So you are probably thinking, wtf is a piccles. Thats exactly what I thought when I first heard about it. In this article I’ll be going through a story of the design work I’ve done for this startup and how it all came to where it is today. It all started when my boss Brian Krusell, Director of CICS Careers at UMass Amherst, told me about a business alumni who is starting his own company and needed some help with design. I had no idea what to expect but I was interested nonetheless. I’m a college student so I could use the experience.
I setup a time to chat with this alumni. After talking to him, I realized he was a typical startup grinder, he worked long hours on what he loved, stayed humble, and never wanted to go back to working a corporate 9–5. I admired his drive and love for his work. Okay, so now I will get into what piccles is, or you can learn about it here. So piccles is a collaborative art drawing platform where people work together on creating an entirely new unique piece. Now how is this different from any other art medium? Easy, it solves the most difficult problem with getting started, A blank canvas. Piccles provides the prompt, the colors, and all you have to do is color in one square and you are now a contributor to a larger piece. Also you are no longer the only artist so you feel less intimated about pleasing and impressing others.
Redefine Product Design and Strategy
So at the time I had my first call with Chris, CEO of Piccles, the app was at its early stage. He ran a workshop at UMass Amherst and had students all in one room color in a square. This then became a collaborative art piece as you can see above.
We took the time to understand the problems with the current experience of the app. From there we worked together on redesigning a new experience for users that will involve gamification and a stronger sense of a community. Now before all this, we worked on creating a new on boarding process so users will have a grasp of what the app is about before getting into it. We worked together to figure out what is the most important information we want these artists to know when they first launch the app.
After that we began to work on the bigger features, like gamification. We had an idea of users leveling up as they continue to color in piccles. They unlock new items and new piccles they can color as they increase in level. This will keep users engaged and coming back for more.
We designed this all out and ran some usability testing here at my school. I made a list of tasks I wanted the user to go through and then they provided feedback on their experience of attempting to accomplish those tasks. Check out some photos we took during the user testing.
This is great feedback to reiterate but we realized we are focusing on the wrong things.
Time to step back and think about the big picture.
It’s important to fine tune the UI design based on user testing but this product was about more than just an intuitive and easy experience. After talking with Chris, we realized there is a much bigger vision here. We decided to take a big step back and really tried to understand what impact Piccles will make in this world. What is the problem we are actually solving, that’s what UX Design is all about. Understanding the real needs/problems people have and figuring out how we can accommodate for those needs/problems. Chris, Nasana, who is another intern he hired for the summer, and I all sat down together to think about what Piccles really is and how it can improve peoples lives. We did this really fun post-it exercise to start.
We came to the final vision of what Piccles is all about, it encompasses three levels. The first level, users are able to color in order to alleviate boredom and anxiety while still gaining a sense of fulfillment. At a higher level, they would be a contributing artist to an entire community of artists which allows people to cultivate deep personal relationships. At an even higher level this collaborative community that has created a unique art piece can then share their story with the entire world. This is what piccles is all about. It could be used to bring people together and allow people to communicate and express their story.
Now that we have a clear vision of what Piccles is, we need to make sure that every single design decision we make hence forth ties back to our vision statement. We also hope to brainstorm again on new ideas of what we can do to incorporate into the app that aligns well with the vision.
Thanks for reading :) This is a glimpse of what I did as Product Designer. I have plenty of other stories to share on what I did for Piccles but I thought this would be a good start. Stay tuned!