Here’s How I Helped a Stealth Start-up Empathize With Their Users

A UX Research Project

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash


My client needed a way to assess the usability and desirability of a competitor’s product and see how well it meets the needs of their own target market.

Based on their market research findings, we defined user goals and decided to use Competitive Usability Testing and User Interviews in order to help their team empathize with their users so they have a clear picture of who their product is for.

Project Purpose

The aim of this project is to assess whether a competitor’s product is satisfactory to the needs of my client’s target customers — students and mentors in the tuition industry, based in Singapore.

The Client

My client is a startup that is currently operating in stealth mode. This means that I cannot disclose specifics about their end solution and business.


UX Researcher


  • Moderating interview sessions
  • Data collection & analysis

The Problem

The client wanted to understand how might address the following pain points in the tuition industry:

  • Coordinate and conduct lessons remotely
  • Maintain the quality of their lessons in an online environment
  • Track students’ progress accurately in order to better strategize future lessons to help them improve

Research Process

My UX Research process

Define Goals

  • Assess the usability and desirability of a competitor product with our intended users
  • Understand the processes used by private tutors and tuition center owners when it comes to lesson planning and student management
  • Understand how and what students look for when studying with a private tutor and/or tuition center

Methods Selected

Remote and physical research methods were chosen for the purpose of this research.

  • Competitive Usability Testing (Remote)
  • User Interviews (Remote)
  • Contextual Inquiry (Physical)

Why these methods? Based on the goals defined, I understood that the clients were keen to acquire behavioural data on their target users, and I believe these were the appropriate methods to help them obtain the information needed.

Research Conducted

1. Competitive Usability Testing

Me moderating a usability test session with a real participant

Competitive Usability Testing was used with tuition center owners and private tutors to understand how they feel about certain features before we consider incorporating them into our own product.

2. Remote User Interviews

I interviewed students to understand their experiences in studying with private tutors and tuition centers.

3. Contextual Inquiry

With the client, I visited tuition centers to speak with owners to better understand their work practices, and staff & student behaviours. This is to help us create features that align with their needs and wants.

The outcome of methods used:

I analyzed the data collected and made sure that my findings had as little bias as possible in order to uphold the integrity of the information provided by our participants. These findings were presented to my client to help them make decisions with tangible market users in mind.

User Personas

I created personas with the data gathered to help my clients build empathy towards who they are creating the solution for.

Empathy was a crucial step towards helping them understand that they creating a solution for real people, and that this is how their users think, feel, and experience their product.

Sample of Persona created for client

Project Outcome

A clear mind of who we are building a solution for. Now we design. I concluded the research by providing a report detailing key insights into our users. As of now, I am onto the next phase of the project where I advise the product from a UX standpoint and act as a stakeholder in feature requirements planning.


At the start of the project, I should have asked the client if there were any assumptions they wanted to validate when I was speaking with them.

This would have helped us clear some misconceptions we made along the way and how certain questions were structured. Thankfully, the client was still satisfied as I was still able to help them learn what they wanted to, and provide concrete insights.




This portfolio features Nikko’s best UX works and case studies.

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Nikko J. Lopez

Nikko J. Lopez

I write here sometimes. Mostly do a lot of UX reading.

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