Meet Our Team: Chris Rader

Chris Rader Portrait Photo

Chris Rader is a Centercode superhero who, to our community, largely operates in the shadows. He doesn’t interact with our beta testers directly, but he does collaborate with our clients to interpret their beta test data, conduct market and user research, help design tester surveys, and dream up creative product solutions for the Centercode team. Chris’ superpower is his ability to solve complex problems by using client or tester data to paint a picture explaining why or how. On a more personal level, Chris enjoys movies, smart home products, and going to Disneyland. Here’s a deeper dive into this key member of our team and how his work as a Product Designer impacts our community.

For starters, can you talk a little bit about your background and how you came to work at Centercode?
I’ve always been interested in technology. Before this position, I worked at Western Digital as a QA technician [tester]. There, I got involved in research. I read one book, then another, and soon enough well-over ten books on market and user research techniques and strategies. At Western Digital, I migrated to their research team where we were doing two user research studies a week.

I then met Centercode’s CEO and, long story short, started as a market researcher on their marketing team. I helped with the company’s market research, conducted Betabound community surveys, etc. Now, I’m on Centercode’s research team where we create the frameworks for future alpha tests, field tests, comparative surveys, and more. For example, I’m building our in-office usability testing room right now! Our company sees beta testers as investments, so we’re working to improve their experiences with us by creating easier feedback channels, which ultimately pleases our clients.

Can you briefly explain your role and your team’s responsibilities?
As Centercode’s Product Designer and member of the research team, there are two key parts of my job. As a product designer, I help design Centercode’s product offerings by analyzing their current performance to create new product lines that cater to all aspects of customer validation process. Then, I’m also a market researcher where I look at different industries, and ultimately justify the power of beta testers.

What exactly is market research and product design, and how are they involved in the beta testing process?
Market research is an investigation of user behaviors and attitudes with products. We’re really trying to see what [tech] people are using, why people are using it, how they’re using it, and whether or not they’re happy with it.

Product design is taking users’ needs and creating products that are solutions. The design part of it is creating framework processes around getting answers to those problems. It’s determining what sort of test you need to run, who your ideal tester is, and justifying the “why”. Then, you get feedback from testers and make adjustments as you go.

Beta testing is in the field of customer validation. Customer validation is a discipline similar to user research and market research that is used to validate product design with customers and gather their feedback to make better designs. Market research puts contexts to things, whereas beta testing gathers feedback in-context. For example, market research creates context by telling us who is most likely to buy a smart TV, whereas beta testing’s context gives us customer feedback relating that research to the smart TV product itself.

What makes a good survey, and how do you go about crafting one?
A good survey is one that achieves a client’s objectives. When creating a survey, I always have a hypothesis — or prediction of what I think the survey’s results will reveal. I then craft questions in a way that reduces variables and increases a survey’s validity. A good survey is one that avoids questions that give biased answers. For example, a rating scale of “it was ok” to “it was amazing!” would have misbalanced anchors [either side of the rating scale]. A double-barreled question with misbalanced anchors will give you biased, not valuable answers. Also, short surveys are always good since longer surveys tend to wear people out — which can have a negative impact on the data collected.

Why are surveys so important in a beta test?
Surveys are a perception of a tester’s attitude. Surveys are all about what testers are saying about a product, not just what they’re doing with the product. Analytics are very behavior based, whereas, surveys are about product experiences that are subjective to you — the user. That’s the data I care the most about in sharing insights with our clients.

What advice do you have for beta testers filling out surveys?
Be honest. Whenever I bring a tester into our offices, I want their honest feedback. I make sure to level-set with testers that I want them to be blunt with us because we’re all grown-ups, and that their feedback won’t hurt my or our clients’ feelings. As a tester, there is nothing wrong you can do when you’re providing honest feedback. Feedback gives us context on a product’s data. Without feedback, we can’t spot trends. A trend is multiple responses that relate to the same product issue, praise point, product feature, etc. Without honest feedback, we can’t detect trends that ultimately help a product team develop their best possible product.

What is the best part about your job?
The creativity! I get thrown multiple problems every day, and I get to come up with creative solutions to them. I look at real-world user needs and I propose solutions [products] to them. The same holds true for the research side of my job. I get to help products solve those real-world problems for real people.

For example, I’m working on designing field tests, which are meant to get new testers into our beta tests. So we’re creating more opportunities at different timeframes in a product’s development that will require different types of beta testers. Field tests happen after beta tests. So, if Betabounders want to start building up their experience, they should keep applying to and participating in our beta tests (especially public Betabound Exclusives).

What tech product are you most excited about right now?
The Nanoleaf Aurora! I love smart home stuff. I have 15 Philips Hue smart lights, four Arlo cameras, and an Amazon Echo and Echo Dot. I’m the tech guy for my whole family, and I’m most excited about the customization the Aurora brings to my home. Smart home products just fascinate me, and I love the extra layer of security they provide.

You’re deserted on an island and you could only take three tech products (real or fictional) with you. What would they be?
First, I’d bring a robot person — or my Amazon Echo — but only if there’s internet connection. It’d be like Wilson from Castaway! Only, it’d be a high-tech version of Wilson that’s responsive so I don’t get lonely. Second, I’d bring a super sick TV — like, 150 inches! That way, I can take the TV and create a boat from it to get off the island, or use it to create an S.O.S. signal. Third, I’d bring my desktop computer, just because I can. It’ll all be solar-powered — so I’ll be set!

We hope you enjoyed getting to know Centercode’s Product Designer, Chris Rader! If you have any questions for him or comments about his interview, feel free to leave a note below or email us at

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