Product Designer

Ora

Ora began life as a fairly straight forward re-design of an existing set of tools. These tools comprised a business marketing dashboard, part of the products and services offered by Localist for Business. I was brought on to improve upon the existing experience and allow for the addition of a handful of new features.

During the initial requirements gathering and discovery phases of the project, the team began to discuss the idea of something more than a re-design of the existing toolset. We wanted to enable small business to not only promote their business and engage their audience online, but to also provide them with much broader set of tools to enable them to grow their business.

 

 

Company Type

Start-up

Role

Product designer, including; needs analysis, requirements & scoping, strategy, wireframes, prototyping, UI Design, UX Design,
Interaction Design

Year

2014
Ora marketing homepage

Defining the challenges

We started by identifying a core problem; that small business customers are generally unable to access market and industry specific data and insights. To solve this problem, we would need to create tools and systems which can understand the market a business is in and deliver valuable, timely insights to the business owner. Once we’ve delivered these insights we will then have to provide tools for the customer to act on them. 

Another problem many businesses face is the challenge of defining their business, or telling their story. So we should design a way for businesses to make their ‘elevator pitch’ and share this with anyone. 

Planning is another challenge which all businesses routinely face. We should design systems which allow customers to easily plan and create a quarterly business strategy, and provide them access through this tool to a skilled business management team. 

We should also enable a business owner to have a clear, transparent reporting & measurement platform. A single place to see their entire sales funnel, and a true reflection of ROI against multiple channels. 

These challenges represent the core problem set which Ora attempts to tackle. 

For us to design effective solutions to these challenges, we first have to discover the underlying data behind the business, both quantitative and qualitative.

Some early sketches exploring key screens and user flows

Gathering business data

Central to the entire functioning of the software is the gathering of data on a business.

Before we attempted to design an interface to capture data, we spent time with customers and stakeholders attempting to understand the data points behind different types of businesses. Once we understood these data points a bit further, we could utilise them a starting point for a strategic business plan and profile.

We basically needed to take what would usually be a 30 minute one on one interview with a business manager and “productize” it into a series of question & answer flows.

The goals for this on-boarding were about both collecting the right data, and also not making the process feel like a chore for the customer. The flow should be natural, enjoyable, and fluid.  

I began the flow design process by sketching and revising concepts for how to present each question to the customer.  We went through quite a number of different design iterations before we eventually settled on a unique style of form filling known as ‘mad-lib’ or ‘natural’ form filling.  Based on the feedback we’ve received from businesses and our customer support team, we’ve proven that this technique meets our goals of being a fluid and natural way to capture data. 

The latest iteration of the on-boarding UI

After settling on the structure and method for data gathering, I then jumped into Sketch and created around 8 different UI “Styles” which we could re-use to ask any number of questions.

These styles are then linked together into an on-boarding flow, and then again into ‘question flows’ which occur throughout the customer journey.
We learnt that customers were more happy to answer tougher questions further into their journey with Ora than trying to answer everything at once, so we designed a system which breaks up the data gathering over several phases. 

The individual question flows were regularly ‘hallway tested’ utilising clickable prototypes set up in Invision. This allowed us to quickly determine if we were asking the right questions, in the right way. 

Various UI patterns used for data gathering

The Four Pillars

The main Ora application consists of four main sections.

Ora Eye is the dashboard for a business and its everyday functioning. It’s designed to show at a glance online mentions, reviews, competitors information, tasks, analytics, and upcoming projects.

The customer journey through Ora requires a very ‘phase’ oriented approach, due to the ambitious nature of the software and the massive variation in customer archetypes. In light of this we designed the dashboard views to utilise a modular, grid based layout allowing us to reposition elements according to their benefit for the user. i.e the task component is only activated once a project is started by the customer.

Ora Eye as viewed by a user in the latter phase of their journey

Ora Profile is the space in which a businesses story is described, and which evolves over time. The data which we gather on a businesses lives in this section. Businesses might use this section to tell the story of their business to an investor, or a bank manager.

In order to facilitate this offline sharing, I designed a ‘print’ view of the profile which can be exported by the user at any time.

The profile also presented us with the challenge of providing timely feedback to the customer to show the correlation between the gathering of data from different points throughout the application and the corresponding effect it has on the Business profile.

We attempted to solve this challenge by designing a flow which always resulted in a contextual reaction in the profile page UI i.e a flash message and a highlight around changed elements.

Ora Profile in both the web app view, and as an exported PDF

Ora Expert represents the roadmap for a business. Their strategic plan across 4 quarters, broken into projects, managed through a robust set of project management features to track progress through tasks.

Collaboration is a core focus of this part of the application, with the ability to comment, share files and assign team members to tasks.

Building a set of project management tools as just one part of an application which attempts to solve many other problems is no small undertaking. To mitigate this we broke the design of this part of the application down into prioritised tasks or Jobs to be done. This allowed us to focus on nailing individual taskflows and then stitch them together into an overarching user journey. 

In order to share a WIP user journey I would record a short screencast with Screenflick and distribute it to the team on Slack.  Often these short screencasts would serve as a basic outline of functional specs for the engineering team. 

Ora Expert showing a quarterly strategic plan

Ora Tracker is an ambitious tool designed to provide reporting on key metrics across the entire operation of a business, both online & offline.

The initial high level requirements from internal stakeholders was centred around a representation of a businesses ‘conversion funnel’. This was accompanied by wireframes from a product manager. My role was at this point to try and interpret a complicated set of requirements and design vision, and massage these into something simple and usable for our broad customer base. Usually I like to be involved in scoping and feature definition early, and try to avoid receiving specs, wireframes without being involved, unfortunately this wasn’t possible. 

I worked to refine the original concepts through sketching and quick Invision prototypes, with the end result being a less graphical representation of a sales funnel that was initially conceived by stakeholders. The hope is that users who have some experience with analytics packages such as Google Analytics, might find it a familiar and comfortable experience.

The latest version of Ora Tracker

Beyond the product strategy & design involved of a ‘consumer’ application for growing your business, I was also tasked with designing a CRM for a national sales team of 60 people. The core requirement for this tool was to replace Salesforce.
Of course we wouldn’t be able to build absolutely every feature which Salesforce provides, so we had to be very sure of the requirements going into the project. I interviewed several of the sales team and administrators and used these discussions as a basis for the project requirements. The requirements were also deeply tied to existing business processes around invoicing and workflows, so a lot of time was spent speaking with BA’s and members of the dev team to create a workflow within the new system which would fit the needs of both the business from a process standpoint, and the users (sales team).

As a part of this CRM I also designed a ‘smart pitch’ system which enables sales people to dynamically create a slide deck which is used during the 2-step pitch process to new customers. The team is equipped with iPads so the entire experience was designed around this device.

BDM and DEP versions of the sales tool