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.
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:
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.
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.
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.