Grip is a software company, that offers automated content generation based on photorealistic 3D for multiple international brands.
Grip doesn't aim at the creative part of agencies work, only the on-brand mass-production. Things like Heineken beer bottles labeled correctly for every country and language, rendered in 4K, at any required angle, in minutes. As opposed to days and weeks with traditional agency cycles. Its quite a technology.
But its known in a very small group of top managers and marketeers. And that was the major limiting factor for growth.
Reinvent a web-appliction for a B2B web-based platform that provides automation of visual assets, aimed at multinational consumer brands.
My responsibilities: Product Team Lead, Product Design, Graphic Design.
Interviews with active users showed a few repeating patterns: the original platform design was overwhelmed by a growing toolset, some presets and settings were confusing and abstract, and a lot of users conducted their operations through Grip’s API, effectively bypassing the interface.
Moreover, walkthroughs with users that were not familiar with the Grip interface demonstrated that powerful features such as scalability, infinite variability and photorealism were not intuitive.
People wanted a simple tool to upload and adjust their imagery - be it to replace labels, make quick sketches, or generate images to be used in their day-to-day activities such as advertising or marketing campaigns.
All qualitative and quantitative data called for a pivot to a more friendly, casual and engaging interface - that demonstrated the platform’s possibilities for everyday users in a natural way.
Two key users were chosen from L’Oreal, a world leader in personal care products and one of Grip’s clients.
Marketing Project Manager, working in the central L’Oreal team in Paris (DMI) for the make-up portfolio.
Responsible for overseeing content production on global campaigns with local influence.
Marketer, working in the USA for e-commerce content and activations.
Responsible for creating campaign content on a bi-weekly basis, often local (e.g. 4th of July promotions on Amazon.com).
Both of them highlighted requirements derived from their daily needs and job responsibilities:
The holistic goal for Grip was to improve the engagement of their current client base and further expand into new markets and mid-sized client segments.
The way towards achieving this goal was simplified into letting anyone create rich visual content for any product, to be used in any medium, in any location in the world, whenever required.
As a result, design goals were chosen as follows:
The interface was built to showcase key elements that users are familiar with or know of intuitively: the inventory of their brand, creations from their or adjacent teams, new arrivals and the recent items worked on by the user.
The left-side panel was reserved for libraries of predefined items that users can browse through and use, as well as operating modes for their design work.
The right-side panel was built as a simple list of layers, where each layer was an independent effect (e.g. backgrounds, objects, text, imagery such as logos).
Predefined objects all allow for precise adjustments in positioning, tilt and perspective. Regardless of which product and objects the user would choose, the result will be photorealistic.
And there are many predefined objects in Grip: hands (i.e. that can hold the product), tables (i.e. where the product can be placed), textures, full-body individuals, as well as larger elements such as stages, podiums, pavements bathed in sunlight, and much more.
The interface was further refined to reduce complexity to the minimum through simple numeric inputs, sliders, and dials that are fully intuitive.
At no point were tutorials or hints taken into account in the design strategy. The interface had to be simple and intuitive, and any form of external intervention translated to failure of our design. Nearly all of the time spent on the user interface was dedicated to this, and the results were successful.
So that anyone can understand 'what it does' by just looking at it.
We did not set out to create a unique interface, nor a new paradigm to showcase the user experience of our product. In fact, we did quite the opposite through seeking out what users already expect.
We focused on simplicity and ease of use. Our goal was to make the interface intuitive, and our decision-making and testing revolved around what the end-user would experience as they discovered all of the features available in Grip.
Each control surface, each effect, each strength dial and even the names of each module were rigorously tested with this in mind. We wanted to be sure beyond any doubt that everyone would know at a glance what something is, and what it does.
While this meant adhering to tried and tested industry standards, there were things that needed special care - as for example adapting the placement of controls for the 3 axis of rotation.
While our prototype received praise, the true test was in exposing it to the real-world. In the 3 months following our release in the live environment we saw a 45.3% uplift in user activity, coupled with a 29% increase in user retention across all brands that were exposed to the new design.
One thing to note: the new design is still in testing, pending a full release to all users.