Product strategy | UX/UI
After launching the world's first AR powered woodworking tool, Shaper realized there was a large gap between users ability to use Origin and their ability to design for Origin. Working across our hardware and software platforms, I helped define the product strategy and launch the MVP of Shaper Hub, a cross-platform experience that helps the reduce friction around designing for Origin. My role consisted of ideation, lean user research & testing, prototyping, workshop facilitation, UX flows, UI design, and design system development.
DEFINED NEW SERVICE ECOSYSTEM
LAUNCHED MVP PRODUCT EXPERIENCE
CREATED FOUNDATIONAL RESPONSIVE DESIGN SYSTEM
The business need
Shaper was a small start-up that had staffed industrial designers and mechanical engineers but had never worked with digital product, UX, or visual designers. The physical products were fastidiously designed and developed over 4 years, but the web experience was incomplete and lacked sufficient support for users. Furthermore, an early assumption had been made that users would be adept at creating digital designs for Origin, but as the tool rolled out commercially, it became clear that our users were not as tech savvy as hoped and were struggling to create designs.
With this gap in mind, the company was looking build out a cross-platform collaborative project sharing and file management platform in order to:
Reduce the friction around designing for Origin
Generate non-hardware revenue stream
Increase users' abilities to create with Origin and keep them engaged over time
Educate potential customers on Origin's capabilities
Learn quick - Beta testing
Due to competitive pressure and customer demand, our team had to quickly release functionality to allow file sharing between users in the first weeks after I joined. To maximize impact, we prioritized being agile and learning as much as possible from early releases. To that end, I setup and recruited users for a Shaper Beta Testing Group. Participants opted-in via our user forum and were rewarded with early access to new software releases and company swag. Feedback happened in remote sessions or through “surveys” posted within our user forum platform.
The beta release of our file sharing system was very rough, but generated valuable insights from our users.
Definition and relationship between "files,""folders," and "projects" was not clear
Implications of creating a project were unclear and made users nervous to create anything
CTAs were hidden, making it harder for users to complete desired user journeys
One of the key things we learned in our beta testing was that many users were nowhere near as tech savvy as we had assumed, and sometimes unfamiliar with basic digital conventions. Additionally, the business started to shift focus away from marketing to tech savvy early adopters to professional woodworkers, who were skilled at using the hardware, but had no idea how to digitally design.
Excited by this new direction, but aware that we had a lot to learn from our new user focus, we established the below goals for the design team.
Create a scalable and flexible architecture that we can learn from and iterate on as we get to know our users better
Bridge the relationship between our hardware and software
Create the foundation for a responsive system with reusable components
In order to facilitate a user focus on the web team, we started to develop personas to help ground product vision and development. I had initially planned a robust user research plan that included a series of 5-10 interviews, 2 photo journal studies, and shop & job site walk throughs underpin these personas, but due to business pressures, had to mostly scrap the that plan in favor of speed.
So, we had to get scrappy and create lightweight personas based on data we had on existing customers in our target demographic, a handful of interviews, conversations from trade shows, and our best guesses:
Creating a shared vision
As we moved forward, some gridlock developed within the team and senior leadership because there was not alignment around the foundation of what we were building. To address this, the design team facilitated and four day cross-functional workshop to help bring everyone together and coalesce around a product vision.
Instead of focusing on specific features, we designed the workshops to focus on supporting key user behaviors and leveraged our personas to help the team imagine scenarios.
Find + Make | Find a project and get onto your tool
Create + Manage | Create and manage your own files and projects
Share + Collaborate | Share a project with others and allow it to be duplicated or edited
Through the workshop exercises, the team developed four different Shaper Hub concepts and related information architectures, which we then evaluated against our three key behavior flows.
The Design Team the took the outputs of the workshop and brought them to the next layer of fidelity. A few rounds of iteration and reviews with the team later, we ultimately landed on a product vision and foundational information architecture that everyone was aligned behind.
We emerged with a vision of Shaper Hub as the one-stop shop for users once they purchased a tool. Our MVP would be the foundation for a robust user portal - the place users would go to learn, make, organize, shop, and collaborate. In order to accomplish this vision, we decided to break out the Shaper Hub experience from Shaper Tools Inc site, which had benefits across the company.
Business | Helps define the Shaper Hub brand, which could stand alone, and if strategically beneficial, could be rolled out as its own business
Engineering | Splitting the sites made the backend easier to manage, lowered QA times, and minimized release risks
UX | Optimized the purpose and user flows of each site. Shaper Tools could be optimized for marketing and sales and Shaper Hub could be optimized for supporting users
The MVP experience
After getting the team aligned around a product vision and information architecture, we only had a few short weeks to design and launch the MVP experience. We prioritized supporting our three key behaviors, creating a navigational flow that allowed for flexibility as we learned and added functionality, and establishing a baseline responsive design system that was integrated with the tool experience.
Create + Manage
Create and manage your own files and projects online & on tool
Black banners and common icon sets leveraged to draw connection across platforms
Files synced in real time between web & tool
Find + Make
Find a project and get onto your tool
Project gallery allows users to browse, filter, search, and find inspiration for projects
Toasts are sprinkled throughout the experience to confirm actions that sync with the tool and provide moments of delight
Share + Collaborate
Share a project with others and allow it to be duplicated or edited
Woodworking is historically passed on from person to person, so we wanted to create a place where our users could have an identity within the experience & connect to each other
Orienting users to the new Shaper Hub experience
Defining the elements of the experience for users up front
Supportive language for a non-tech savvy audience
A responsive foundation with reusable components that reinforces the connection to the hardware design system
Implemented Hotjar, a lightweight 3rd party app, to collect data about our user's behavor and to lay the data foundation for iterative learning
Pop-up feedback surveys
Ability to recruit test users