Invite engineers to your user interviews

Defaulting to making user interviews a social activity can help you reach better outcomes as a product team.

Invite engineers to your user interviews

During the first lockdowns in the UK last year, the product team I worked with as a product manager switched to remote working overnight. While we felt lucky that we could keep working from home as the world grappled with COVID, it was clear this change impacted how we could work as a team.

Ideas that usually spread through teams by osmosis in the office didn't happen as naturally remotely. Insights, feedback and ideas now had to documented and communicated electronically, contributing to the information overload a lot of colleagues were experiencing.

As a product manager, co-managing the discovery and user research process with designers and researchers became a lot harder, as the engineers in our team and external stakeholders often felt removed from conversations with our users.

To decrease the separation between our users and the teams building the product, we tried sharing brief updates over slack and email with insights from conversations with users. These updates were rarely read and discussed in depth outside of the group leading the research, as people had started filtering out information (to keep up with the increase in emails) since we moved to remote working.

Eventually, we began inviting engineers and stakeholders to participate directly in our user interviews.  We knew no one would absorb all the insights gathered during a set of interviews. However, if we could get them to participate in a few interviews, they would better understand how our real users looked at our product. Every time we started a remote user interview, we'd ping everyone we thought could be interested in learning more about our users, inviting them to join the session. Usually, a handful of colleagues would show up, either helping out with note-taking or just listening in and suggesting follow up questions on answers they found interesting.

Over time, the conversations in our team changed. Engineers felt more engaged with their work, as they now knew some of the people they were building the product for. As a team, prioritising what problems to work on started feeling less like guesswork and became more centred around how we could best help the users we'd spoken to in the weeks previously.

Invite team members in your research sessions on Ribbon

By defaulting to making user interviews a social activity, you make it easier for your team to feel connected with your users and the problems they are solving. To this end, we're today launching multi-participant video calling to Ribbon, meaning your entire team can now drop into, participate in and observe user interviews in real-time.

When you start a new session, your team members can now join that session from their dashboard. Before joining the session they can choose how they want to participate in the interview. By joining as a researcher, they will be visible to the participant and can actively ask the participant questions. They can also participate as a hidden observer, with their microphone and camera turned off, making it easy to drop into sessions even when you're not prepared to engage with the user.

This update makes it easier to engage your team in discovery and research by making interviews a social activity. We're excited for you to try it out.

Happy interviewing,

Axel