Concept Design by Eli Sebastian Brumbaugh

Turning passion + technology into an experience

A Design Journey — from Prototype to Dreamforce (Part 1)

How the UX Design Shop experience was born from the Salesforce UX team with the right dose of passion, people, design, and technology.

This is the first in a series of posts by the Salesforce UX team in which we will share what we learned while building an immersive Internet-of-Things (IoT) journey based on Salesforce technology.

A bit of background…

It has nothing to do with the Journey, the game or the band! So I shared a screenshot of my favorite game!

The Journey, the game, just because I like it!

The number of devices around our life, body, home, office and city spots, are increasing everyday. In 2020, over 30 billion connected devices will be in use. [Gartner]

This massive network of smart devices will capture and learn a lot about your life, habits, movements, and likes. It’s our job to use this data responsibly to build better experiences.

The Apple Watch, for example, might capture your health data. If your blood pressure is high, your doctor could instantly order a prescription for you and have it delivered instantly. Your fridge could track on what sort of beer you have and send an alert when you’re running low on Pilsner. This new IoT ecosystem will change the way we drink, sleep, date, study, work, talk, exercise, travel, and shop.

It will also bring new technical challenges, privacy, and security. We need to truly design the user experiences beyond the screen. The user experience will need to be thought of from the beginning of the journey. Waking in the morning, opening your fridge, passing by your favorite coffee shop, logging in at work, and maybe monitoring your sleeping behavior.

The UX Design Shop Experience

Our UX Design Shop project brought together many different UX roles and proved to be one of the highlights of Dreamforce 2014.

I work as an engineer in the Salesforce User Experience (UX) group, a team of designers, researchers, and developers. Midway through 2014, we started to plan for Dreamforce, Salesforce’s huge annual conference in San Francisco. Each year the UX team has a dedicated area in the Developer Zone, a space aimed at inspiring our tech community.

My goal was to bring together a team of researchers, designers, and engineers, to show how Salesforce technology can be used to push the boundaries of user experience beyond the screen and learn more about our customers. We embodied this in a Journey that spanned 4 stations.

Dreamforce attendees signed up for our customer research program, designed, and received a personalized T-shirt by simulating a futuristic retail experience.

Step 1

Get started checking-in by scanning your (NFC powered) Dreamforce badge.

Step 2

Choose your T-shirt size and color.

Step 3

Select your T-shirt design via our design shop!

Powered by our friends at Technical Machine and their awesome technology.

Step 4

Go and pick up your printed T-shirt!

How the journey started…

When you bring my teammates Amy and Eli, a developer and designer together, some very interesting things happen. During our lunch break, between burgers and salads, we share our geeky passions for iBeacons. It didn’t take us long start building a project.

Inspired by the mission of Salesforce to “connect with customers in a whole new way,” combining our passion for innovation, art, and technology, we soon found ourselves building a quick prototype. We gave a quick demo to executives, and we got some amazing feedback and further encouragement right away. We had no choice but to do it!

We had to go beyond slides, static designs, and the couple hours of work we had invested to build the prototype. We had to build the real thing. We had to build a system to handle 100k potential customers, available 24/7, and meet the high user experience expectations of our customers.

Dreamforce was only one month away and this was our side project. We still had our normal duties and deadlines. But we were optimistic — Let’s do this!

Early stage prototype — including spelling mistake!

Our excitement led to more team members catching our enthusiasm and offering to help:

  • Richard, a former user researcher, helped build the physical store and got his coding chops back!
  • Sönke put our Salesforce infrastructure in place.
  • Ivan took the opportunity to build an Android app to learn more about Android SDK.
  • Adam jumped in to build the user form and showcase our work in one console.
  • John did the real time data visualization using Wave.
With Sönke and Ivan from the User Experience Engineering (UXE) Team

The Journey’s main ingredients

Design: From early prototype to final release, user experience was the heart of this project. We focused on the user experience from the beginning using the Dreamforce badges with the NFC enabled devices, to building the physical IoT retail shop, to the big screen visualization and animations, to the user picking up their T-shirt.

Technology: We leveraged the easy-to-configure Salesforce Platform, combined with deploying the app to Heroku, using ExactTarget for customer’s communication and Analytics Wave technology to visualize our data. We quickly realized that our project could showcase a wide array of Salesforce products.

People: I am a great believer in the innovation potential of bringing a multi-disciplinary team together. By leveraging the cross-disciplinary talent in our team, in a very short space of time, we managed to deliver an experience which proved inspiring, educational, and robust (it worked without a glitch!). At the same time, we managed to provide a lot of fun, illustrated by the number of smiles we got back!

Passion: Everything is possible! All you need is passion, curiosity, interest in learning, explore new paradigms, value team collaboration, and it helps to have the encouragement and support of the company. If in doubt, I would highly recommend everyone to invite Amy + Eli for lunch!

What’s next?

The journey continues. I’m looking forward to my second Dreamforce 2015 and am more excited than ever!

We are again in the middle of an industry revolution. We will continue breaking boundaries and building magic!

Over the next few weeks, we will publish a series of posts from different project members covering different aspects of the project: software architecture, physical buildout, visual design, and usability research. This was truly a collaborative effort!

In the meantime, while nothing beats the live experience, if you did not have the chance to join in person, you can still watch a selection of Keynotes and Sessions on

I would like to thank the people that believed in and supported our initiative — the dreamers!

Designed by Brooks Hassig

Thanks to Technical Machine, the makers of Tessel microcontroller we used for this project and Salesforce UX Team: Amy Lee, Eli Brumbaugh, Richard Boardman, Mark Geyer, Sönke Rohde, John Agan, Adam Putinski, Ivan Bogdanov, Jenton Lee, Adam Doti… too many to mention them all. Driven by passion, people went beyond their normal duties and did the extra mile to build something truly amazing.

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