Remedie was created to empower web teams by giving them the right tools and knowledge.
Project - Remedie Fundamentals
Remedie Fundamentals was a new product to help organisations take control of their online presence.
By reviewing them in a number of key areas such as content, user experience and social channels, we could evaluate both strengths and weaknesses and provide a clear, targeted action plan for improvement. That would include supporting training materials so they could make high value changes themselves, saving time and money on digital agency projects.
After a number of years working in digital agencies with hundreds of clients, my partner and I thought there was the potential to service some of their needs in ways other than traditional agency engagements.
The model we had in mind was a new way of solving an existing problem. The big challenges we faced were firstly whether it was a viable approach and secondly if it was a viable business. As a part-time, bootstrapped venture we needed to get answers to both those questions as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Part 1 – Real world prototyping
To be successful the model required users to be hands-on, so our approach was to prototype a part of the service as realistically as possible in a real-world environment.
Understand our market's current behaviours & approach
Using the service needed people to change their approach to solving an exisiting problem. Using in-person interviews and online questionnaires we were able to understand their current behaviours and motivations, and see how our service could fit into their workflow.
Focus energy on where the value is for users
The prototype version of Remedie Fundamentals used a spreadsheet to handle the review process and hand-coded static HTML pages for the report using the default Bootstrap theme.
It wasn't at all fancy but going lo-fi on the production allowed us to put our efforts into the high-value work, namely the content of the review and the action plan. This is what our beta testers cared most about, and in turn, what we could learn most from.
The more we learned, the more specific we could be
We learned a massive amount during our beta prototyping phase. We got some helpful feedback and actionable insights but most importantly for us, validated the model enough to move onto the next stage and with a much clearer picture of what we needed to build.
While it's exciting to launch a polished product it's the slowest and most expensive part of the process. By waiting until we had a really solid understanding of the product space we were able to be very focused in our execution. Moving fast is so often more about accuracy than speed.
Part 2 – Product Development
My collaborator Liam and I both had strong backgrounds in user-centered design and had worked together before so following a customer focused, design led approach to product development was natural for us.
Building on the work with prototype product, we created lightweight personas, developed a set of design principles and threw a lot of effort into sketching and wireframing to generate and develop ideas.
An unusual challenge we faced for this phase was that I was in Australia and Liam was in the UK. With limited face-to-face time because of the time difference (I was 11 hours ahead) we had to be incredibly selective about using our video sessions for only those things that needed two brains working together.
We adapted our approach as we went but settled on:
- Rapid collaborative sessions, with continued work by ourselves afterwards
- Presentation of work in show and tell sessions to compare and critique ideas
- Swapping work and continuing with each other's ideas
It was definitely an unusual way to do product development, however overall we were satisfied with how it turned out. Our previous time working together helped and the shared in-person experience of the prototyping stage meant we had a common grounding in the project. Both important factors in making it work.
After we'd nailed down the final screens, user flows and content approach, I came up with some designs concepts for the key screen using some real content we'd created for the prototype.
Key product features
To encourage progress and build a sense of achievement we wanted people to get moving quickly. The opening page of the report gave the user a couple of quick and/or urgent tasks to do immediately. We also highlighted 'quick wins' within the action plan for the same reason. The content was also carefully written to be to the point and promote action.
Balance the good and bad
To earn the respect and trust of the user and promote better learning over the lifetime of the product, we balanced the more critical parts of the report with the positives of what the team was currently doing. Not only would this help reinforce those positive behaviours but make the negative feedback more acceptable.
After beta testing we knew we needed to steer the interface away from feeling like an onerous task list but retain a good level of scannable information. Using a card-based approach with key information and careful use of colour helped guide the user without overloading them.
Remedie Fundamentals was used by a number of organisations, in a wide variety of domains from a startup to a scientific research institute. The feedback was that it helped them to improve weak areas quickly, with the tool helping them focus, organise and train their team. Exactly what we hoped for.
However, after engaging a wider audience we came to the conclusion that 'Fundamentals' wasn't a good stand alone product and to really utilise the tool clients needed more hands-on support than we could offer as a small team at opposite corners of the world. We've since reused and repurposed much of the content and technology in different ways.