The secret to their success: How 5 Colorado teams design cutting-edge UX

by Joyce Famakinwa
August 23, 2018

To stay ahead of the competition, businesses across every industry consistently leverage user feedback to design seamless user experiences. Whether they’re developing an app for the auto industry or a website featuring products designed to help inform the work of scientists and first responders, UX design is critical to seamlessly providing products and services to customers.

To learn more about what it takes to design great UX, we talked with five Colorado tech companies on how they leverage user feedback and collaborate to drive success for their company, and success for their users.

 

Blinker team
photo via blinker

If you’ve ever bought, sold, insured or financed a car, you’ve probably experienced the anxiety of feeling like you’re out of your element. Blinker is a company working to cut the middlemen out of each of these processes, equipping sellers and buyers with auto industry intel and simplifying each step.

The company’s app allows car owners to evaluate the value of their car, easily list it for sale and interact directly with interested buyers. To learn more about how they’re simplifying the car buying process, we talked to Dennis Wukovits, Blinkers' vice president of product, about how the company migrated to a new platform to improve the experience for their users.

 

Our focus is on creating the best user experience to help navigate a typically difficult and confusing process."

Can you talk about any big projects the tech team has worked on to improve user experience? What was the process like?

To improve our user experience for simple loan originations, we migrated to DocuSign as an integrated partner platform to replace our homegrown loan-signing solution. Leveraging the industry-leading DocuSign platform allows Blinker to focus on the areas of our application that help us stay on the cutting edge of tech and continue to disrupt the industry. Our focus is on creating the best user experience to help navigate a typically difficult and confusing process.

 

How did your team collaborate to accomplish improving the UX and what did they learn from the experience?

Our team collaborated with the DocuSign API team to ensure a smooth development lifecycle. Through the effort, we learned to focus on improvement of the various stages of user experiences within the DocuSign system. This improved our operational productivity, raised confidence in the process and increased the security of our consumers' information.

 

DigitalGlobe team
photo via DigitalGlobe 

DigitalGlobe’s high-resolution commercial earth imaging satellites collect information that helps businesses, governments and nonprofits do everything from customizing a map and monitoring geographic changes to tracking natural disasters and equipping first responders with critical intel. Given the significant value they’re offering in these types of situations, the DigitalGlobe team is consistently looking to improve their product. To learn more, we talked with Bianca Laurendine, a product marketing manager, on how the company implemented a usage-based subscription model for its newest product based on customer feedback.

 

Can you talk about any big moves the tech team has made to improve user experience? What was the process like?

DigitalGlobe has implemented a usage-based subscription model with our new product EarthWatch, (the product gives users access to the company’s satellite imagery) which is a cloud-based solution that enables customers to access all premium content at the best value. Taking market feedback to heart, we did this to provide customers with the flexibility to try and choose the best products for their business needs with no concurrent user restrictions. The first of its kind, EarthWatch is a new era in geospatial accessibility.

 

DigitalGlobe promotes cross-collaboration across all levels and as a company, the saying 'There’s no I in team' is really embodied in our culture."


How did your team collaborate to accomplish improving the product and what did they learn from the experience?
 

DigitalGlobe promotes cross-collaboration across all levels and as a company, the saying “There’s no ‘I’ in team” is really embodied in our culture. We implemented a true cross-functional rollout process to make sure we optimized foundational content, communication, sales readiness, marketing campaigns and the go-to-market strategy to orchestrate successful product launches. Due to the heavy level of collaboration, we learned that we were able to quickly adapt to have one of the most successful launches at DigitalGlobe.

 

Tack Mobile team
photo via Tack Mobile

Mobile design and development agency Tack Mobile builds software for mobile and connected devices. Their client list includes everyone from Hunter Douglas, a corporation that specializes in window treatments, to the popular puzzle game Adrift.

Because of the diversity of their clients, the team takes a fresh approach to each project in order to focus deeply on the user’s needs, and they have a lot of fun along the way. In fact, according to the team at Tack Mobile, finding a way to balance fun and professionalism was top of mind during the design of a recent internal product. We talked with John Myers, president of Tack Mobile, and Blaze Pollard, a designer with the company, to learn more.

 

Can you talk about any big projects the tech team has made to improve user experience? What was the process like?

Myers: We're building an internal product to recognize employees. A core design challenge has been balancing fun with professionalism in the visual design and overall user experience. We've built every component with the goals the user has at each stage, such as viewing your own award page, the pages of others and awarding others. We'll be opening this up to beta testers this fall at accolader.io, and plan to iterate on our design based on ongoing feedback.


How did your team collaborate on this project and what did they learn from the experience?

Pollard: The internal design team recently switched from Sketch to Figma to build mockups in real-time, allowing the development team to quickly view live designs and grab code directly from Figma. This has helped us move at a faster pace and more transparently with the rest of the team.

 

Mersive team
photo via Mersive

Many of us have experienced it — your team is gathered together for a brainstorming session, everyone is excited to share their fresh ideas, then suddenly, you run into tech challenges that impede creativity. In this age of innovation, people are constantly looking for convenient and successful ways to collaborate.

Mersive provides software designed to help with this pervasive challenge. The company’s software provides a centralized dashboard allowing teams to seamlessly share digital content from their laptops, tablets and phones to a display in the meeting room. Jon Burns, vice president of product at Mersive, walked us through what they consider the three components of improving user experience.

 

Can you talk about any big moves the tech team has made to improve user experience? What was the process like?

We believe that to create killer user experiences you need three components: constantly communicate with your customers, build with a solid UX design foundation and leverage modern technologies to build modern software experiences.

In the past year, the “big moves” we’ve made to improve the Solstice user experience have revolved around the second and third components. As we scaled our product development organization, we built out our product and UX design team to establish a strong collaborative UX foundation that is leveraged in all new user experience design we do: agile product research, lo-fi to hi-fi UX design and iterative improvement. As for the third component — we have adopted new technologies that allow us to more easily build amazing, modern experiences.  

 

We not only bring on great technical experts in their functional roles, we bring on people who will take pride in the work they do within their teams."

 

How did your team collaborate to improve your UX design processes and what did they learn from the experience?

At Mersive, our agile teams are cross-functional and highly collaborative. We are building an organization where product management, UX design and engineering work together as a team and incorporate feedback from sales and marketing to solve our big strategic problems. We believe that the best user experiences are created when our functional experts and business-side stakeholders are aware and engaged every step of the way throughout the product lifecycle.

What have we learned throughout this process? It’s so cliché, but it’s true — focus on the people. We not only bring on great technical experts in their functional roles, we bring on people who will take pride in the work they do within their teams, and who will go beyond their day jobs to help us really shape our collaborative processes.

 

Billtrust team
photo via Billtrust

Billtrust’s platform makes it possible to automate and streamline payment processes, including invoice payment, cash application and invoice delivery. The company’s senior UX designer Nate Girard told us that talking to their users regularly kept them on track.

 

Can you talk about any big projects the tech team has completed to improve user experience? What was the process like?

The UX team at Billtrust is in the process of building and designing an integrated platform under which all of our products will coexist. This massive undertaking is an excellent opportunity to update the user experience across all of our products. The prototypes we created for testing generated user feedback that helped shape the requirements for the product managers and the dev teams in terms of what needed to be built.

We recently just released our first version to some beta customers and are in the process of user testing with them to get feedback on the platform as we design and build out the next round of experiences. It’s been incredibly exciting.

 

Our collaboration is dependent on our good working relationship with the product managers."

 

How did your team collaborate on this project and what did they learn from the experience?

Our collaboration is dependent on our good working relationship with the product managers. Our features get prioritized by the managers who work with the designers who sketch out solutions. Those sketches are reviewed internally by many teams across the company and with users to get as much feedback as possible. We then design a more fleshed-out prototype with a bit of the functionality, data and microinstructions in place to user test for functional feedback.

From there, we talk with our users regularly and often and try to include as many of the product managers and developers as are willing to listen in on the user tests. After a few design iterations, we share with the dev teams during pre-grooming so they can ask more technical questions and gather the information they need to estimate the features appropriately. Our UX engineer continues the collaboration by designing and building the front-end components and stylesheets that the dev team plugs into the middleware and back-end services.

By the end we’ve deployed a product we conceived of, user tested and molded into exactly the experience the user needs to solve their problems.

 

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