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Twenty minutes with your customers


WooCommerce is the most popular way to run a store on WordPress. Because of the nature of WordPress, we don’t have a way to see how people are using WooCommerce like we could if we were hosting the software, but that’s the beauty of open source. We’ve found the best way to learn more about our customers and the way they use WooCommerce is to actually have a conversation with them.

Last week we held WooConf, our annual conference dedicated to everything WooCommerce. People from all over the world came to Seattle to learn, present, and discuss all things WooCommerce. Being the WooCommerce design team at Automattic, we decided to run a Product Research Lab, lead by our user research wrangler, Maria. Six of us broke up into three groups; in my group, I was the interviewer and Justin was the notetaker.

Conference attendees had the opportunity to sign up for a twenty minute session with us during the conference. Our group met with fourteen people over two days.

The structure

We structured our twenty minute session into three parts and for the most part, kept this format the same for each and every session.


When the customer walked in, we introduced ourselves and asked them to take a seat in front of the computer. We then gave them a heads up of how the session would be structured, and said, “Today we’d like to learn more about your experience with WooCommerce. We’ll then ask you to walk through the onboarding wizard, which is the first thing you encounter when activating WooCommerce on your WordPress site. We’ll then wrap up with a few last questions. Sound good?”

  • Okay, great! Before we get going, can I have your permission to record our session so we can reference after we’re done here?
  • [Start recording]
  • Okay, we’ve started recording now. We have a few questions to ask to get started.

Justin would then start the timer so we would stay on track. We then asked each of the participants the following questions:

  • First, can you tell us a little about yourself; who you are and how you work with WooCommerce?
  • Can you tell us more about your role?
  • Can you tell us more about the your favorite site you worked on? Why did you list this one as your favorite?
  • Have you worked with any other eCommerce platforms in the past, if so what was your experience?

User test

At this point we are about five minutes in and are ready to move on to the user testing portion of the session. We transition to the computer, which is still in front of the interviewee and guide them to the next steps by saying, “Okay great! We’re going to switch gears a bit now, we’d like to learn more about your experience with setting up WooCommerce for the first time on a new site.”

  • Are you familiar with the WooCommerce wizard?
  • Scenario: Today we’ve setup a new WordPress site with WooCommerce installed. We’d like to watch you complete the initial setup, which is what we call the wizard and ask that you talk out loud as you are doing that. Tell us what you’re seeing and your thoughts about each step along the way.
  • Your goal: Your goal is to complete the WooCommerce Wizard setup as if you were building [your site or the last site you built]. Let’s get started.

Once the interviewee has completed the onboarding flow we’d ask:

  • Now that you’ve completed setup, what would your next step be?
  • Okay! Thank you for walking through that. That was really helpful and we’ll be able to improve this experience in the future.

Wrap up

At this point we are anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes in. We’d lead into the end of the session by saying, “Looks like we have about a few minutes left, I want to be mindful of time so we can be sure to end on time so you can get back to the conference. We just have a few more questions for you.”

  • Overall, how would you describe your experience with WooCommerce?
  • If you could change or add one thing in WooCommerce what would it be and why
  • Is there anything else you think we should know?

“Thank you very much for taking time to talk to us today, We really appreciate it. If you’re interested we will be sending a follow up email where you can sign up for additional research opportunities with us, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.”

We would then stop the recording, shake the interviewee’s hand, and wait until they left before resetting the site in preparation for the next session!

The take away

I went into this not knowing quite what to expect. Was twenty minutes enough time? Was it too much time? What if the interviewees came into the sessions with a litany of complaints about WooCommerce? Will we learn anything?

Yes! Of course we learned something. We learned so much. Personally, I loved every minute of it and cannot wait to do it again. When we got home, we analyzed our notes for patterns and tracked each issue to be prioritized for a future project cycle. These problems felt real, because they were; we had witnessed it first hand.

There’s something about meeting with customers in real life that is incredibility enlightening. There was this one particular step that tripped almost everyone up. Okay, there was more than one, but the first time I recognized a pattern I remember just cringing after the next person was about to get to it. I just wanted to fix it right then and there! And that’s really the best part of this entire experience. We learned in twenty minute what we’d never learn sitting in our desks at home with our heads down in the code.

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