Doing user research in a toy company.

UX research internship in Pai

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OCT-JAN, 2018

(3 months)


Phone call interview,

Contextual inquiry,

Usability testing


Ruixiao Zhang(User research director),

Ying Cheng(Senior user researcher),

Yifei Liu(Senior user researcher),

Jian Cui(User researcher),

Xiaomei Tang(User researcher)


Let's teach kids coding.

Pai technology is a toy company that use latest technology help kids grow, develop, and play.

Last year, I joined Pai as an UX research intern. During the 3 months internship, I mainly worked for the iteration of the iPad app of Botzees.

Botzees is a set of programmable smart blocks. Children can build these blocks into different animals, as well as controling and programming it using an app.


Usability testing

Let usability testing drive the direction of product iteration.

The iteration of botzees was very intensive in a weekly basis : we do user testing in the weekends and have the new prototype out before the next weekend.

Usability testing was directly driving the iteration of product design because every element we adult take for granted - button, slider, setting icon, back icon… may not make sense through a child’s fresh eyes. Thus, everything need to be tested.

Here is an example of how we iterated the coding guidance part(on the right side of the screen)

iteration of guidance
Contextual inquiry

Always involve the PMs and designers in.

We do contextual inquiries at the beginning stage of product development. We visit voluntary families who have children in the age range of our target customers, observe what toy the child has, and find out the family’s daily routine.

The most effective contextual inquiries are always those PMs and designers involved in.

I consider the user research report’s function as creating a shared ground, instead of inform decision-makers about the ‘findings’.
When making research reports, we distill our findings into words and diagrams, which indeed is impressive, but also bring meaning out of the context. 

decision makers
Cold call interview

Sound like you’re curious, thoughtful and most importantly, relax.

My very first job was doing cold calls to gather feedback from customers. After sitting in a small booth for two weeks, I was able to discern there are three types of customers:

  1. customers who are eager to dump tons of high-quality feedback.
  2. customers who don’t want to be bothered at that moment.
  3. customers who have time to do the feedback, but not as initiative as the first type of customers.

The first two types of situations are easy to deal with, but the third type an be very tricky. It’s also the most interesting one because what feedback they would give really depends on your skill of interview. After observed my mentor doing cold calls, I found some tricks:

  • Mention the reimbursement(20RMB for 10 minutes) at very first, and confirm it at the end.
  • Don’t sound like an emotionless machine(like most customer service person would do). Sound like you’re curious, thoughtful and most importantly, relax.

For further secrets of cold calls, check this movie: sorry to bother you


Designing for parents participation

The most frequent feedback we hear is: ‘my boy’s interest in your toy only last for one week.’ and what often comes together with this feedback is expectation like this: ‘Once I buy that toys for my boy, he will stop bothering me and play by himself.’


Parents' participation is way more important than the toy itself. So when designing for children, always remember to leave some space that children must seek help from others.

parents engage

Tiktok, Tiktok and Tiktok

In some of our contextual inquiries, we’ve observed kids playing Tiktok and parents commented that Tiktok is better than toys. The kid will fully focus on the screen without making any noise or requirement, so parents can have some quiet time do their own thing.

It’s not a completely bad thing…though. Kid watching Tiktok is obviously more willing to express because human learn through imitating and Tiktok have tons of things to imitate from. But the bad part is,

  1. they’re harder to focus on weaker stimulations like study and reading.
  2. It strips parents' participation away from children.

We may blame Tiktok to be so addictive, but it also gives many ordinary people a tool to create and a chance to be seen. When people in the future look back, they can not only see the 1% rich and powerful people but also the rest 99% ordinary life.

We may blame parents for being so irresponsible, but since when raising a kid becomes a life-exchange game where parents have to trade their free time with their kid's better future?

My feeling about technology has never been so complicated. There are so many facts colliding with each other that I can't even find a point to stand with.

Thanks for scrolling! next project ->