AJ Griffies

Small/Medium Business Study

Background Information

I started working at Lenovo in May 2018 on the Global eCommerce UX Team. One of the teams I worked directly with was the Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) team.

I was the primary UX researcher working with this team. For this particular study, the team came to me asking to conduct a simple study on what SMBs would want from a specific page on the site. After further discussion and re-framing of the request, it became clear that the root issue was that we needed to understand SMBs' technology needs. There was some research already done on the subject, but it was narrow in scope.


I wanted to understand SMB users' technology needs, requirements for technology, and purchasing process. In addition, I needed to uncover what they wanted in a specific type of page.


First, we started by surveying the existing user base of SMBs. This gave us an idea of overall user needs and also gave us information on the types of businesses that were already members of our site.

From there, we reached out to a selection of users for one-on-one interviews. For this part, we used a method that was a mixture of a remote moderated interview, a card sort, and a participatory design study. I ran these sessions with over a dozen users from businesses that ranged in size from having only one employee to having hundreds.

These interviews were structured as follows:

1. Introduction to the session (~3-5 minutes)
Information about what to expect from the session.

2. General questions about the user and their business (~10 minutes)
Getting a sense of what the user's business is like, how big it is, what the user does there, etc.

3. Questions about how the user makes tech purchasing decisions for their business (~10 to 15 minutes)
Better understanding the user's tech savviness, how they make decisions, what their business' tech needs are, etc.

4. Participatory design/card sort activity (~25 minutes)
This was done in PowerPoint via a Zoom screen share that allowed the user to control my mouse and keyboard remotely to drag and drop items around on the screen.
The PowerPoint slide was split, with half of the page representing a specific page on the website and the other half containing approx. 15 cards that represented features or other items the SMB team was considering putting on this page. Users could also write-in their own features and wants for the page on cards. (See below for a representation of what this looked like)
Users then dragged and dropped the cards from the features side of the page over to the side representing their personalized SMB page. As they did so, I asked them questions about why they wanted specific features and how those features related to their business' needs. At the end of the session, I asked them about the cards that they hadn't added to their "page" and why they remained. This gave us an idea of the actual tech needs and issues these users faced and how we could address them within our design work.

Example of Participatory Design Activity PowerPoint Slide

A powerpoint slide with options for the user to select that correspond to proposed site features

My Role in this Project

Another UX Researcher helped me flesh out the plan for this project. I ran the study myself, analyzed the results, and presented my report on the study to the team. The SMB team and UX team both sat in on a number of my interviews with SMBs, and this built a culture of user focus and empathy among the SMB team members.


After presenting the report to the team, we decided to create a "case study" write-up for each SMB user I interviewed for the team. These one-page summaries elaborated on each user, their needs, their tech buying process, and contained demographic information about their businesses. These case studies were evangelized throughout the company and helped anyone working with SMBs better understand the variety of types of SMB user. The SMB team was able to better understand and empathize with the full range of their user base, which carried them well into future projects.


If I had this project to do over again, I would've been more careful with recruiting so that we got an even wider variety of SMBs from different industries, backgrounds, and with varying sized companies. Even though we ended up with a lot of very different users, this was not entirely planned for. I think that if we had set out to talk to a variety of different SMBs from the beginning, we would've obtained richer data and better case studies.