User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.
Rodrigo Esch
UX Lead at Oi
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User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.

How we used deep user interviewing to come up with a product strategy for the future of the biggest colombian newspaper media group.


As a UX/Interaction Designer working at the Latin America division at Huge, I had the opportunity to be part of a big project to a colombian client. 

This client, Periodicos Asociados, happens to be one of the largest media groups in Latin America, with newspapers in 4 different colombian cities.

Our team job was to create a product strategy for them, starting from their classifieds sites, and as we researched and learned more about their business and the colombian average shopper behaviour, we had to provide a clear digital strategic vision for the group as the final deliverable.

This project could result in a completely new market position for them. It should be a new company.


Create a product that connects offer and demand, based on users needs.

They want a completely new approach to their classifieds business. From the overall metrics presented, we saw that in fact their digital side of the business were in stagnation. Along with that, this very traditional group wanted to go deep into the digital world leaving conservative ideas behind. After all, 90% of their revenue comes from ofline business (print publishing).

My job, as a UX designer along with the business strategy team, was to plan, collect and analyse all the information we had from our desk research and the interviews we made with stakeholders and users.

Here's how we handled the project:

User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.
Stakeholder Interviews.

This step was absolutely crucial as we started the project from the scratch.

In order to understand the goals and visions of the project stakeholders and their expectations,  we interviewed all the CEOs and general managers of the four newspapers, in 4 different colombian cities, and some of the IT managers as well.

We took notes during the interviews, following a script we had to make sure we were not leaving anything that we wanted to know behind. After the interviews, we compile all the findings and interesting quotes from them in a spreadsheet.

And later, in a meeting with all the same stakeholders in the same table, we presented to them as a formal presentation what they as a group, were thinking about the project before the start.

It was really interesting to see their reactions to the opinions of other executives.
User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.

We've dived into the world of classifieds business and the so called "on demand economy", to gather ideas and have a deep understanding of what was the state of their classifieds sites and what we could do to disrupt the colombian marketing with innovation.

We found some great products like the "uber for food" Rappi being developed in Colombia at the same time, taking advantage of their young mobile heavy user population.
User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.

Desk Research

Our business strategy team researched the state of colombian market, their government rules about creating new business, economic opportunities and more.

We validated our feeling that Colombia is a country ready to some serious digital innovation. 45% of colombians have a smartphone (best in latin america), and 12 millions of colombians got out from poverty in the last 10 years, forming a new audience for digital on demand services.

User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.

Site Survey.

We published a small user survey on the classifieds sites of the group to gather some knowledge about the users before we make the recruiting for the interviews

User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.
User Interviews

Based on the clients classifieds sites, we had several user profiles to study:

  • Buyers/renters (houses, cars, services, jobs, assorted products);
  • Sellers/tenants (houses, cars,services, jobs, assorted products).
  • Our tour in Colombia. 5 cities in 5 weeks.
  • Our tour in Colombia. 5 cities in 5 weeks.

More about the User Interview process.

As we wanted to really know these users pain points, needs and jobs to be done, we arranged 50 interviews in 5 colombian cities (Bogotá (the capital and the biggest city), Cali, Medellín, Bucaramanga and Cartagena. Except for Bogotá, our client is present in all of theses cities mentioned. 50 interviews is a big number indeed, but it was important as we wanted to understand what all these profiles (buyers and sellers) have in common, and identify gaps to bring innovation and distrupt the market.

User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.

What we wanted to know

  • Users shopping behaviour (how they feel about buying on the internet, security concerns, what they think about buying used products, etc);
  • What channels do they use to sell or buy different kinds of products and services (Facebook, OLX, niche sites, etc);
  • Their perception about our clients brands and competitors brands, as well as tech companies like Uber and Airbnb.

With that in mind, we created a script, to not only build some activities, but to format the questions as well.

Photo on the left: our script and interview plan.

User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.

This document really helped us to build or screener as well. The screener helped the people from our partner agency in Colombia to do the user recruiting.

Photo on the right: An example of a user recruiting screener we used as a reference.

Our interview sessions took something like an hour, and all run pretty well with:

  • 1 person conducting the interview based on the script (an anthropologist, who speaks spanish natively);
  • 1 person taking notes based on facts (not having any conclusion, just documenting facts);
  • 1 person listening to the user with a critical view, analysing all the material and documenting the findings (me).

As we were dealing with 2 interviews per day, it was crucial that we could process all the knowledge that we were extracting from the users quickly and assertively, without any noises. It's important to notice that with all the challenges presented, we had the language and cultural barrier along with that, since half the team involved were brazilians and portuguese speaking natives (me included). So, the help from our partner agency was fundamental in the process.

We extracted 70 hours of interviews documenting findings by themesPhoto below shows the themes spreadsheet. Classifying every finding helped us to know what were the common pain points between the users.

User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.

And the fun begins: We analyse all the knowledge in our value proposition design sessions, mapping users pains, gains and main tasks in each customer segment:

User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.

Findings and conclusions.

User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.

We found the main values that are important to online users in Colombia:

  • Security
  • Trust
  • 1:1 Communication

The new product should be excellent in all of these 3 aspects. Colombians have a serious trust issue not only buying used products in a classifieds site, but also to buy new products and services online, specially from other colombians. To be sure they would not being scammed or robbed, they always prefer talk directly to people on the other side, and get a sense of trust from an direct contact.

They choose channels which offer them the opportunity to know people, like Whatsapp.

We found out that they have a tendency to trust big and well know brands too.

After a lot of analysis and discussions with our strategy team, we finally came to a conclusion in which the renting business was the one that should be disrupted in that country. Colombia is the number 1 house renting country in latin america. 80% of population lives in renting houses, and almost all of the users had a problem with tenants or housing companies.

So, we proposed a product that connects people that want to rent and people looking for places to rent, with a services layer in the middle of them providing extra value to users, something that we identified as an opportunity during the users interviews.

User Research Case: Periodicos Asociados.


After all the product strategy and vision presentation, we presented a roadmap to the client with all the required functionalities to build a MVP.

Note: On the left, from the project's presentation deck.

Key Learnings and Takeaways

This project definitely proved to me the importance of deeply understand the users pains, needs and motivations before build anything.

Not every project needs 50 interviews obviously, but taking some time to dive into the users minds and extract that knowledge in a way that makes sure everyone on the team is aligned with what users want, can really make a positive impact on the success of a product.

The project in numbers.

Hours of user interviews
User interviews made
Colombian cities
Product Vision

Dear Rodrigo Esch,