Pitch: A product design case study

Pitch makes it easy to get feedback on projects from people outside of your network through a 60 second video snap.

Feedback is a crucial part in product development. It gives us access to new perspectives, helps us truly understand stakeholders and often acts the most important part of the project. Receiving both positive and negative comments can be used in helping us make important design decisions and makes for better work.

Yet, feedback mostly takes place from within our network, resulting in biased opinions. Sure, there are a ton of online communities out there for feedback on finished works and tools for collaboration within teams; but what about those projects that are still in the works, or for those who have a minimal network?

The whole process took 3 weeks. In the end, I built a solution that I feel is invaluable to anybody with an idea or project, making stakeholders and industry experts much more accesible and convenient for everyone.

Heres what it took to make it happen.

Understanding the means

I started by setting out to validate my assumptions surrounding project feedback. I selected a range of Professionals and Students from different design sectors as my participants and conducted several remote Skype interviews. My goal was to identify the users paint points and highlight where the whole feedback experience is broken. Gaining a deeper understanding in these areas would help me make concious changes that better advances the user experience. I set out to answer the following questions:

  • Why is feedback important?
  • What tools or channels are used to recieve feedback?
  • At what stage of a project do you initially seek feedback?
  • How do you discover an idea is worth pursuing?
  • Are you a user of either Medium, Quora, Reddit or any slack groups? — What is your motivation for participating within the community?
User research to understand the core principles of feedback and how/when it happens.

I gathered all the insights and began to illustrate a users projects timeline and each of their pain-points. I used affinity mapping to group the observations and to surface several key issues amongst the participants.

Of all the people I spoke with, all actively sought feedback through-out the entirity of the project and not just at a singular stage. To them, feedback always happened within their network as it is convenient and accessible. They used feedback to help gain a new perspective on the project, receive validation and to open a discussion.

I also learned that:

  • Reaching outside of their network often took up to 3 months from end-to-end
  • Users actively sought feedback from those more knowledgable or those who have more experience within the industry
  • Personal development feedback was seen as important as project feedback
  • People preferred interactive content like youtube over text based apps for storytelling

After speaking with everyone, I realised I was being naive. I assumed the typical user for this application would be a designer who regulary has new ideas or on-going projects. I quickly realised designers arent the only ones with ideas. Entrepreneurs have no set demographic, they arise from multiple industries and each one of these project needs collaboration and input from a multitude of stakeholders to be successful. Products arent usually designed by designers for designers. I found it extremely helpful in speaking to a variety of people, without doing so I would not have came to the conclusion and no doubt would have built another tool for designers. It also helped me understand the target users of the app and to build user personas.

Setting the goals

Once I had an understanding of the users needs, attitudes and pain points, I was able to start defining the goals and features required in the MVP. Right away I knew it was important to give the users a meaningful experience that was as easy and as accesible as getting feedback from friends.

There were 5 goals of the app:

  • Provide users easy access to people outside of their network
  • Create a network of individuals from a variety of industries
  • A means for discussion for the creation of an honest enviroment
  • Rewards for top “Mentors”
  • Ability to follow a project from start to finish

Designing the experience

Once I had an MVP in mind, I moved on to looking at content sharing applications such as Spotify, Airbnb, Medium and other media /discovery based apps to help me understand how they provide a personal experience. What came apparent was each application tailored the data given to the user based on personal taste. Genres and topics were used to help weed out all the unnecessary data shown to the user. Among researching content sharing apps I also considered the premise of storytelling, elevator pitching and networking.

From this, the idea of video pitching was introduced. A 60 second “snap” in which the user gets a chance to talk about their project and idea. Easily accessible and highly captivating. I started exploring navigational patterns and how the idea of pitching could be implemented into the application to create the ideal experience.

Initial user flow

Using the data I had learned, I started to work on the site architecture. There was a lot of varying content which the app had such as; topics, new pitches, highest rated, following & completed. Condensing this all into a unified section proved difficult, I settled on two sections for the micro managing of selections and topics.

  • Home — Active projects, Following, Completed, Mentors & Requests
  • Discover — Top picks, New, Popular, Completed.

Each category had a progressive flow of information with less data, which was easy to scan though. Seperating Pitches and Projects meant users werent overwhelmed by the amount of options and content.

  • Pitches — The initial pitch of a project
  • Project — A collection of pitches that make up a project

Design prototpying

Once I had the product vision, information architecture and an idea of the experience, I went on to create wireframes, user flows and a prototype. Building a prototype of the app using In-Vision allowed me to quickly eliminate the concepts that didn’t feel good enough, test the initial experience on a mobile device and to start thinking about mobile interactions.

After multiple interations, I settled on a scrolling card system and video interactions for being the foundation of the product. This allowed for a lot of data without an overloading cognitive load, it also meant Pitches would be fast to scroll through and easy to consume. This design foundation influenced a lot of the design decision making. I went on to refining the UI, which in turn helped produce a fulfilling experience.

Prototyping with invision and the testing of hozitonal card scrolling

Building the product

By this point, I felt really good with what I had. I moved onto polishing the UI and crafting the interactions. It was important that the experience came first, and there was a motive behind every design element. I worked hard on refining the process and experimented a wide variety of solutions and user interactions that best answered the needs and features of the app. As part of the refinement, many screens got iterated. Below you can see how the home page evolved through-out the project

Nailing the the experience of uploading a Pitch was crucial. I wanted the process to be intuative and replicate the premise of in-person elevator pitching. From the navigational menu, the user can create a 60 second pitch on their project, and from there, they have options of choosing the target industry,influencers within the industry, and goals— This could include collaboration, introductions, general feedback or funding; Making it easy to target the people that matter. Below is the user flow of creating a Pitch.

I really wanted to push the idea of a live case study — following the project and allowing for input throughout the process; therefor it was important updating projects was easy to manage and intuative. Projects are made from a collection of Pitches; all of which have a dashboard for managing and reviewing the individual statistics. The design proved to be difficult, in the end the project dashboard got simplified and unified with the use of cards & UI scrolling.

Exploring how scrolling could improve navigation

Final screens & Prototype

As a final deliverable I used principle to prototype the flow of the application. Below are the final screens and a walkthrough taken from the app.

Lessons learned:

I spent a considerable amount of time prototyping and testing the product on a mobile device, during which I learned how much interactions can influence the product and enhance the experience. I realised how effective good prototyping can be — Making sure your idea is getting across in the best light and from end-to-end, confirming nothing can get lost in translation as everything is designed exactly how you expect it to function. Going forward I’ll be spending more time prototyping and building upon my interactions whilst designing the UI and UX.

If I had more time I would have liked to spend more time on the monetisation of mentor profiles — After a certain amount of points a user gains (through comment likes), they get the option of becoming a full fledged Mentor — offering their services to people and projects directly. If I had even further time, I would consider expanding the platform to allow the raising of funds — a take on a crowdfunding platform. Taking the product to market is something I would be interested in, down the road.