A 1-Day Rapid Brand and Usability "Lab" for a early-Stage Startup's MVP

with Into.


Research design
Lab setup
Interview and test moderation


Conducted an intensive one-day UX, usability, and value proposition lab for a startup with an app that aims to make it easier for consumers to connect with ethical brands at the point of purchase.


INTO is an early-stage startup that aimes to help consumers make better decisions about which brands to purchase at the point of sale, via an app that conveys information and stories from the brands about ingredients, sustainability, origins, and producers (like farmers). While their concept tested well with pilot partner brands, and their app functioned on a technical level, they had not yet conducted usability, UX, concept, or value proposition testing with consumers, and only had ‘best guesses’ about whether (and why) a consumer would be willing to use their app in-store.


Designed a 1-day ‘usability lab’, including ethnographic interviewing, concept, usability, and value proposition testing in each hour-long session.

Value propositions

The client team primarily asked for a test of their prototype usability and app user experience, but hadn't to date conducted any value proposition or concept resonance testing outside of friends and family. I recommended we try and fit some value prop explorations into the hourlong sessions, and recruit a wider range of participants, and wrote four variants of value proposition copy to test, each targeting different values.

Testing and Recommendations

We recruited participants from the surrounding area using simple incentives and craigslist ads. I moderated six sessions across a range of ages and familiarity with 'ethical' brands, then synthesized insights into concrete UI and brand recommendations.


  • On this short engagement, I got to play the role of ‘a fresh set of eyes’ for a small and dedicated team. I have the feeling that many bootstrapped teams sometimes can benefit from an external voice or perspective to check assumptions and designs that the team may not have had the resources to examine, or have been overlooked through the (entirely normal) process of laser-focus on certain strategic objectives.
  • Getting to set up and run a ‘1-day lab’ was a fun experience. While I usually fly the flag of deep and research-led innovation processes, I also feel that is a time and place for dedicated research phases, and a time and place to simply try covering a lot of ground in a short period of time — for teams who don’t have the resources to do so.
  • We identified several high-priority usability fixes that could have become ‘show-stoppers’ for consumers using the app, and dozens more design choices that we recommended should be reworked for a smoother user experience.