Design for Startups Success Story: Cognilab

Screenshot of Cognilab, courtesy of Jose Barrios.

This is part two of our ongoing series on participants in the Design for Startups Program. Design for Startups was developed by Living Labs at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and is supported by BCIC. The program pairs startups at Highline with Emily Carr designers. Learn more.  

In academia, the expression “Publish or perish” might be tongue-in-cheek, but it’s no joke.

“The more you can publish, the better a reputation you get, the higher you climb up the ladder and the more recognition you get from your peers,” says Jose Barrios, co-founder and CEO at Cognilab.

Victoria-based Cognilab is an online research platform for academics. It allows researchers to recruit study participants online, and makes it easier to analyze the centralized data. This dramatically reduces the time spent on studies, allowing academics to publish more frequently. 

The Situation

While Cognilab has a powerful and quickly growing platform, they found the tools on their dashboard weren’t being fully used. “Everything worked, but it wasn’t very intuitive,” says Jose.

“The dashboard is actually the central piece of Cognilab. That’s where you control your entire research cycle, see all your experiments going at once, create or edit experiments and see your results. So this is where researchers will spend a lot of time.”

The Student

Joyce Lam, photo courtesy of Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Cognilab hired Joyce Lam to help improve their dashboard. Joyce was studying in the Master of Digital Media program at EmilyCarr. She’s also a graduate from the Bachelor of Communication Design program at EmilyCarrUniversity. Joyce worked with Cognilab for 12 weeks in her last semester of the program.

Although they had worked with students in the past, Jose says this was by far the best experience.

“All of the students we’ve worked with have been great, but the quality of this particular student that we had the pleasure of working with was incredible.”

The Solution

Jose and the team at Cognilab were impressed by Joyce’s approach to this project. In addition to interviewing current users of Cognilab, she approached others in academia who had not used Cognilab before. She got a fresh perspective and feedback on how the dashboard could be improved.

“She didn’t just try to make it look pretty. What we liked about Joyce is she really wanted to understand how the entire process worked—inside and outside the dashboard. … She was able to nail down how the dashboard needed to be redesigned. The one we have now is unbelievably better than anything we could have come up with.”

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