Helping Interior Designs Do What They Love

About the Project

This project began with the question: “How might we unlock the full creativity of the design team by providing a frictionless, intelligent design experience and increasing trust in the end-to-end process?”

We wanted to deeply understand what interior designers do and why so we had a foundation for building products and services rooted in this understanding.

My Role

Sprint Master, Research Design, Prototyping Testing, Research Share Out

Solution

Create a service that captures and learns from the daily decisions designers make about our spaces, then surface that information in products that give designers a realistic picture of the design and brand, while also allowing for the brand’s aesthetic and stylistic preferences to change over time. Then, leverage this data to provide recommendations on where designers can make the biggest impact on the member experience and automate space decisions deemed less important.

My Process

Understand

Interviews with stakeholders, subject matter experts and photo editors

To do this, we formed a cross-discipline team and designed a 5-day discovery sprint. Discovery sprints are an opportunity for a cross-discipline team to take a deep look at a particular activity.

During the week the team used various research methods to unpack and validate user needs, business needs and technology capacities. This helped reduce risk by identifying challenges early in the product development process. Subject matter experts gave us deep dives, stakeholders gave lightning talks and we interviewed users. We also asked interior designers to draw their current process, including the deliverables at each step, the tools they used and the people involved.

The team included representatives from design, data, engineering and product management.

Define

What are the Key Friction Points

The current tools interior designers use at the company are crippling and make it difficult for them to meet their deadlines.

  • There isn’t a real-time source of truth for items people can use in our spaces;
  • The tools they use do not provide a starting point, or outline, for making decisions about how to turn raw space and items into a “we” experience.

Insights

Four key insights surfaced from our deep dive into the design experience. These insights describe a deep understanding of an interior designers behavior and why something is happening the way it is.

Insight One: Designers need some parameters. They need to know what they need to achieve and what resources they have in order to make decisions about how to get there.

“I would really like my job so much more if I had a life outside of work and had proper timelines. I can deal with the inefficiencies of the platforms.”

Insight Two: An agreed upon precedent or base, and the tools that bring this precedent to life, give designers a launch pad for experimentation and decision making.

Insight Three: Today, designers do not know critical information about items, such as what items are on brand, and of those, what is in stock and what will arrive on time.

“Even if you start with the best of intentions, it’s not always going to work out in the end.”

Insight Four: REVIT was supposed to remove barriers and empower designers but without understanding how to use it or 3D models it just introduced more friction in the system.

“I felt crippled by the program.”

Diverge

Sketching using the Crazy 8’s method

After we understood what the current system looked like, and the pain points with that system, we were able to pick a couple of problems to brainstorm solutions for. We used sketching and storyboarding to bring these ideas to life. The prompt was: how might we create usable parameters that empower teams to do what they love?

Decide

Determine what ideas to validate with our users

After doing crazy 8’s, sketching 8 ideas in 5 minutes, and then sketching one big idea, we put on our zen voting hats. Each person interpreted the sketches without explanation and put a green or red dot on pieces of the sketch they liked or didn’t like. The team then combined concepts from the sketches and discussed the best way to get these ideas in front of users to validate the desirability of the idea.

Prototype

Using provocations to validate ideas

We had a lot of big ideas composed of many smaller ideas that needed to be validated. There were a lot of directions we could take to solve this problem. Provocations helped us move fast and focus on validating what the best way to solve the problem was. We didn’t have questions about the usability or the flow at this point. Right now, we just didn’t to know if we were solving a real problem and if the way we were solving it got people excited. 

Validate

Getting feedback from users and stakeholders

We shared our prototypes with designers we interviewed earlier in the week to get quick feedback on our early-stage concepts. Then, we created another round of provocations and also did a card sorting exercise with interior designers.

MVP Launch

Getting the product in the hands of our users

Once the design sprint concluded, the product team (product manager, interior designer and engineers) were aligned on what to do next. The team launched an MVP five months later. I conducted baseline usability testing on it before the launch. Over the next year, the team plans to launch new features, then measure the success of the features, making changes as needed. This was a huge win for the interior designers and has decreased the time it takes to spec out a project by more than 50 percent.

I created a service blueprint that mapped the future of the features and services.

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