Sendle – Launch
Project – Sendle Dashboard
After exploring and validating the opportunity for a delivery service, and learning a lot in the process, it was time to turn Sendle into a proper business with a go-to-market product – Sendle Dashboard.
My role was to lead the team through the design process, create the user experience and develop the front end.
A focus towards small business
In our initial exploration we developed four personas and focused on two. With our go-to-market product we sharpened that focus towards a single persona – small business.
The aim was to create a small business portal for our delivery service that was quick to get started with and simple to use, especially to those who hadn't previously used courier services. Businesses would sign up for an account, create and manage orders, track progress and access online support.
Research & insight gathering
With our focus now on small business we needed to understand those customers more deeply and see how they were currently fulfilling their delivery needs to inform what we were doing. A few directions I approached that from were:
Small business delivery is an exisiting problem and has an existing market. Therefore a great way of quickly accessing a lot of customer insights, understanding their expectations and potential problems we could face was to dive into a number of websites and forums where customers were active.
Fortunately people aren't shy about sharing their experiences online and while often at the extreme ends there were plenty of lessons from their praise and complaints.
Talking to and observing customers is crucial for understanding pain points and gaining good insight into their world. The more real you can make it the better.
As well as our own prototype, observing our target audience using competitor products effectively gave me a bunch of hi-fidelity prototypes for free. Without any emotional investment from my side and no expectation of us improving the products from theirs, conversations were very open and productive too.
Analysing competitor product was helpful in immersing myself in the space, and to understand the core features and common vocabulary used within the industry. With that as context we'd then know if we were going with or against the market and why. Not only good from a product perspective but handy information for the marketing team to know too.
There were a number of helpful insights that stood out – some of the most influential during the design process were:
- Customers are very price sensitive.
- Time is their most precious resource and a significant portion is taken up by logistics and admin.
- They worry about when things go wrong.
- Many online portals and dashboards are complex and difficult to use, particularly for newer users who don't understand the process or some of the jargon.
Developing our DNA
As a early stage startup we weren't only developing a product but also our views and opinions on what a modern, small business delivery service should be like, how it should act and behave. At the core of this was how we could solve those key pain points for our users.
It was crucial that this was done collaboratively, directed by the vision of the founders, but the forum for it was my work designing the product. I felt it was important that everyone, particularly remote workers, could contribute to the early stages of solution design and that we talked specifics as much as possible to avoid people holding different abstractions and ideas in their head.
The wireframes and wireframe prototypes became the focus of this task. I was able to quickly and easily propose solutions, and get active participation to share opinions, sharpen our thinking and raise potential issues early on. Although high-fidelity designs are often more accessible and generate better product insights, the lower fidelity approach kept our focus more on function than form and made it much easier to generate plenty of ideas quickly and cheaply.
Design and build
After finalising the wireframe prototype both the development team and myself were able to use it as the base specification for the Dashboard. While they got into the technical architecture and development work, we got some outside help with some visual design and brand direction so that I could design and build the user interface.
Using non-designers for design feedback
The design process tends to work better when there's the ability to present work, critique and collaborate to solve problems. As the solo product designer on the team I still needed the feedback but had to find it in a different way.
My approach was to co-opt in a few non-designer colleagues into being a critical audience. Going through the process of articulating a problem and presenting my thinking and solution helped me to identify problem areas I needed to iterate on and make those crucial adjustments for the final product.
Collaborative design and development
With a design framework in place I was able to start coding the UI, either creating placeholder screen for our devs to hook into or applying the design framework to raw templates from them. As such there was no design-dev handover but an active process of feedback, learning and adjustment, solving problems together as we needed to.
I was really fortunate that our development team bought in to the user-centric design approach and were great collaborators, going the extra mile to help produce viable technical solutions that were also user focused.
Sendle Dashboard, and with it Sendle, was launched to the public in July 2015.
Key features of the service include:
- Easy account creation with no business history or credit checks required
- Simple flat-rate pricing
- Approachable interface designed with novice users in mind
- Numerous time-saving features for order creation, label printing and admin tasks
- Automated, brandable customer notifications and tracking
Since launch it has continued unbroken 20% month-on-month growth and won a number of business and innovation awards.