Chad Halvorson Interview: UX and the Customer Growth Driven Perspective

Chad Halvorson, Founder and CEO of When I Work spoke with MIMA about the subject of his upcoming event, UX and the Customer Growth Driven Perspective. When I Work has grown significantly since 2010 and recently received $24 million in venture capital. Chad started the company with three people and it has now grown to 130 with offices in Minneapolis.

MIMA: You are going to discuss managing qualitative and quantitative data related to executing a UX strategy.  What do you see people doing in UX design that may not serve them and how will they benefit from your insights?

Chad: There are a couple ways I look at it.  The first one is less about the nature of the data and more about the intent of the questions you are trying to answer.  What I see companies doing, especially software companies, is over indexing from a product perspective on solving the outcome for the user rather than creating a good outcome for the business.  It is true that the primary objective of product design is to solve the user’s problem but companies can also look at how they architect the user experience, being more deliberate about influencing the user’s behavior to drive specific business objectives.  If certain features move a user closer to a particular business outcome, whether converting them to paying customers or influencing them to use a particular feature which is critical for long-term product success, it may not be 100% about the user experience expectations.

MIMA:  A more holistic approach to the product design, makes sense.  When does the data come into play?

Chad: From the qualitative/quantitative perspective – the data can be limited – so you talk to maybe ½ dozen users and you think you have discovered a pattern which would influence the design.  However, in real life those six people really don’t represent your entire user base.  What you learn from that qualitative data is a beginning.  For example, you find three common pieces of feedback which leads you to decide where to invest your design resources to fix the problem.  Companies will take the insight from limited directional data and product design will stop there.   What I suggest is you look at the data to see if the investment you are making is something that will touch a big portion of the user base.  What can you measure and validate?  You could go even further by asking if the user outcome is something you even care about from a business perspective.  You can make a strong case for the investment you are making with this approach.

MIMA: What should most marketers know so they can facilitate this strategy? 

Chad:  Measurement is critical.  You need to measure the impact of the effort you are putting into something.  If you have a strong hypothesis, based on a set of qualitative data points, when you put that into the real world, you want to measure the impact.  Check to see if your hypothesis was correct.  Also, look at what your ultimate business objective is and get really creative in how you reverse engineer the business objective into the UX design and the value proposition of the product.

MIMA:  Do you have a good example?

Chad:  Yes.  So, let’s say you have a software product that requires users to get their friends/co-workers to sign-up and interact to make it work.  Most people signing on for the first time, might be reluctant to invite their friends until they understand how it works. You know from a business perspective that the sooner a user can have the full experience and interact with other users, the more successful the product will be for them. You need to decide how deliberate you want to be to drive a user to add their contact list, rather than discover this on their own or wait until they are comfortable.  It is a balance.  You don’t want to be deceptive but you also want to influence the user to have the best experience so everyone can win.

MIMA:  How do you put this to work at When I Work?

Chad:  We want to prove a thing is a thing as soon as we can.  Rather than get overly passionate about a feature or product idea, we want to use the data to validate our original hypothesis, as quickly as possible.  Let us prove it, or not and then move on if we need to.  We can keep generating new ideas and not just get stuck on something, hoping to make it “right.”  We don’t want to get too attached to ideas because many of them fail.

MIMA: What inspired you to start When I Work?

Chad:  My first job, I worked at a grocery store, bagging groceries and stocking shelves.   The manager would post the work schedule kind of at the last minute, he was a busy guy.  He’d always post the schedule for the following week on a Saturday or Sunday.  We had to go in on the weekend, even if we weren’t working to check our schedules to see if we had to work Monday.  This was annoying. I thought that if I could get the Manager to post the schedule to a web page I could see it from home, and that was the idea originally.

MIMA:  How long from that pain-point at the grocery store before you had a company?

It took awhile.  That first job was in 1998!  I tried to start the company before and I was unsuccessful getting it going so I put it on the backburner.  Brought it back about 10 years later, getting started in 2008 and launching in 2010, once technology had evolved and mobile phones had become a thing.  It made sense to try again with more interesting ways to solve the problem.  I guess that was twenty years in the making, a long journey of relentless commitment to seeing this thing happen.

Want more details and examples about implementing a growth driven perspective to UX Design?  Tickets are still available for MIMA’s August event here. Find out more about Chad’s company When I Work, here

This article was written by MIMA Marketing Committee volunteer, Gina Micek

Gina Micek


Integrated marketing strategist, writer, storyteller and adventurer. I am a builder with skills in relationship building and telling compelling stories that drive connections.