Jacqueline Jensen

Community Evangelist | Piktochart

Our team at Piktochart was counting down the days until SXSW kicked off this year. We were excited to get back to Austin for a few different reasons, each one more exciting than the last!

We were thrilled to have the chance to share knowledge from the event with the Piktochart community. Thousands of cutting-edge new media industry experts, innovative developers, and business leaders have spoken at SXSW Interactive over the last 23 years, including this year’s keynote speaker, President Obama!

Throughout the conference, our team was able to pick from hundreds of programming sessions that covered everything from the latest design and development trends to how scale a product like Piktochart.

We each picked our favorite session from SXSW 2016 to share with you. We’ve split our recaps into two parts: How to Get Great Feedback (which is this post) and Clever Ways to Build Interest (which we published two weeks ago). We hope you can take what we’ve learned and use it to help build your project into something awesome!


How To Get Great Customer Feedback

What was originally billed as a panel discussion on customer feedback morphed into a fruitful solo session from Andrew Ackerman, Managing Director at Dreamit. Throughout the session, Ackerman shared tricks and traps he gained from hundreds of early customer meetings.

“I wanted to attend this session at SXSW because it’s important to be sure we are listening to and digging up customer feedback,” said Justin Wiesenfeld, our Customer Success Guru at Piktochart. “My role allows me to show new users what their experience will be like after they sign up, as well as to talk to users about their experiences with the Piktochart editor and discover pain points.”

In the session, presenter Andrew Ackerman told the attendees, “The reason why we talk to customers is because we don’t know what we don’t know.”

Ackerman believes that productive meetings with customers early in a product’s development is extremely helpful in ensuring your team is getting accurate, actionable, and realistic feedback from the right target customer, long before your product is even built. When you are ready to move past the development stage, he explained what companies should be showing users during a demo.

In these demos, he suggested focusing on what the audience cares about. According to Ackerman, it’s important to keep in mind both why people are signing up for the service or product and what they expect out of it. He added that showcasing common use case scenarios to clearly set up the problem the service is solving.

'The reason why we talk to customers is because we don't know what we don’t know.'- @andrewackerman Click To Tweet

“In Piktochart demos, we should have a few general examples to talk about so that new users can wrap their heads around and relate to their own use cases,” said Justin. “Then, we should demo the solution and benefits instead of going feature by feature and trying to show everything to a new user.”

Ackerman advised uncovering the problems that new users are experiencing by asking the following questions:

  • How painful is problem?
  • What’s the frequency of this problem in their lives? (Interestingly, he says this is a great question to answer when deciding the product’s price point!)
  • How we think users can utilize Piktochart to deal with problem?
  • Do others have this same problem?
  • When speaking to users, if they aren’t experiencing this problem, ask to learn more. Perhaps you aren’t speaking with right target. Or, you might begin to question if the problem actually exists at all!

“I gained valuable insight into the process behind how to narrow down a product demo to customers and how to talk to users about the issues they are having with using our product through asking certain why-related questions,” noted Justin.


Get and Give Better Design Feedback Through Critique

In this session, Aaron Irizarry, Director of UX at NASDAQ, joined forces with Adam Connor, VP Organizational Design at design agency MadPow, to discuss how to structure conversations to collect useful feedback and make discussions productive. Our Chief Product Officer Elvin Lee was excited to attend this 4 hour workshop to learn new tips and tricks!

“Feedback is important in any product or feature that we build,” explained Elvin. “Good feedback can steer the idea in the right direction. I’m looking forward to leveraging a more proper feedback framework and mindset for everyone at Piktochart.”

Elvin learned that giving critique with the right intent is objective-focused and receiving critique with the right intent takes humility and restraint. In startups, collaboration requires us to share our work and collect other’s thoughts in order to understand if we are meeting the project’s objectives. But, the presenters noted, we often struggle with collecting feedback.

“We get less than helpful comments that seem irrelevant or unclear,” the presenters explained. “Or we find we’re getting reactions at inopportune times rather than points in the process when they’d have been useful in informing decisions.”

In this workshop, Elvin learned ways to better facilitate a design critique session. He was also introduced to guidelines to remind everyone of do’s and don’ts when providing design feedback. One of the most helpful things he learned is there are small exercises that can be done to nurture the mindset of design feedback.

“Getting everyone in the company to be involved and understand processes is a difficult thing to do, but most valuable when done right,” he said after the session. “This workshop was not specifically just for design feedback.”

Irizarry and Connor suggested reading their book Discussing Design to learn more about the subject. The book covers things like best practices for giving and receiving critique, cultural aspects that influence your ability to critique constructively, and strategies for dealing with difficult people and challenging situations.

SXSW was a great experience for our team this year. We hope that the knowledge we gained and experiences we had could be helpful to you as well!

Were you at SXSW 2016? What was your favorite session? Share your knowledge and eye-opening moments with us in the comments below!