The Cat of Wall Street and design concept for developing a new product

Inès Mir
Nimax
Published in
5 min readDec 18, 2017

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Recently my colleague and friend Daria Barinova asked me to give her an interview about our approach to developing a new product in Nimax Agency. It was published in our corporate newsletter #8 and I took it on myself to translate a part of it into English, ’cause I think there are some interesting thoughts I want to share. Hopefully you’ll find it helpful.

You can also read the original interview in Russian and then subscribe to our mailing list so that you don’t miss the next one 😉

See you there!

On Specia.Conf in Saint Petersburg you talked about concepts for developing a new product in Nimax. Can you shortly explain what they are?

I talked about an approach that I’d found while working on different new products in Nimax. With rapid application development that we practice in the agency there’s often not enough time to put together comprehensive guidelines for all elements, behaviours, and content in a project. Thus a designer faces a challenge to create a product vision for every member of the team — including the client — at a very early stage. And usually design references look like a board on Pinterest with beautiful examples of perfectly designed pieces from other projects that the designer wants to try for their new product. The thing is that a non-designer often can’t understand those examples.

In that case, it can be useful to compare your product to a well-known character. I love to use mass-media characters because it’s relevantly easy and mostly fun to get to know them. For instance, we once worked on a product where the client came up with an idea of adding a cat character in the middle of the project. One of those last-minute ideas, you know. The key visuals had already been set by then and we faced a complicated task — how to integrate a cat into the existing design system.

Leo DiCaprio came to the rescue. So we named the concept “The Cat of Wall Street”.

He looks at new customers with a sleek canny face and encourages them to try the service.
There is no catch, heaven forbid.

The main idea of this service is bidding (as on ebay), but to place a bid you have to ask 10 of your friends to join you within 24 hours. So as the time goes by the cat gets angrier with every minute.

And then, when a bid is over and you have happened to win, the cat is happier than ever and is ready to help you through the order placing process.

It looks funny and easy but in the fast-paced process of project development it really helped the team to stay on the same page and to share a vision of what the product can and can’t say. It also became much more fun to work on this project and stirred up сreative thinking in all of the team members.

Of course, such characters won’t live outside your team’s working process and you’ll still have to spell out official guidelines for your product, but at least with this approach you can do it a bit later :)

How can a brand’s nature be represented through interface? Can you make an example?

Anything in the interface can point to a brand’s nature — content, interactions, scenarios, priorities. Better keep your character in mind while working on a project, then new ideas will come naturally.

Sadly, I can’t make an example of how we worked with the text content in this project, it would be lost in translation, but it’s one of the most powerful parts of the concept.

Animated interactions was the second useful tool in project development . We rewatched the movie to get inspired by its crazy atmosphere.

And here how it is represented in the actual interface:

How should a character be described for a designer to be able to work with them?

In any way possible :) However, it’s important that not only designers could understand this, but also any other member of the team. I choose to use a picture of a character with a small piece of text next to it where I emphasise what traits of their personalitу I’m interested in the most. There are no strict rules on how to do that, you just have to be clear in your explanation.

Don’t be faceless or you’ll be forgotten, that’s all I want to say!

Apart from the original interview you can also watch my lecture on Youtube (it’s also in Russian).

Hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to give me any feedback; I would also gladly see your own examples.

Bye!

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Inès Mir
Nimax
Writer for

Principal product designer at Zalando and Instagram influencer @ines.ux