If it isn't broken fix it!

Community Messenger was a very challenging project for the company. It was a product that needed a major overhaul from design, to development. Our team went through hell getting this product out, however final results and returns were extremely successful.

My Role

User Expereince, Graphic Design, Ideation, Product Development

Timeframe

18 months | 2015 - 2016

Platforms

Responsive Desktop, Android App, IOS App

The Problem

Out with the Old

Text-a-resident(its original name) was a product that allowed Apartment managers to communicate via text with their residents. It was a product that had significant potential; however, it wasn’t initially created for text messaging. The company was using a platform designed for email campaigns and not text messaging. This produced tons of custom features and over complicated the user experience, not to mention it became costly to maintain. Additionally, the company had 16,000 customers using our other services and only 400 customers using this one. This created an opportunity to capitalize on the current user base that was enormous.

Here are a few screens of the previous website.

The Approach

Redesign or Rebuild

Acting as the user experience person for this project, I began to redesign our current product which badly needed a facelift simply. However, during the process, I spoke to our engineers, customer service specialist, and our offshore team. Using their feedback, I created a list of issues for the current product and a list of items that would make it a better product.

Questions

We all begin to wonder if it were possible to start from scratch and what would that look like.

The team started the process of searching for alternative texting services, as well as reaching out to our in-house development team for development timelines of a project this size.

Research

Hammering out the Details

I began to review the current product and all its key features. I then spoke with a few current users and the product owner. Finally, we created a list of features that would be essential for us to replace the existing product.
Next I mapped out what the new journey would look like.

The Solution

Show and Tell

We knew we would have to tackle creating a desktop version first simply because our current product only existed on desktop. So I created some interactive wireframes to present to the team showing a users journey and critical features needed to create the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
After getting feed back from the team and stakeholders about the wireframes, I was able to create high fidelity mocks to present.
With the mocks approved, I was asked to create a projected development timeline for the MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

Major Changes

Midway through early development, we were hit with a significant change in direction, the business wanted to make the product as fresh and appealing as possible. It was mandated that we make the site responsive and create apps to go along with it.
This lead to exploratory conversations with our development team. We asked them how we could do all these additions without a significant change in our timeline. The idea of creating the entire product using googles material principles and UI elements became a reliable solution. Choosing material design, we would be able to leverage a familiar coding language for our development and be able to scale the designs quickly. Material it is!.

Additional Research

A Fresh Start

Changing the design approach was a new opportunity for myself and the team. We had never used material principles as a primary design direction. I dove headfirst into the design principles of material. I learned how we could leverage the design concepts on all of the platforms we planned to create for.
This then led to a discussion with the marketing team about branding and taking advantage of a fresh product. We all agreed that it was time for a name change to the product to go with the new UI.
After a few iterations and conversations we agreed on a new name for Text-A-Resident, we renamed it Community Messenger.

Design

Lets create the blueprints

After the direction change, I went back to the drawing board and created UI for the responsive desktop site and ios app using material concepts.
I worked closely with the development team to get all the small details just right with look and feel of the desktop and apps.

Launch

Adding the polish

After months of development, we were getting closer to going live. This presented an opportunity to provide support to our sales team. So we reached out to the marketing and filming teams to help with messaging and copy. I then designed a landing page describing product features and customer benefits.

Checkout the promo video we created.

Reflection

No pain, No gain

The product took about 6 months longer than projected to complete due to all the changes. However, the product was and still is a great success for the company increasing its 400 paid customers to 1600 within 6 months of its launch. I learned that change is complicated to adjust to even if you are aware it's for the better. If I were to change anything, I would have enjoyed the process more. Because being in a constant hurry, you fail to understand what you accomplished along the way.

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