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Curious Minds – Interview with Matter’s research and design team

6 May 2020Research3m read

Matter is a professional feedback platform based out of San Francisco. They are building the next-generation app for professionals, teams, and organizations to empower growth and personal betterment.

Matter’s research and design team is made up of a researcher, two designers, and a product manager. We spoke with Marc Reisen, Head of Design, and Francesca Gabales, Design Strategist and Researcher to learn about how they approach research and design.


What is Matter’s mission?

Matter, founded in 2017 by Brett Hellman, was born out of the pain that most people experience during annual review cycles. Existing tools for feedback are complicated, confusing, and cumbersome - but Matter is different. Matter makes feedback productive, positive, and pleasant. Our mission is to change the whole way you approach getting feedback and to put you in control.

How does research and design work at Matter?

Given that we are a feedback product, it won’t surprise you that Matter is customer-obsessed. We try to ‘sit down and chat’ with at least five customers a week for qualitative in-depth interviews (IDIs). Every conversation has a purpose and looks at solving a specific problem statement that impacts our product. The whole team is invited to join these IDIs because we know that, regardless of whether you are in engineering or marketing, having a pulse on customers’ needs and expectations benefits everyone collectively.

What challenges do you have with research?

A challenge with qualitative research is that customers are very eager to put on their design hats and request a wide spectrum of features and functionalities. As a design team, we make a concerted effort to probe for the root cause of these asks before we build out conclusions. Thinking through this lens allows us to be data-informed, but not drive every decision solely based on raw data.

How has research and design evolved for Matter?

In the beginning, our design team was just Marc Reisen, our Head of Design. Due to the time needed for research, qualitative efforts were reserved for larger projects during the initial stages of the design and development process. In 2019, Matter grew from a team of four to a team of 11. With that growth, Matter has been able to decentralize research and design through the hiring of a dedicated researcher and a product designer. This evolution has allowed Matter to work at a faster velocity in creating new features, while also dedicating time to iterate on existing features.

How does Dovetail fit into your process?

All customer feedback is fed through to Dovetail. We import data from our NPS tool, enter transcripts from customer qualitative interviews, and log customer support conversations. The data is then tagged with common themes - some of these themes are project-specific, whereas others apply to a more global experience.

Dovetail’s tagging extensions allow us to compartmentalize themes and merge similar ones together. Once the themes have been solidified, write-ups are created through Dovetail’s insights, and then these insights are shared with the broader company.

Finding product-market fit is about building the right thing for the right customer. When a company opens itself up to user feedback, it is easy to get inundated with data. Dovetail helps Matter sift through the noise, and ensures that unstructured data from various sources can be tagged and categorized into meaningful insights.

What does your tooling look like?

Dovetail has been our core research tool since Matter was founded. Dovetail was first introduced by Marc, our Head of Design, in an effort to find common themes within various customer inputs and is now managed by Francesca Gabales, our Design Strategist and Researcher. Dovetail is our source of truth for qualitative customer data – from raw customer transcripts, tagging structures, and customer insights. Through these insights, our product manager creates product requirement documents (PRDs) inside Notion, which leads to design work via Figma. Dovetail, along with Notion and Figma, helps make research and design collaborative and simple.

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