Feb 21, 2024

The Dovetail Alternative in 2024

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Raphael Fleckenstein
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Dovetail was founded in 2017 and has grown in popularity ever since. It really shaped the term "research repository" and has contributed significantly to user research as we know it.

However, its focus has been on larger companies, where a separate research team exists that is detached from the product team.

If you have designers or researchers working directly in a product team or product managers conducting research, Dovetail isn't built for that.

It's one of the reasons we started Productlane, as we worked in Startups, where Dovetail seemed great in its core functionality but was too much of an effort to keep up-to-date in the product team.

No tool existed for small or medium-sized companies where everyone does research.

So, we started Productlane.

Dovetail is built for user research teams detached from product teams

In modern companies like Stripe, Airbnb, or Linear, everybody does user research. However, Dovetail is disconnected from the primary tool where the product team works:

The issue tracker.

In most cases, the product team's ux research repositories are the backlog in Linear or Jira.

However, Dovetail doesn't connect with it. So, if you tag user interview transcripts with problems or opportunities that already exist in the issue tracker, the product teams won't see it as soon as they start implementing it.

This is the core problem of why we built Productlane. It works similarly to Dovetail; you can upload videos and create transcripts, but besides just tagging them, you can also tag them with Linear issues and projects (Jira tickets and epics). 

This aligns everyone – especially engineers – constantly around the user, and feedback or video clips are directly visible in the proper context.

Large research projects instead of continuous discovery

Dovetails information architecture is built around large research projects for organizations where product managers ask the research team to conduct a project or usability test a design.

However, modern product discovery is continuous.

Y Combinator recommends product teams talk with users every week. Airbnb changed the product manager role to more of a product marketing role that speaks with users and streamlines projects with Sales and Customer Success.

Teresa Torres shaped the term Continuous Product Discovery, which is on its way to becoming the standard in modern ux research.

No opportunity roadmaps or quantified problems

Because every new research you conduct is a new "Project" in Dovetail, all new insights land in another silo. Tracking over time how many of your users have had onboarding issues will be very hard as all the info is scattered around in different projects.

With Productlane, you can connect every new interview note or transcript with a global set of opportunities you can group afterward – if necessary.

You can turn those into actual tickets for engineers afterward and make them actionable, and the engineers will see that part of the user recording when they consider starting to work on this.

A research platform that comes with a cost

Dovetail is a powerful tool, but it comes with a price tag. The cost of Dovetail may be prohibitive for some researchers, especially those who are working on a tight budget.

Productlane is more affordable because it targets a broader range of users, including small businesses and individual researchers. It offers lower pricing options and even a free account, making it suitable for those with limited budgets or more straightforward research requirements. 

GDPR Compliance

Selecting software that meets GDPR regulations is essential if your company is in Europe. Productlane is a great alternative to Dovetail because it is GDPR compliant. It follows the rules for handling and storing customer data set by the European Union, ensuring legal compliance and protecting customer privacy.

By using Productlane, you can avoid fines and legal problems associated with GDPR violations. It's a reliable option for keeping your customers' video recordings, transcripts, reviews and all sorts of user feedback secure.

Ease of Use

While Dovetail is a powerful tool, it may not be the easiest tool to use. As it is so flexible and customizable, many researchers find the interface too complex or overwhelming. 

Productlane is a user-friendly and opinionated tool that provides a much easier-to-use interface than Dovetail. It focuses on simplicity and intuitiveness, making it easier for designers and researchers to navigate and utilize the platform without feeling overwhelmed.

Conclusion: Productlane is the best Dovetail Alternative for product teams in 2024

While Dovetail has greatly influenced user research and data analysis – especially qualitative data – it is more suitable for large companies with separate research teams. It lacks integration with product teams' main tools and is not ideal for organizations where designers, researchers, and product managers work closely together. 

This led to the development of Productlane, a user-friendly alternative designed for small and medium-sized companies where everyone participates in research. With a more opinionated workflow that gives product teams the insights they need in real-time and in context to your actual roadmap.

Productlane offers seamless integration with issue trackers, supports continuous product discovery, enables better user insights tracking, ensures GDPR compliance, and has a simpler interface than Dovetail. These features make Productlane a compelling choice for companies seeking an easier and more collaborative research platform.

Sign up for a free Productlane account here!