customers.

As part of our initial research, we spent time with our Customer Success team — who engage with our customers daily — to learn what customers valued about the current experience and what caused them pain. We also took a look at our quantitative data and ran some unmoderated usability tests to get an understanding of where people were having issues.

Mine for gold…

We also spent a lot of time getting to know current customers and having them walk us through their goal creation process both on and offline. One of the things we learned was that customers were creating goal drafts outside of our software, and copy-pasting their drafts into the software when they were ready to enter the info. It was a no-brainer for us to build the ability to save drafts into our system and spare our customers that extra work.

Use personas to keep customers in mind throughout the design process…

We took all of our customer observations and captured them using empathy maps that we turned into four lightweight personas to inform our use cases. We also used them to make sure we were recruiting representative research participants for the testing and feedback phase which would come later.

Get a fresh perspective with analogous research…

Looking at analogous experiences like project management and mind mapping tools helped us think creatively about how they might apply to goal creation. This exercise inspired our approach to the page layout, which enables users to create a simple lightweight list of goals without having to provide additional goal details. Instead, we automatically provide many of them for you and you can always make modifications later.

Key takeaways…

By starting with our customers, and watching their behaviors, we learned we were making them jump through too many hoops to create individual OKRs, rather than enabling them to create multiple OKRs at once, as they were already doing offline. This was not only important from an efficiency perspective but also because seeing all your goals at once better illustrated the relationships among the goals and how they contribute to the big picture for the individual and the company.

Invent Phase

Get ’em excited to share ideas…

The invent stage brimmed with energy from multiple team members and stakeholders across the company. It involved a lot of brainstorming and narrowing down so that we could sketch solutions. We quickly started stitching those together into lightweight prototypes using Invision so that others could start experiencing the new flow right away.

Socialize, socialize, socialize…

We socialized our concepts internally and externally — including a feedback session with John Doerr,the “Father of OKRs,” who helped us confirm we were on the right track. So we dialed up the fidelity of our prototype with help from our developer and started testing our highly interactive experience with customers.

Experiment Phase

Friends in high places…

Our team launched into the experiment phase so that we could validate our hypotheses with customers. One of our large enterprise customers was so passionate about what we were trying to do that they offered us their research labs to run our studies. Now that’s a committed partner!

Test, learn, and iterate…

Our onsite usability studies drew a large group of BetterWorkers to observe customers. With our developer onsite, we could rapidly iterate on the prototype based on real-time feedback we were receiving. This led us to refine and narrow two potential design directions into one that became the primary direction our engineers implemented.

BetterWorks new ‘Goal Create’ flow

Our release and results…

The latest version of our ‘Goal Create’ flow is now live. It’s currently an MVP with more features to follow. The data is already showing that customers are creating goals faster than ever before and conversion rates have increased. We’re also hearing directly from customers who are thrilled with the new direction. We’re just getting started and have more in the works especially around goal editing. Because design thinking is an ongoing process for us, we’ll continue connecting with our customers, reflecting and iterating to evolve our product. Please let us know if you have thoughts around the experience and what we can do to continue delivering delight.

Written by: Ana Varela, Product Design Lead at BetterWorks

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