Rethinking content for a key audience pays off​

Empowering Microsoft to deeply understand pain points and motivational triggers

The Story

Microsoft needed a new strategy for enhancing engagement with its audience. Was their content working? What had changed in the community they should support? What did people need?

Microsoft had exhausted every other type of research: Surveys, Phone intercepts, focus groups…but the one area they had not tried was UX Research. Determined to get the right content to their multi-channel audiences using UX research, Microsoft hired Experience Dynamics.

The Challenge​

Microsoft wanted to see where their current multi-channel content was missing the mark (website, conferences, a magazine, and more). Microsoft had learned a few things from their prior surveys and focus groups, but they realized that their content was as much a UX issue as a “what do you like?” question.  Reporting directly to Microsoft’s CTO, the Senior Director of Technical Strategy in charge of the project wanted to know who the users were, what issues they were truly dealing with, and how best to support them with cross-channel content that was meaningful to them.

The Turning Point​

Reaching the audience was half the challenge. This is mainly because Microsoft called their users by titles that matched how they thought about them, not how actual users called themselves. Once we realized that Enterprise Architects struggled with the job titles in their organizations and that they were basically Senior Developers, finding them became easier.

The Execution


We conducted user interviews in San Francisco, New York, Portland, India, the UK, and Sweden with 36 architects in their native environments. The research aimed at empathizing with the needs and goals as well as the current pain points of architects. In addition, we conducted an online survey with 403 architects globally to get their input.




The leadership is delighted with the results of this study. The results were so thorough– and meticulous– that we can only humbly conclude there was something wrong with the way we were seeing our users and their needs.

-Simon Guest

Sr. Director of Technical Strategy, Microsoft

The Result

The user research revealed that software architects were crying out for social networking, best practice sharing. Furthermore Microsoft initially was so shocked by the innovation suggested by the findings, there was internal disbelief. After a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (veteran with 25 years experience) analyzed the results, they concluded that Microsoft had been seeing their audience through rose colored lenses. The data was empirical, the findings spoke for themselves. As a result of the study Microsoft was able to understand user needs in a new way.

The report had a tremendous impact on content strategy for engaging their audience across all channels.

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