Growth — User Research, Usability Testing, and Journey Development

Apr 2022


At Sabbar, we had a blue-collar job marketplace in the F&B, Retail, and Hospitality industries where employers can search for, hire, and manage their employees directly in the platform. We were a one-stop shop for recruitment and operations. However, we couldn’t bring in customers fast enough, and we couldn’t keep them happy in the employer app, no matter how many product enhancements we did.


Due to multiple failed attempts in growing and maintaining our growth, we decided to take things a few steps back. We wanted to dig deeper to understand our customers, and revisit everything; from our business model and positioning, to our app journey and layout.

I had the role of working closely with the Product lead to research and form a better understanding of our current and future customer base and their needs.


This wasn’t a straight-forward process because of its fundamental nature. I just joined the Product team at the time, so I approached it by doing a little bit of everything to pinpoint the source of the problem.

1) User Research: Interviews + Surveys

Even though it looked like we’re starting from scratch. We didn’t. We had an existing, unreleased solution done before I join the Product team. We knew it’s not it, but we decided to use it as a starting point for our discussion with customers.

I planned and prepared a 3-part interview that included:

  • Pain assessment questions —> to understand if we’re addressing their needs properly.
  • Card sorting activity —> to understand if the current product structure is fit for their needs.
  • Usability testing of the new, unreleased product enhancement —> to gain more insights on our journey-building mindset that could be applied to future releases.

I met with 10 customers (in person and online) that were either HR agents or Operation Managers to discuss the points above.

I also helped the Chief of Staff to send a mass survey to existing and new customers that addresses similar points.

2) Research Analysis

After the interviews, I analyzed the survey results, and quantified the interview results. I did this by identifying all the problems mentioned by customers during the interviews, and categorizing them into:

  • Fundamental: the company’s positioning, value proposition, or business model.
  • Structural: how the app information and data are structured.
  • UX: app journey issues, including content.
  • UI: issues in the app layout, colors, buttons, etc.

Then, I:

  • Counted how many times a customer mentioned each problem.
  • Determined how urgent each problem was.
  • Finally, I assigned a priority value to each problem based on their respective frequency and urgency, as well as their category. A simple UI problem that doesn't affect the main journey flow is definitely a lower priority than a structural problem that makes the journey incomprehensible.

3) Brainstorming Sessions with a Multi-Disciplinary Team

I gathered a team with representatives from Sales, Product, Marketing, and Customer Success along with the Chief of Staff. I presented the findings, and we worked on creating the current customer journey, and comparing it to the status quo according to our research.

We came to the following conclusions:

  • Customers were mostly happy about ONE thing in our platform — the high quality applicants, and the visibility of their information in the platform. Given that they usually manage applicants traditionally via emails, and manually sort through and vet resumes, this is the feature that was driving their initial interest. Saving their time was valuable, and having access to a large network of potential applicants meant that hiring the perfect employee is much more likely compared to their current approach!
  • Managing employees within the platform was an extremely foreign concept, and had a complicated process compared to the status quo. This feature was solving a problem that doesn’t actually exist in this premature market, and it was giving us an unnecessary operational headache that was difficult to manage.
  • Our value propositions were centered around gig work. Hence, the focus on employee management. However, most employers valued full-time contracts, leading to an excessive amount of employee leakage from the platform. Employers were resorting to hiring employees fulltime outside of the platform. Now, if employers want full-time employees, and employees don't mind the stability and consistent income that come with it, what are we doing exactly?

These, along with the app journey being extremely confusing and difficult to use, required a major re-haul.


After a few (ok maybe a lot) of discussions with the team and my manager, we decided that the following changes would create a much better product that would serve customers' needs effectively.

  • Dismantle the employee management feature, and only focus on the "hiring" part.
  • Create an advanced applicant-matching engine (historic data and the card sorting activity came in handy here!)

Our main value proposition should not be a one-stop shop for employers, but rather a quality matching engine that allows HR agents to do their job efficiently. This required app data restructuring, repositioning, and changing the business model.

After laying the requirements for the pivot, me and the team started benchmarking to understand what other job platforms are present locally and globally, and how they addressed the problems we faced during the journey development. I gathered all of the notes and screenshots in FigJam for better accessibility and potential collaboration with the team. Then, I worked on restructuring the app with a new Information Architecture to fit the new model, and sketched out a new, high-level journey to be handed over to the Product Manager and Designer for execution!


What a journey it has been.. I learned that when things don't seem to fit in place, stop trying to push it on customers! Always take a few steps back, and reassess. So far, there seem to be much more positive feedback from customers, and the journey has been simplified; leading to a higher conversion rate!