Selling a company is always a big challenge, and part of that is finding the right buyer. Investment bankers want to connect their clients (CEOs and business owners) with institutions who understand the value of the business. Axial's algorithm and confidential platform connects them discretely with the right institutions who might otherwise be outside of their network.
January 2017 - June 2017 | 1 Designer, 1 PM, 5 Developers
As design lead on the project, it was my responsibility to work closely with product managers, engineers, and other stakeholders to prioritize features, conduct user research and craft the user experience itself.
You can also read about this project from my Product Manager's perspective in this Medium post.
Over the years, the product had accumulated user experience and technical problems. Interviewing users, watching Inspectlet behavior, observing sales & support calls, metrics tracking, and meeting with our customer support staff were all sources of learning about the frictions our users had with the platform. The issues couldn't be solved with any one new feature or incremental improvements. In order to improve the product, we needed to rethink the entire experience.
These smaller problems accumilated to larger ones:
Defining the scope of work and prioritizing problems was a collaboration between the VP of Product, Design Manager and Product Manager. I mapped the seller's user experience from initial project creation to the final interactions with a buyer. I brought in other team members across the organization for feedback. This stage is where product management and design started establishing language, mental models, and a user flow that would be carried into the rest of the work.
Sellers receive hundreds of matches for their project and each match contains the same basic information (financial range, industry, match strength). In order to sort through so much information, and dive in deeper in to interesting matches, we came up with a core dashboard experience. I created a prototype in Google sheets to allow for quick information hiearchy iterations across the team.
Rough paper sketch let me explore larger interactions, such as in-line detail expansion versus a card slide out for the dashboard page, at an early throw-away stage.
I explored what content should go on the homepage (notifications or activity feed? most recent projects or all projects?), before comitting to digital.
Understanding space constraints was easier in digital wireframes for the details tab. Once in digital wireframes, I was able to stress-test things like text lengths and scrolling height.
We tested out a prototype with people fitting our customer profile, whether or not they were Axial members. Research participants tested clickable prototypes via Invision share, and we visited some at their offices.
A few lessons from these sessions, that were incorporated into design changes:
The initial product launch was a lean MVP, containing only the most essential features. Most of the scope was determined by the VP of Product, who was motivated to get the project launched on time and demonstrate the team's capability of following up with quick iterations. Designs for follow-up features (such as filtering lists, bulk actions) were created and prioritized based on users' feedback. Below is the design as it exists currently on the site.
Filters are an example of a carefully considered detail. Creating a component with a reuseable pattern was essential, so that it could be used on other parts of the site (such as homepage and buy-side). The drop down expands into a module containing other modules, and can be placed at the top of various dashboards.
The key metrics we tracked (project completion & project sending) initially dropped with the launch due to a number of factors. A slower, buggy platform created a lot of friction, but over the weeks the team shipped fixes and feature improvement at a quick pace. Those metrics have sense gone back up. Simple design iterations like changing copy from "Draft" to "Not Shared", adding an explicit "Select All" button, and the ability to export the contacts list to .csv created greatly improved user experiences.
Thankfully we've also received positive feedback, such as:
“Thank you so much, this is really great. I don’t think you guys could have made this any easier to use.”
“More on the UX - I think the more users log in and see the updates, for those who need to give Axial another shot, they'll be inclined to use this again because of its straightforward direction. I think more adoption will come from this interface because of the overall clarity and dare I say... beauty... it's aesthetically pleasing :) "
“This tool is absolutely terrific. We love it.”
“We’re slapping ourselves on the head for not using this sooner.”