Kadoo was a social media portal that offered users one place to manage (edit, share, store etc.) all their digital assets (photos, email, bookmarks, videos, files, calendar, blogs, groups, etc.), network, communicate (chat, email), etc. with a more granular sharing than offered anywhere else - At the time.

The original landing page was a concept that came to fruition in a participatory design session with users. This evolved to include moving definitions to (i) info icons, and a simpler presentation that came an overview of the product and allowed users to quickly navigate to desired content or tool.

THE CHALLENGE
When I arrived the company had been up and running for a year. In that time, they had established the architecture and the 18 subsystems. They had also burned through $1m. Within 24 hours I realized the work was not organized, and there wasn't a plan or vision for of what needed to be done, how it would be done, and when it would be done. I initiated conversations with the Lead Engineers - "Call me kookie but I need some organization!" They, of course, agreed. Within hours, we had agreed upon the need for a project plan and began those conversations, UX deliverables, and that we would work "down and dirty" yet very collaboratively.
By the end of the first week we established internal processes, and the second week a project plan to meet the Board's baseline requirements and milestones, we spent the next 5 months working in tight sprints (Agile) in which I led the DC technical and product teams in quickly defining each subsystem, fleshing out requirements and scope of each sprint, monitoring progress, and implementing a few global design patterns. We met milestones with consciously sacrificing usefulness and usability. I did manage to implement some consistent design patterns and nail down the business objective and user value for each subsystem. After that, I led the team in focusing on defining a competitive baseline release that would be useful and usable, yet innovative.
The challenge was to establish a baseline product for release that will engage users and teach them about the broad offering and how to can enhance their life, while facilitating their investment in Kadoo to ensure they become active members who contribute and increase the Kadoo community. We were given 6 weeks.

The existing product and design offered its own UX and Product challenges:

The original design had several "violations" of heuristics and baseline testing was expected to reveal several critical usability issues. This is an example of the original design, the default background was a bright Kadoo red/orange patterns that bled through each display module which gave a fractured impression and anti-cohesiveness. The use of red and orange would most likely distract users from navigating within the page with its intensity and red's ability to disrupt cognition. Every element was in its own card supporting a fractured impression. Each element had a graphic accent. There were 4 different visual design treatments in play. The layout was not optimal for 3-tiers of navigation. The logo was in a blind area. Sign-posting, orientation, and consistent design patterns were not harnessed to facilitate an introduction, engagement, and/or investment.

THE APPROACH
I knew to accomplish what we needed to accomplish would require a unified vision of what needed to be built, and how it would be used, to ensure a cohesive effort as we concurrently on facets that should be worked on sequentially.

Establish a holistic vision of Kadoo and for each of its 18 subsystems to ensure a cohesive experience for users.
Designed & Conducted:
> Baseline Usability Testing with User Profile Surveys to understand the current state and learn a bit more about the users and how they relate to the product (qualitative data)
> Satisfaction Surveys (Weighted Likert-Scale) with testing to gather a quantitative measurement of users' perception of the usability and usefulness.
> User Interviews to validate our assumptions and expand our understanding of our users current needs and perceptions of social media
> Conducted Focus group to measure opinions to Homepage Approaches/Designs to align with brand
> Conducted Participatory Design with users and company team members to explore solutions and get some multi-discipline
> Worked with the team to flesh out design patterns and features
> Conducted iterative paper prototype testing to quickly incorporate research and validation findings and refine definition of subsystems, redefine features, and establish design patterns with users to validate each step, and inform the next.
> Trained team to conduct card sorting, paper prototyping, and participatory design sessions to expand the support and boast their morale and buy-in by expanding their skills, incorporating their responses to findings, and expediting the effort.
CONSIDERATIONS
The first iteration was based primarily on the CTO and Board's vision of Kadoo seasoned with ideas from others. I worked to gather formalize the definition and defined business objective, purpose and supporting goals in addition to the primary goal - Meet the established deadlines. I established a Product Book to capture our work as we go and create a reference in this quick paced environment.
> The 18 subsystems shared code, and with each assigned to one of the 4 engineering teams, not considering the relationship code and subsystems.
> Engineers were establishing this first pass at the subsystems with little input from me, and high resistance to design patterns from one of four teams.
> The code quality was "prototype" but the intent was to launch the prototype (of course).
> The architecture was set.
> The bug count was high and growing with the shared code.
> Engineers were faced with challenging sprints per deadlines.

I established a product book for each subsystem - a holistic approach to documentation. I worked with the CTO (visionary) and product and team teams to create unified visions of each subsystem with business objectives and user goals, related personas and their tasks were added later. Each sprint and release were also defined.

I worked collaboratively in "sandboxes" and iterate on designs, working collaboratively with the team to design and review and refine. The yellow and red notes are from different teams to be integrated into the wireframes. This is the iteration on sharing and tagging which shared design patterns. I worked remote with CTO and Architect while designers and techs were in the same office.

My sandbox for navigation. Testing revealed that navigation between and within subsystems was a critical problem with a lack of global design patterns. I advocated for Top/Top/Left to allow for more room to work within the subsystem. However the CTO preferred Left/Left/Top. I conceded to Left/Left/Top, and he conceded to not having a graphic treatment for every control, and having only one graphic treatment.

Each subsystem had a map and interaction flows (not shown) that depicted the integration of features/subsystems as well as navigation to empower everyone to work cohesively while working concurrently.

High-fidelity wireframes were used for paper prototype testing. To explore the impact of visual design on usability and its support of Interaction Design patterns, the wireframes were stripped of non-essential visual design elements. A secondary palette was introduced and worked into the testing iterations to vet that it improved the user experience. Other elements were added over iterations to vet them individually.

A conceptual wireframe depicting the detailed needs. During testing it was discovered during our refinement (post-testing) that the architecture would have to change to meet user needs and business goals. The architect needed a holistic view of what needed to be supported.

THE RESULTS
It was clear that 6 Subsystems had to be deferred relating to limits imposed by architecture (needed to re-architect) and the inability to meet basic user needs and introduce baseline features.
Within 6 weeks we:
> Immediately redesigned - Contacts, Portal (member landing), Homepages (other's view), Photos, eCommerce, settings/preferences because they did not resonate with users - not meeting primary task needs to establish a relationship and investment in Kadoo.
> Introduced new landing pages to facilitate engagement and investment during initial use.
> Established global design patterns across subsystems to ensure learn-ability, error-tolerance, and ease of use facets of usability as well as efficient development.
> Defined & designed sharing and tagging within the context of Contacts.
> Approach to visual designs was refined to improve usability and accurately relay branding, and engage users (acquisition) to invest in Kadoo.
> Landing pages for kadoo and subsystem included new IA - introducing subsystem and surfacing existing content available within Kadoo to support engagement/acquisition.
> The biggest disconnect from user needs could not be addressed in time. It was envisioned for the second version, but never came to fruition.
>Launched at Demo Sept 2008. Kadoo was sold a few months later with most of us being laid-off before the sale not benefitting from our equity.

The design issues that were preventing users from understanding the offering, engaging with the product and subsysems, and the fractured visual experience were addressed. I could not convince the CTO to not default to the red/orange background pattern. The final testing and beta use were moderately successful, but the gap between user expectations and the overall product were a final hurdle to adoption that was not released before sale.

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