What YouTube has done for videos, Verold has aimed to do for 3D content. Those working with 3D files on a regular basis are facing the same issues video creators were 10 years ago - the passing back and forth of huge files, only viewable with proprietary software, not to mention expensive production equipment. As a result, industrial designers, architects, creative coders, often share 2D image or video renders - losing the magic of the inherent interactivity of the original 3D file.
Redesign of Verold.com
Lead UX / UI Designer
Verold Studio is a browser-based 3D editor that harnesses WebGL capabilities to let anyone turn 3D content into interactive presentations on the web. With a complex subject like 3D, the redesign of Verold.com aimed to clearly communicate what Verold Studio could do, and more importantly, what value it could bring to 3D content creators.
The redesign began as an incremental change to a couple of invisible features that required a lot of attention: documentation, tutorials, and support. As we experimented with new designs for our nearly non-existent documentation section, we began to form hypotheses that this new design could facilitate clearer communication sitewide and provide a better baseline for reaching our success metrics.
The key success metric was number of published projects (Public or Private) created. Our goal was to eliminate the friction between signing up and publishing a project by focusing on each step in the process and streamlining it as much as possible, from signing up and uploading a 3D model, to onboarding and tutorials in the editor that would teach users how to set up materials and tweak environments.
For this project, I led the UX/UI design of everything that surrounds the Verold Studio editor - marketing pages, documentation, user profiles, project pages, and account settings. I worked closely with our CEO, front end developer and 3D graphics engineers to make sure we were accurately communicating the complex capabilities of Verold in a digestible way.
We conducted in-person usability studies of our existing site with two goals: to test the content of the marketing site and to find opportunities to create a clearer sign-up flow and path to success.
Overall, participants felt that the homepage didn’t clearly explain what Verold Studio actually was - 'another 3D modelling tool?’ - or what value could be created with Verold Studio - 'what does this do for me?'.
New users could only find actual 3D projects on the ‘Gallery’ page, which was a list of community published projects (often unfinished). Despite our attempts to feature the cream of the crop, participants' first impression of what they were seeing was very underwhelming.
Homepage - Based on our research, we redesigned the homepage with clear use cases, a simple step-by-step overview of using Verold Studio, and used the power of faces to show the value of Verold to the personas we identified.
Features - As a very visual product, many of the features of Verold Studio are better to show, rather than tell. We found projects that best showcased each individual feature and embedded those on the page.
Examples - We created a new "Examples" page to showcase the forefront of Verold's capabilities.
About Us - We built a new company page with our mission, team members (whose breadth of experience in 3D engineering were a boost to our credibility), investor info and featured press and media assets.
Learn - The previous Learn section consisted of a list of rather random tutorials and were rarely updated. It was important to provide a structure for old and new guides, so we grouped the guides by the steps involved in creating a project (setting up your scene, add animation and interaction, collaborating and sharing projects) and into further subcategories for specific features.
As a visual product, we decided to create Getting Started videos for the Learn landing page, which we broke up into short 1-2 minute segments outlining the same steps for creating and publishing a project as we used on the home page.
With the goal to improve onboarding and increase the number of projects being published, I wanted to better understand existing users’ first time experience with Verold Studio. So, I sent out an email everyday for a few weeks to every new user that had signed up the day before, asking what they’d hoped to do after signing up and the number one question they had about getting started.
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people that responded (about 30%) and who took the time to write really thoughtful replies. Many even thanked me for reaching out to them.
Jason Fried’s post on the subject of simple email surveys was key - send a simple, short message that sounds like a real person, even if it’s a canned message. Mentioning the importance of feedback to a small team gives the customer faith that their response will be heard and responded to. An overly designed, clearly automated message wouldn’t have been nearly as effective.
Responses ranged from finding bugs to much appreciated praise. However, one common theme that stuck out was along the lines of “I haven’t had time to try out Verold yet…” or “When I get a chance…”. Users believed getting started was a complicated, time-consuming process because they couldn’t see a clear path to success.
In the onboarding flow, there were a number of steps that created a lot of friction between signing up and experiencing that 'aha' moment as quickly as possible: uploading their model and seeing it in the browser.
Previously, without a 3D model ready to be uploaded, there wasn't much a new user could do. Our aim was to streamline this process and to completely eliminate the number of empty projects created without models.
As part of the redesign, we started implementing MixPanel + People Analytics in order to create a baseline for making data-driven design decisions. We didn't get to act on that data, because as we were developing the site and preparing for more rounds of usability testing, our team got some game-changing news: Box was looking to acquire Verold. As the deal was going on, the site was in limbo. We got it to an MVP state, with not quite as much polish as we would have liked, because the focus then shifted to communicating the acquisition to our users - what it would mean to their accounts, their projects and the transition plan that was being put into place. Our users were sad to see Verold Studio go, but were excited to see how the product would evolve under Box's wing.