Announcing Maze

By Sarah Catanzaro

In her 2014 Internet Trends Report, Mary Meeker included a slide entitled “RIP Bad User Interfaces” to capture the integral role of product design in company growth. Since then, as design-driven companies continue to outperform industry benchmarks, design budgets have ballooned. In this context, design tools startups, like Abstract, Figma, Invision, and Sketch have attracted thousands of users and millions of venture dollars.

While these tools have enabled radically better experiences for designers and their colleagues, design is more than just illustrating and prototyping. In fact, user research is an integral part of the design process since, without a deep understanding of customers and insights into their workflows, designers cannot create great products.

Nonetheless, although designers, product managers and other stakeholders agree that user research drastically improves the quality of design and makes product development more efficient, most organizations do not conduct user testing as frequently as desired. This is because user testing is too tedious and cost-prohibitive for many companies - it can cost $3,000-$5,000 and takes nearly 40 hours to run a usability test.

Like their counterparts in product and engineering, designers want to become more data-driven and agile, but their tools are limiting them.

Maze changes that.

The Maze team believes that data should be at the center of any conversation about design and so they’ve developed a user testing and research platform that enables designers to transform prototypes into actionable insights in minutes. Maze makes it fast, easy, and cost-efficient to collect user feedback during the design phase and beyond; and iterate quickly and effectively until a design is proven.

We invested in Maze because it will transform product design and development; it will engender a world in which designers have data and insights at every step of the design process from ideation through handoff. Already, Maze is automating essential parts of user research; enabling tester recruitment at scale, replacing moderated sessions with unmoderated tests, and delivering qualitative and quantitative insights. And there’s more to come - in fact, today, they’re releasing support for Figma prototypes.

Executing such a daring vision requires both boldness and empathy - something that Maze founders Jonathan Widawski and Thomas Mary have in spades. In previous design and development roles, Jonathan and Thomas often found that they needed data to make design decisions, but couldn’t afford to watch hours of video footage from online user interviews to extract insights. Instead of giving up after finding no solution to address this problem, they built their own. Less than two years later, they now have thousands of designers from companies like BMW, IBM, and Yelp using their platform. Jonathan and Thomas embody our ideal of the “Amplify founder” - someone who lived through a problem and developed a cutting edge solution to fix it.

This is just the beginning; both for Maze and for an era wherein designers have the right tools to build the right products. We’re so excited to be part of this journey as investors in Maze.