#MentorSpotlight || Meet Marcelle Kaspi
“Even Henry Ford tested his product countless times through user validation and user testing”
Corporate banker to UX master
Born in Israel and raised in Canada, Marcelle Kaspi always dreamt of returning to the Startup Nation. Her dream became a reality when she made aliyah in 2005 and soon realized that it had been the best decision both personally and career-wise. She began her career in Canada as an investment banker later turned investment advisor, and ultimately got involved in the high tech world while working in the online retention marketing field. Later, she began her journey in the world of product experience and design in Israel.
As a UX designer, Marcelle started ProdUX Studio, where as project manager she helps startups ensure their products are designed to meet their users’ needs. She uses storytelling and journey mapping to create a company’s wireframe and/ or MVP, making sure the business’ goals and needs are in line with the product. She believes that to find the best solution one must first understand the problem in its entirety. When looking to set up a foundation, which is critical for a company, and create the key documentation for its development team, companies turn to Marcelle.
Marcelle assists companies both before product creation — to research and validate their ideas — and after launch, during product testing and market validation.
She lived in Tel Aviv when she first moved to Israel and then later came to Jerusalem for a job opportunity. She says that coming from the corporate world in Canada to Israel, and more specifically the warm community of Jerusalem, was an incredible switch which solidified her decision.
Startups from the eyes of a designer
Marcelle advises all founders to get as close to their users as possible, always include them in the dialogue. The cycle should always be: validate, build, test, and repeat. Going through the cycle in this specific order saves time and prevents costly mistakes in future. A product goes through an evolution and the earlier a company can get their users to test the product, the shorter the evolution is.
Through testing, founders often realize that the things which they originally thought were important end up not being critical features.
She suggest having testers talk out loud when prototyping to monitor their train of thought. If they can’t figure it out for themselves, they won’t use it and chances are others won’t either. Learn what’s confusing them, or what’s not needed; what gets “aha”, “oh wow”, “I don’t get it” or “I didn’t expect that”. These help with adjustments and tweaks. The ideal situation would be to test until only positive feedback is received.
Michael Margolis, a partner on the Google Ventures design team and an expert in research experience, says that testing with 4–5 users can flush out a good 80% of a company’s problems.
Mistakes made and learned from
Marcelle says that after completing a project she always feels as if she could’ve worked on it more through research and iteration, because the job is never completely done. She explains a specific job saying, “I worked on a project where we ran 2 or 3 tests and then iterations. Even though the product did better than the company expected, I think I could’ve worked more on it. It’s thoughtfulness, you need to have the time to think, work through more options.” Marcelle describes the pull between speed and quality and how having both is simply impossible.
With new clients, she often finds it hard to explain why although she is physically able to do the work fast, it will not be completed as quickly, because users need time to play with the product. No one can expect both a fast job and a great user experience.
She encourages all founders and those beginning to test a product to treat it as a life; let it live, nurture it, give it the time it needs and test it properly. It shouldn’t be a basket of features, rather it should be a solution to a problem and any feature added must be useful.
Make sure that by solving old problems, new ones aren’t hatched. For example, mobile taxi hailing services. The simple solution is that one is able to order a taxi from their mobile device. But, then new problems arise: how to order, how to communicate, how to pay. Companies such as Uber and Gett successfully solved these problems and that’s why they’re more successful than others.
“To find the best solution, one must first understand the problem in its entirety” — Marcelle Kaspi, UX Designer