Printerpoint Case Study



CLIENT: SEPIALINE
ROLE: BRANDING • UX • FRONTEND UI • CREATIVE DIRECTOR



Background



Sepialine is a software company in San Francisco that creates print tracking software. I was brought on as the Creative Director to oversee the development of a new SaaS product that we named Printerpoint. I oversaw all of the branding efforts including design and implementation of the website, HTML email design, print collateral and gave the product its look and feel, and was the UX and UI director for all front-end design and development.


The business model was two-pronged: monthly subscription based on how many devices were being monitored, as well as capturing a percentage of revenue from consumables.






Challenges



The base concept behind Printerpoint was clear: resellers of wide format printers can easily monitor their fleet of printers in the wild, and know at a glance if there are any problems. The first challenge was knowing what information users would find useful, for which models of printers.


Secondly, once we've determined which information will be displayed, I needed to understand my users well enough that I could develop a UX that they would embrace, use–and most importantly–pay for. I needed to anticipate UI that could handle empty states, light use, and large enterprise environments with 40,000 devices.



Stakeholder Interviews



Before any design began, it was important to conduct stakeholder interviews so that I had a very clear picture of the business objectives driving this project. It was also a time for me to get quickly up to speed with this very niche industry.



Audience



After Stakeholder interviews, the target audience was quite clear: Resellers of wide-format printers. These are predominately men, in their 50s who fall in the late majority category of any sort of technology adoption. They are salespeople who want to make more money and don't want technology to get in the way.


I relied heavily on our own sales team to provide me valuable input regarding this demographic, as well as reseller who were willing to talk to me about the frustrations and "must haves" with the technology they use every day.



Persona Development



My approach to developing personas is a blend of skills I bring from the ad agency world as well as common approaches found in software development. It's agency message strategy tactics blended with first encounter and ongoing use scenarios.



Information Architecture



For this project, thinking about the Information Architecture was essential–and complex. I worked with the CEO, Director or Product as well as the Engineering team to map out objectives. To balance development investments and feature sets against business objectives. Clearly, the unknown was a priority. We knew that the UI and backend needed to be flexible enough to change quickly. I knew the UI had to be modular to accommodate a rapidly changing industry, and that we needed a foundation of an architecture that could react within a 2 week Sprint...and push.






The Dashboard Is Dead. Long live the Dashboard.



I sit in front of an amazing piece of technology every day. Yes, it can gather data, and display pie charts, bar charts, and Key Performance Indicators...But the user still has to do all of the interpretation.


We needed to create a SaaS that once you signed up and got it set up, you'd never need to log in again if you didn't want to. If there was a problem with a printer on the second floor out in Texas? You got an email. Time to bill the client? You get an email with a .csv. You never need to look at your dashboard unless you're curious.






Sketching



With a really big idea, and a really vague idea of how the Hell I'm going to tackle this, I start to sketch.


My "sketches" for this project took many forms. Sometimes I would jam out several UI ideas in Illustrator because it was faster than an actual sketch. Often, I would create high fidelity, interactive concepts because I knew it would be a better way to quickly communicate (and save the time of 5 or 6 meetings) with the stakeholders...and I could show code to the engineering team.


And yes. At sometimes it was simply pencil on paper.



Wireframing



The beauty of wireframing is that people don't get hung up on specifics. It's the Greek text of UI, and can be a powerful tool to communicate ideas, get sign off from Engineering, and get buy-in on a design idea without the distractions of specifics. I employed wireframing frequently when meeting with Engineers.





Visual Design



Once we were ready to move beyond Bootstrap for initial proof of concept, it was time to look at this product's multiple design layers, and how they'd all come together. First was taking a close look at the branding of this new product, and how it would integrate with other brands at Sepialine. It was a new idea but was a nice compliment to Sepialine's flagship product which had tremendous leverage in the industry. I wanted to keep the branding in the family. So I started playing with pallet, and the branding of the product before I began any visual design on the UI.





With a logo in hand, I moved on to the marketing website. This allowed me to hone in on a palette, typography, language, feel, and rhythm. It started to create a personality that ideally, I wanted to have carry over to the product.






The design approach for the SaaS was above all, modular. Each 'component' that would be added was a feature being added to the SaaS, and could take as little as a single sprint (2 weeks) or sometimes 2 or 3 sprints to implement. So the design needed to accommodate empty (or mostly empty) states, and be flexible enough to absorb new components into the UI without breaking the design.







Developing the Style Guide



It was important to be to plan time to build a style guide incrementally from the moment basic design fundamentals began to cement. Not only is the reference a guide for myself and other front-end designers, but it is also shared with both the engineering team and our QA team as a reference point when working on the backend.







Outcome



Printerpoint is an ongoing project, but doing quite well, and rapidly being adopted and becoming the industry standard. I doubt very much that our exceptionally talented team at Sepialine will ever stop innovating, listening, and keeping ahead of what's happening in the industry.