Designing a Mobile Platform

Jon Rundle
Jul 8 · 9 min read
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The beginning of our mobile journey

In 2016, we launched our first-ever mobile app, Envoy Passport.

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We had a vision of a future where everything could exist under one roof, inside of a unified mobile app.

Blue sky design concepts

Going into the Deliveries launch, we had already begun to talk about what our long term mobile platform could potentially look like. In 2017, we produced some early concepts of a unified mobile app that would bring all the current and future functionality of Envoy to the palm of your hand, which we lovingly termed “Envoy Mobile”. Even back then, we knew our company vision was to build many products for the workplace. Although we only had Visitors at the time, we knew Deliveries was around the corner, and we had a vision of even more.

By shedding the constraints of what currently existed, product scope, and engineering schedules, we put form to an abstract vision — something that wouldn't have been possible if we limited ourselves to working inside predetermined guardrails.

psst, you can read more about this ideaology in one of my past posts: “Designing your digital product like a concept car”.

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Early concept of Envoy Mobile

Mistake #1: Designing for tomorrow instead of today

With a newfound excitement about a bigger vision centered around creating a mobile-focused unified workplace platform, we started to play out how to make it happen. This is where we made our first mistake in the process. At the time, we had an immediate need to build a more polished app for our new Deliveries product. Figuring we could save resources by combining these projects, we decided to shoe-horn the deliveries functionality into the new mobile concepts we had produced.

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This profile screen didn’t need to exist for a Deliveries only product

Ultimately we had forced a multi-product focused design into a single product mobile app.

The big takeaway here was learning that when you have a big vision, you still need to ensure what you ship now is going to work for today’s customers, not just tomorrow’s.

Back to the drawing board

At this point we took a step back and regrouped. It’s easy to look back now and realize we were so excited about the company’s vision to be a workplace platform that we didn’t stop to think about the fact that at the time we were only two products built for very different audiences. Combining those two ideas into a unified app didn’t ultimately offer more value to either user set.

We took a step back and again utilized design to visualize how a more unified approach could be accomplished.

The more time we spent trying to solve this problem the more we realized the app needed more to be successful. Taking what we learned, we started to explore more concepts and iterated on our initial ideas with a fresh perspective. We started to hone in more on the office as a focus point. Visitors, Employees and Admins converge together at an office. That unifying physical place could be the unifying concept that would provide more value to all of our users.

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Focusing in more on the office as a guiding concept

Mistake #2: Too much blue sky designing

As we got more excited about this renewed direction, we still hadn’t sorted out how we’d get there. Conversations interally and with our customers led to questions about how much value users would find within this app. Admins might find regular value in the Visitors and Deliveries functionality we had included. Still, if we wanted to drive a much bigger user base, we needed features that Employees at companies could really grasp onto.

Finding value

At this point, as a company, we had started to build our first concept for a new meeting rooms focused product. This was another place for us to continue to build on our workplace platform vision. We utilized those past blue sky designs to help guide us toward a path of unity with our other products.

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Feeling confident in knowing we now had value for each of our different user types is what ultimately helped us feel ready to pull the trigger on building this complex product.

Finally, time to ship

Learning from some of the earlier mistakes we made, we knew we needed time to build this right. We needed to see the whole thing through and not just build one part of the puzzle that didn’t make sense by itself. That being said, we also needed to balance that with scoping this down to something achievable. We wanted to avoid trying to make this perfect right off the bat versus shipping something great to start and iterating on it as we learned more from how our customers were going to use it.

Going live

A few short months later and a period spent in beta with customers, we were ready to go live.

Because we focused on the right things, we were able to build more in six months than we were able to do in the previous years combined.

We had conceptualized the long term vision, putting together a feature set that we felt better resonated with our customers based on more direct feedback from them and scoped it down in a way that delivered value right out of the gate.

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Envoy Mobile 1.0

Envoy Design

Stories and ideas from designers that challenge the…

Thanks to Keaton Taylor, Katie Riley, Amy Devereux, and Tina Xu

Jon Rundle

Written by

Product Designer @envoy, founder @trebleapps. Follow me on Twitter: @jonrundle

Envoy Design

Stories and ideas from designers that challenge the workplace status quo.

Jon Rundle

Written by

Product Designer @envoy, founder @trebleapps. Follow me on Twitter: @jonrundle

Envoy Design

Stories and ideas from designers that challenge the workplace status quo.

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