Small Improvements Pulse Survey

Pulse Surveys

Small Improvements is a SaaS platform for performance management and employee feedback, focusing mostly on qualitative feedback.

Pulse Surveys are short and frequent employee engagement surveys. This module was recently added to Small Improvements as part of the Engagement and Retention add-on. I lead product research and design for this feature.

From Hack Time to Stakeholder Management

At Small Improvements, every team member can dedicate a part of their time to explore their own ideas and initiatives that might become future products or modules. Sebastian Herrmann, a talented full-stack developer, presented his idea for a personal Mood Tracker.

This idea generated some excitement among management, but Mood Tracking didn't match any of our previous market or user research.

Mood Tracker Prototype Built by a Small Improvements Developer

To confirm this, we conducted interviews and shared the prototype with select customers, where the topic of Pulse Surveys appeared, and we were able to show management and the company that this would be the way to proceed.

By reusing the components from the initial prototype, we designed a new prototype for Pulse Surveys. The development team adapted the original prototype in a matter of days, and published it to a private test environment, and invited a larger number of customers to alpha-test the concept.

The research Prototype adapted the original components for a cost-efficient testing

Because most of our customers are in a different timezone, we ran these as unmoderated remote interviews and tests. This allowed us quickly gather feedback and understand user needs and expectations for the feature.

The interviews and tests gave us a trove of insights on what we could keep and what needed to change before releasing the feature, and they further reassured decision makers that we were on the right track.

Screenshot of the spreadsheet containing our research insights

Iterating forward

The feature is composed of three parts:

  • The survey creator wizard, including a questionnaire editor
  • An HR Dashboard that dosplays analytics about the survey
  • An employee-facing questionnaire interface for answering

A major goal for the survey builder was to make it fast and easy to use for novices but and powerful for experts. Our research showed that time-constrained or inexperienced HRs want the software to tell what to do, while experienced HRs at larger orgs want flexibility to customize their survey to their culture.

This philosophy is reflected in features like pre-packaged templates with common survey formats and topics – that can be easily customized or mixed and matched, as well as pre-defined frequency choices that hide a more advanced UI that enables HR to set up complex scheduling options.

The survey creation wizard showing the 5 pre-packaged templates
The survey questionnaire builder

A detailed view of the survey frequency controls

The Analytics dashboard gives HR a broad view of their survey results and participation, while also giving them the possibility to drill down by question and filter the data by different parameters such as department, location, manager and others.

The results chart and per-question analyses adapt to different use cases, with specific visualizations for one-off or time-based surveys.

Analytics dashboard for a single non-repeating survey
Analytics dashboard for a survey repeating every 2 weeks


The Pulse Surveys feature was released in June 2020 as part of an add-on to the standard Small Improvements subscription. During the first 1-month trial period, customer feedback has been positive and a significant percentage of trials are already converting into paying customers.