UX Design adds capacity and accelerates launch

Evosus is a 20-year-old software company that focuses on ERP systems for retailers and service companies. The Evosus team has traditionally emphasized functionality over design and user experience. But, when it came time to create a UX design for a new application targeting small pool and spa service businesses, Evosus went searching for a team that could do great UX design work while allowing its in-house team to focus on what it does best without disrupting the core business. The ability to find a third-party for UX design services would allow the Evosus team to maintain focus on other priorities while accelerating the launch of the new app. The search for a UX design partner led Evosus to Singlemind.

What we did

  • Competitive product and brand analysis
  • UX heuristics audit
    Product strategy workshop
  • User persona development
  • Interaction design
  • Digital brand evolution
  • Scalable design system planning and production
  • Visual design

Business Challenge

There are about 5 million small and mid-size service businesses across the United States. Some are large operations with dozens or even hundreds of employees. But, for the most part, service businesses are much smaller companies with just a handful of employees. In many cases, a service business may be an owner-operator with one van for hauling equipment and tools from job to job.
 
Evosus is dominating the market with an enterprise-level ERP for larger service businesses. But it wanted to attack the larger, more consumer-level market with a new product to help small businesses grow. Evosus wanted to start with an app for pool and spa service companies, and then scale that app to other service businesses.
 
While the Evosus team had successfully created the enterprise-level application, it did not necessarily have the experience needed to create an app for small business owners — one that would emphasize simplicity and user-friendliness while empowering owners to more easily schedule jobs and get paid for them. Also, given competing priorities, Evosus’ in-house team did not have the time required to effectively design this second application.
 
The business opportunity and challenges were clear. Evosus had the chance to grow its business by creating an application for a large and profitable target audience. But it needed outside support to take advantage of that opportunity and maximize its revenue potential.
 
That’s where Singlemind stepped in. We lead Evosus every step of the way, including basic wire-framing and creation of a well-thought-out UX design, to create a product that is not only functional but that also provides users with the simplicity and ease of use that they need.

Assessment

The Singlemind team launched this UX design engagement with a design discovery process. This process includes determining the ultimate goal that the project should achieve, identifying constraints within the project, defining what the design process will look like, plus more.
 
Evosus came to this UX design project with learnings the team had gleaned from the creation and launch of its enterprise application for service businesses. Evosus’ VP of product had taken those learnings and created a document that outlined a vision for the second mass-appeal application targeted to smaller businesses.
 
At Singlemind, we followed our design discovery process by taking that document and filtering it through our expertise in modern UX design and UI best practices, as well as the wealth of knowledge we’ve collected about marketable products and how to make using them as easy as possible for customers.

Technical Assessment Overview

  • Service Requirements
    - What are the core feature/service requirements?
    - What are the long-term goals?
    - Are there expectations around integrations with other platforms
  • Audience/Performance Requirements
    - Is this a B2B or B2C product?
    - Is this a cloud/web based or desktop/mobile product?
    - What are the legal security and privacy requirements?
    - What are the accessibility, localization, and internationalization requirements
  • Technologies
    - What technologies best serve the requirements?
    - Are there any off-the-shelf products or services that could be used to reduce effort?
    - Does the client have tools/technologies they already use we can leverage or need to be sensitive of?
    - What software or other licenses might we need to keep track of?
  • Infrastructure
    - Does the client have existing service infrastructure?
    - What infrastructure best serves the requirements?
    - What infrastructure components allow for flexibility and future growth?
    - What infrastructure is needed for initial launch?
    - What infrastructure is needed for customer support?
    - What infrastructure is needed for internal maintenance/support?
  • Vendors
    - Which vendor(s) meet the requirements for a service/tool?
    - What are the licensing/SLA terms for a given vendor?
    - Does a vendor have easy account/service management?
    - Does a vendor create an undue dependency or 'vendor lock-in'?
    - Does the vendor platform agnostic or is it opinionated?
    - What are the update/maintenance policies?

Implementation

The journey from design discovery and early meetings to a final UX design that was ready to go to engineering was a long one. Singlemind worked alongside the Evosus team from start to finish, applying our experience and knowledge to make recommendations that would maximize the application’s potential while maintaining Evosus’ initial vision and goals for what the app could be.
Understanding the Vision
In a UX design project, it’s rare that clients come to an engagement with as many concrete ideas as what Evosus had developed. It’s undoubtedly better to work with initial ideas than it is to work with no direction at all, but it was important to gain a deep understanding of that vision upfront before any work began. international product development and testing teams.
 
The Singlemind team spent significant time with the VP of product and the documentation he had created to make sure that our understanding of the vision was clear. This early work was foundational to ensuring that we could lead the project to the outcomes that Evosus desired.
Researching the Market
Evosus leveraged findings from the creation and launch of its enterprise application for larger service businesses to create its initial vision for a second application. But there’s a great deal of nuance in creating a UX design for an application that is both highly attractive and helpful to its target audience. Given that nuance, the Singlemind team sought to supplement Evosus’ findings with additional market research.
We looked at forums, Facebook pages and other places where people were talking about issues related to operating a small service business. We used these sources to answer questions like:
 
  • Who will be buying the product?
  • Who will be using the app?
  • Why will they use the app?
  • What will be the users’ general comfort level with technology?
  • Will we be adding work to their life? Or simplifying their job?
  • What are the daily tasks these users struggle with the most?
 
The buyer and end user of an application like this are not always the same person. There’s a difficult balance between creating an application that the buyer will want to buy and also that the user will want to use. By answering these questions early in the process, Singlemind would be better positioned to create a UX design that would strike the perfect balance.
Agile Training & Implementation
We provided "What is Agile" training to all product development teams. By guiding their teams with industry standards and best practices, we were able to shed light on the benefits of Agile operations (even in mechanical and electrical engineering departments). With modern Agile foundations in place, we provided oversight to ensure Agile principles and practices were carried out properly. With Agile principles requiring demonstrations at the end of each two-week sprint, stakeholders could now visibly review each product development team's progress as they worked through their projects.
Defining the Possible
To bring Evosus’ initial vision to life would require a significant investment and a timeline measured in years rather than months. To accelerate time to launch, Singlemind collaborated with Evosus to define what would be possible in an initial release. The guiding philosophy for UX design on this project was: The initial release can have anything but it can’t have everything. That philosophy helped the team collectively prioritize the most important aspects of the project so that a reasonable budget and timeline could be established and applied.
Iterating on Wireframes
Pairing Evosus’ initial vision with supplementary market research, we went into a period of rapid iteration using wireframes. As with any UX design project, jumping into high-fidelity layouts too early in the process makes changes more difficult and can cause an array of additional problems at later stages of the project. The wireframes allowed both the teams from Evosus and Singlemind to go back-and-forth quickly, testing ideas and responding to mockups in a way that pushed the project forward in a timely manner.
Creating the Look & Feel
As we concluded the wireframe process, it was time to start thinking about art direction. What should this application look and feel like? Evosus had not previously done much brand work for its enterprise application, so Singlemind evolved what that enterprise app looked and felt like to develop branding that would be appropriate for the second application for smaller service businesses.
During this portion of the UX design process, the team considered all aspects of the user experience, including animations and movement through the application. When needed brand illustrations did not exist, the Singlemind team created bespoke illustrations with a focus on ensuring that all drawings communicated the right ideas and generated the desired user experience.
Personalizing & Planning for the Future
One fun part of the project was thinking through what the brand illustrations would look like stylistically. The Singlemind team saw the style question as an opportunity to provide a higher level of personalization for users of the application.
For example, for empty searches the team created an illustration of an empty water bucket that would demonstrate to pool service professionals that the app was designed specifically for their work. The goal was to ensure that all users feel like they are getting a personalized experience catered to their needs.
This approach to the illustrations and overall style of the UX design can be scaled and adapted in the future as Evosus targets service professionals beyond just pool and spa companies. The empty water bucket used for empty searches could be swapped out for an illustration of a chimney tool when the user works for a chimney sweeping company.
Empowering Engineering
Successful UX design projects aren’t merely handed off to an engineering team. The transition from design to engineering requires ongoing collaboration, adjustments and updates. Even an app that’s designed for simplicity and ease of use includes many intricacies and complexities. The Singlemind team stayed on to help engineering navigate those intricacies and complexities in a way that maintained the original vision and that ultimately allowed Evosus to achieve the business outcomes it wanted from the start.

Outcome

Evosus selected Singlemind as its UX design partner for this project because Singlemind offered capacity and experience that Evosus couldn’t replicate in-house. Evosus needed a partner that could help them sidestep their in-house constraints to take advantage of the clear revenue opportunity this app represented. While the journey from the initial source document to final, high-fidelity designs was lengthy, the outcome was exactly what the Evosus team had envisioned from the start.
"Singlemind brought our product to life, it went from these planning sessions where we didn’t quite know what we wanted conceptually to here’s the color palette, here are the fonts, here’s what this thing actually looks like."
Dan McManus, CEO at Evosus
The UX design work that Singlemind did for Evosus’ new application has even influenced the company’s overall branding and started to make its way back into the original ERP product. The UX design project went so successfully that Evosus chose to expand the engagement to include design implementation. Evosus has committed to continue relying on Singlemind for projects that require more time and more expertise than Evosus has in-house.

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