all-around cool dude



Client: Nutshell

Contribution: UX Research, User Testing

Deliverables: Interaction Map, Survey, Personas & Scenarios, Comparative Evaluation, Heuristic Evaluation, Usability Testing

For this user research project, my team provide Nutshell with a Needs Assessment and Usability Evaluation.  Nutshell provides CRM solutions for its customers.  They focus on functionality, ease-of-use, and price.  From their website:

Nutshell is building modern software with a focus on an elegant user interface and powerful data. We’re working hard to deliver the future of business software: enterprise-level features with the ease-of-use found in popular web applications. We exist to make businesses more productive.

Below are brief summaries the various research methods my team used to examine Nutshell.

Interaction Map 

A static representation allows for a visualization of the site's information architecture and a prediction of interactions that results from a user’s navigation, giving a more thorough understanding of scope and variation.  Considering that part of my team had no prior CRM experience, this exercise helped them to understand the concepts of CRM, as well as helped all of us become better acquainted with the software.    

Interviews, Personas, & Scenarios 

My team interviewed several potential Nutshell customers to gain an understanding of what their needs are.  The interview questions were based on trying to understand their workflow and how CRM impacts their day.  We compared these needs to Nutshell's current offerings and provided recommendations based on the findings.  We created personas and scenarios to describe the Nutshell target population and typical use cases.


The survey gave us an opportunity to gain a broad insights into the CRM world.  The idea was to get a general understanding of how CRM users think.  What is important to them, what do they like, what drives them crazy, etc.  This way we could focus the rest of our work on issues that matter most.  This was especially important for our group, with limited domain experience.  Surveys provide no more than a jumping off point, it must be complimented with other research.

Comparative Evaluation 

 In order to understand how we could make use of our other research, we needed to understand Nutshell in context of the larger CRM market.  We looked at their direct, indirect, partial, and analogous competitors.  It was important to us that we understood all the different ways in which potential users could come to Nutshell.  This way, we could more accurately address the severity of errors in later analyses, as we could match them with the particular users they affect.

Heuristic Evaluation 

 Using the guidelines set by Jakob Nielsen, my team examined Nutshell, looking for usability issues that might affect their customers.  Each of us individually assessed the system then aggregated and assessed our results.  We were particularly interested in the issues that would impact new users, as it's likely that current users have adapted to the system.  This is a method that I know I will use often in the future, as it almost as effective as proper user testing without the cost or time requirement.

Usability Testing 

Whenever possible, usability testing is preferred over, if not alongside a heuristic evaluation.  Usability testing gives deeper insights, as there is no expert who can replicate the way actual users think and act.  We tailored our testing to include tasks that were common and important CRM users.  It was interesting to note that some issues we had previously thought to be of little concern were actually more serious, and vice versa.  Therein lies the benefits of combining this method with other research.