User Research Study: How One Global Family Built Lasting Bonds in 2 Weeks

How a grandma became top of mind for her grandchild

Would you believe me if I said that real, lasting connections can be made over a distance in just 2-weeks? Well, listen closely to the story of Hannie, Nora and baby Sanne.

Hannie, Nora and Sanne participated in a 2-week study with Peekabond last month. For this project, we asked them to simply use Peekabond at their own pace for this time period. Our user researcher spoke with each of them at the beginning and end of the 2 weeks. They also filled out surveys about their remote bonding experience along the way. This experiment not only taught us SO much about our app, but also helped facilitate strong, lasting connections for their family.

Our goal with this research study was to understand how using Peekabond would affect a family’s remote connection. We set up the experiment to measure if the frequency of connection, the strength of connection and the enjoyment of the connection changed over two weeks. We hoped that using Peekabond would increase all three of these measurements. We also were interested in discovering what was difficult for these users, so we could improve.

This is the start of something new

Hannie is a grandmother who lives in The Netherlands. She misses her daughter, Nora, and 2 year-old granddaughter, Sanne, dearly. Nora and Sanne live over 16,000 km away in Australia. They don’t get to see each other very often, and the big time difference makes it hard for them to stay in touch.

Before Peekabond, they connected via WhatsApp video call once a week during Sanne’s bathtime. They also occasionally sent messages, photos and videos on WhatsApp to each other.

Hannie finds it difficult to connect with Sanne on the video call. Sanne likes it when her grandma does something silly on the camera, but this is not very comfy for Hannie to do. Hannie hopes that Peekabond’s activity cards will make it easier to be silly on camera for Sanne.

Nora, as most moms, is very busy, and keeping her daughter connected with her family far away can be challenging. The time difference makes it extra difficult. She hopes that Peekabond can help ease the stress of finding time in their busy lives to connect.

We’re halfway there

After just one week of using Peekabond, Hannie and Nora both reported a small increase in the enjoyment of their remote connecting experience.

Hannie was beginning to feel more comfortable with making videos that Sanne would enjoy. She got creative with the activity cards and also made videos on her own.

Sanne started recognizing the videos and already had her few favorites. One with her grandma and grandpa practicing their names in the car was a hit! She also liked one her grandma sent of a frog (“kikker” in Dutch) and would ask to watch this one on repeat by saying “kikker, kikker”.

For Hannie, knowing that her granddaughter was enjoying the videos meant a lot to her. It felt like they were able to have shared experiences together, even while being worlds away.

Both Hannie and Sanne also reported the strength of the connection to be stronger after just one week. These shared memories made all the difference.

The finish line

At the end of the experiment, they felt positive feelings towards their remote connection and how Peekabond helped them get there. Even baby Nora started asking to call grandma and grandpa more often because she wanted to see their faces through the screen! This was very important for her mother because it meant that Nora wanted to take steps all on her own to stay close with her grandparents far away.

Both the mother and the grandmother reported an increase in the strength of their connection before and after the study. For Sanne, the strength of the connection increased by 20%. And for Hannie, the connection she felt with her granddaughter was 10% stronger after the two weeks. The enjoyment of their connection moments also improved throughout the experiment. For Sanne, she experienced a 30% increase in her enjoyment of connecting remotely. Hannie enjoyed the connection moments 10% more than before the study.

Overall, the study motivated them to try out new remote connection techniques beyond their typical once-a-week video call. This brought them excitement and new-found appreciation for each other.

Of course, though, getting used to a new app is not easy. Hannie still wants to spend more time exploring Peekabond to get more familiar with it. Being kind with yourself as you learn is part of the process!

From the whole Peekabond team, we want to thank Hannie, Nora and Sanne for exploring how Peekabond could work in their lives. ❤️

Next steps

We have since expanded this study to be one month long, for us to gain deeper insights throughout the process. More families are currently enrolled in the study, and we are always searching for more!

Want to get involved?

If your family would like to participate in a 2-week or 1-month study with Peekabond, please reach out to our user researcher Katy (katy@peekabond.com) to get started!

Join Us at Peekabond

Anieke Lamers, our CEO created Peakabond at the onset of Covid-19. A mobile app to help global families bond with young children remotely. Inspiring families to create playful and engaging moments with young children.

Asynchronous video connection and inspirational science-based content suggestions. Allowing families and loved ones to share small moments and build better bonds. Every play experience is designed with care and approved by child development experts. Always age appropriate. Always private and secure, never showing ads. Our intention is to build a movement that connects families across borders and over generations. To try storytelling activities at Peekabond go here. 

About Katy

Katy is an Amsterdam-based user researcher originally from the West Coast of the US. She is passionate about creating ethical and sustainable technology and believes in the power of user research to get there. She holds a Bachelor’s in Graphic Communication and a Master’s in Digital Design. You can usually find her taking long walks in the park, cooking big batches of soup, petting all the dogs on the street or making random crafts with friends.

How We Use Stories for Design at Peekabond

We Use Stories for Design at Peekabond by Katy Barnard

Design is a lot more than just making an app look pretty or making sure it functions properly. Actually, it is mostly about understanding people and stepping into their shoes to create something valuable for them. We use stories to help us do this.

Peekabond is used by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, great-grandparents, sisters, brothers, close family friends… All of these people experience the app differently and have unique wants and needs. Using user-centered design strategy, we step into their worlds and look at the app from their perspective. Their worlds are the stories, which are commonly known as user personas.

What are user personas?

User personas are archetypal descriptions of users used to represent and describe a demographic. They include fictional personal details such as a photo, name, job title, age, background story, personality traits, values, belief systems and quotes. All of these details build up a persona which can help us see the world from their perspective.

How do we create personas?

Back when Peekabond was just an idea, the team set out to understand their potential users through exploratory interviews. We asked people about their current experiences with staying connected to family far away, diving into the challenges and triumphs they’ve experienced. These interviews with families all around the globe gave us insight into who our potential users were, how they acted and what they valued (in relation to remote family connection, of course). They helped us shape the stories that became our user personas. And everytime we talk to new users, we get to know that persona even better.

Why do we use personas?

User personas allow us to think from the user’s point of view. By creating a fictitious yet research-based profile, we are able to better understand what decisions they might make and infer about how they might use Peekabond. Personas give us different lenses to view the app; they push us to think outside our own biases and adopt a new perspective.

When we make design decisions at Peekabond, we consult our personas to make sure that we are meeting their wants and needs in the app. For example, one of our grandmother’s biggest worries is that her grandkids will not remember her when they see each other in person. We kept this top of mind when creating the Peekabond concept, and it informed decisions like using video as the main messaging medium so that the grandkids get to both see her face and hear her voice and can replay it again and again. Another example is when we designed our onboarding flow, we made sure to show every step to help willing but cautious users of technology like our grandmother persona feel at ease. This persona also helps us understand how to reach this user group through marketing. If we are thinking about using TikTok to promote Peekabond, we know that our grandmother persona is likely not there.

User personas help us stay on track with our users, to make sure that we are, first and foremost, making choices for them!

Why should I care?

Firstly, we wanted to give you, our users, a peek behind the scenes at what it takes to build an app. At Peekabond, we are strong believers of what’s called “building in public”. This means that we are committed to sharing our learnings with the world so that others can learn from them as well. 

Secondly, we cannot do this without you! To grow in the right direction at Peekabond, we need to listen to our user’s stories and experiences to reach what’s called Product Market Fit, meaning that our product suits what our users really want. We are passionate about reaching this through user research.

If you want to help us in our process, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Sign up for our Facebook Group called Remote Family Club to keep in the loop of our progress. We often post questions in this group to ask our users for feedback. The group also provides inspiration and support from fellow families in your same situation.2.
  2. . Join a user interview. We are constantly testing our product with users and would love to interview you. We are always looking for grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and loved ones to give feedback on our product via a short video call. You can sign up for an interview using this link
  3. Join our ambassadors group. We have an intimate group of Peekabond superfans who get to test our newest features on an ongoing basis. If you want to be continuously involved in co-creating the app sign up here.

About Katy Barnard 

Katy is an Amsterdam-based user researcher originally from the West Coast of the US. She is passionate about creating ethical and sustainable technology and believes in the power of user research to get there. She holds a Bachelor’s in Graphic Communication and a Master’s in Digital Design. You can usually find her taking long walks in the park, cooking big batches of soup, petting all the dogs on the street or making random crafts with friends.

About Peekabond

Anieke Lamers, our CEO created Peakabond at the onset of Covid-19. A mobile app to help global families bond with young children remotely. Inspiring families to create playful and engaging moments with young children.

Asynchronous video connection and inspirational science-based content suggestions. Allowing families and loved ones to share small moments and build better bonds. Every play experience is designed with care and approved by child development experts. Always age appropriate. Always private and secure, never showing ads. Our intention is to build a movement that connects families across borders and over generations. To try storytelling activities at Peekabond go here. 

Testing is the Key to Creating an App that Users will Love by Katy Barnard

Testing is the Key to Creating an App that Users will Love

Developing an amazing app is a lot like creating the perfect cake recipe.

Maybe it’s too sweet? Use less sugar. Taste it. Mm, still not right.

Maybe it’s too dry? Try adding more milk. Give a piece to a friend. What do they think?

It takes constant testing until you find the exact recipe that people love.

At Peekabond, we are determined to create the perfect platform for families to make meaningful and lasting connections with little ones far away. This also takes a lot of testing. (But sadly, less cake).

What is user research?

User research is an essential part of the design process. It allows the team to test and validate or invalidate their design decisions. The user is at the center of this process. It is very important to talk to users about their experience with the app to ensure that we are designing something that works for them.

User research can take many forms such as video calls, surveys, screen captures… Using these different methods, we can understand how users use the app, where they get confused, what they like/don’t like and listen to their ideas for improvement.

How does user research work at Peekabond?

Step 1: Defining the experiment

Every user research endeavor begins with an experiment. These experiments are ideas that the Peekabond team comes up with or improvement suggestions from our users. Each new idea must be validated through user research before it goes into the app. And, once it’s in the app, we test it even more to make sure it is working well for our users.

Step 2: Finding users

Next, we need YOU! Recruiting current and future Peekabond users is the most important step, because without users there is no user testing. The only requirement to be a test user is to have experience with long-distance bonding with young children. You can be a parent trying to have your kids bond with their grandparents. You can be the grandparent trying to bond with your little loved ones. You can be an aunt, an uncle or a cousin. Or you can be a close family friend.

Step 3: Setting a time to meet

Typically, we use video calling for our user research at Peekabond. For each person that wants to participate, we send them a calendar link where they can pick a time that works for them. 

Step 4: Conducting the interview

Most interviews take around 30 minutes. During the call, our user researcher, Katy, asks the user questions relating to the experiment they are running and gives them prompts of things to do in the app.

For example, if the experiment is to understand users’ experience of adding a family member to their family circle in the app, Katy might ask the user to add her to their family circle and speak out loud about their process as they go. After the user completes the task, Katy will ask the user about what they found easy, difficult, clear and confusing.

Step 5: Analyzing the data

Each interview is full of rich data that can help us improve Peekabond. The key insights from the interviews are translated into proposed changes for the designer and the team to discuss.

How has user research helped us so far?

Thanks to the many users who have already given us their feedback through user interviews, we have been able to make valuable improvements to the Peekabond app.

For example, user research helped us discover and validate the family circles concept where users can connect their Peekabond account to the accounts of their family members for easy sharing. Another experiment helped us understand the central role of parents in long-distance bonding and build different onboarding flows for each type of family member. Many users have suggested to us that they want to be able to add filters and stickers to their videos to make them more fun, so that is something we are working on for the app now.

Every single interview brings great potential to help the app grow. The more we learn about our users and their experience with Peekabond, the better we can build an app that is useful and enjoyable for them.

Our goal is to know when we need to add some more sugar, when we should cut down on the flour and what color to dye the frosting. And for that, we need you to tell us what you think!

“It was great to be brought in early to see how the app is progressing and give feedback. I think parents have a lot of unique circumstances and ways they want to connect, and it’s good to know that Peekabond is developing with our feedback in mind.”
– Jason, parent
 
“My chat with Katy about the app was warm and friendly. She never made me feel like a fool for being so technologically daft. I hope the app in development goes well.”
– Sara, grandma
 
“I really felt appreciated as an app tester and it was a pleasure for me to be interviewed by Katy. It was a very good feeling to be treated as a member of Peekabond, and I’m fond of using this app.”
– Edith, grandma

 

Do you want to get involved?

Are you in a family where long-distance bonding with little ones is part of your routine? We’re always welcoming new test users to be part of our development family. If you’d like to participate please email katy@peekabond.com to learn more!