powerUp is an innovation management software (SaaS) used by innovation teams at corporate accelerators. Portfolio and innovation managers can organize data, manage initiatives, coordinate teams and report revenue streams to stakeholders.
The entire startup consisted of 6 people: CEO, CTO/software engineer, Governor/Product owner, Growth Hacker, Full Stack Developer, and a Product Designer (me - 😈).
I shaped the early stages of the product by flexing product vision, customer discovery, refining solutions, rapidly testing prototypes, building on a design system, and developing a strategic roadmap.
Below is a general overview of my process, which is sequenced based on implementation risk and certainty. Sometimes I fast forward the process, but always keep the dev team in the loop.
MVP 1.0 was an early stage version of powerUp that was used by a few select clients, who funded the project. Nothing was completely live and we did not even have a website yet.
PowerUp rests within a highly competitive space of other project management tools. The complexity and diversity of these tools is far and wide. Our goal was to be the one tool you need to manage your innovation processes.
I'd use the affinity mapping technique to cluster observations into specific areas in order to identify the hottest spots. Going through each group of insights, we built the logic of the new solution that was aimed to solve problems with creating reports, creating templates, populating the modules with components, navigation, exporting data, etc.
I designed templates to increase speed of use and allow users to start populating their dashboards with data faster. The modular setup was preferred by the majority of our users, however, without a template functionality it decreased speed of use. Adding templates for initiatives, modules, and pages made it much easier for users to get started faster.
Reports were essential to the entire product, as teams needed to report their experiments and initiative progress to portfolio managers and board members. We iterated and improved the reporting features, taking direct feedback from our stakeholders to figure out what kinds of reports were the most useful and which were not.
In terms of UI, I needed a design system that could adapt to the structural changes of our roadmap. The design system was based off of Google Material Design - which visually worked well with the majority of our users who were running on Microsoft. I came up with a basic set of guidelines and rules for using components, to reduce the amount of time spent designing things from scratch, so I could weigh more time into strategic areas for project success.
The second MVP aimed to combine the powerful tools and features of the previous product, but add a newer dimension of report building and sharing amongst different types of users. I designed a prototype for the concept and created a product design roadmap.
The goal was to be the all-in-one tool to help automate and facilitate innovation at big corporates. This product vision transformed however, due to the crazy amount of competitor products and tools already out there. The idea was to build a piece of software that easily integrated with other tools, but alleviated the pains users experienced from legacy systems.
Below is an overview of my process, which is sequenced based on risk level. Sometimes, I fast forward the process, but always keep the dev team in the loop.
The first starting point was for me to create a ‘cupcake model'. This gave us an idea of where we wanted to go and set the stage for the design direction, features to focus, usability and functionality, methods of data visualisation, achieving a founding user base, and much more. A variety of canvases were used to understand the core dimensions of our product and allow the team to enter the minds of the users.
Customer interviews were conducted, speaking with portfolio and innovation managers on their experiences with their data management systems. From that, I developed a holistic journey or behaviour model. This was based on several basic principles:
- Users need to explore initiatives in their organisation
- Users need to brainstorm new ideas
- Users need to easily execute & manage projects
- Users need to analyse results
- Users need to obtain learnings
- Users need to report to stakeholders
We synthesized the findings of the first round of customer interviews into four persona groups, and then created a User Stories Map (USM). The four persona groups are: Board of Directors, Portfolio Managers, Innovation Manager (Team Lead), Initiative Experts. This guided the overall interaction and user experience within the software. Below are the most essential user stories, the actual product consisted of 200+.
Because we were shifting the overall concept for the product, we wanted to test what propositions were the most understandable. I ran 24 5-second tests on Usability Hub, using landing pages of competitors, then ran 40 5-second tests of powerUp landing pages, variated by value propositions and imagery. The top three were then put into a smaller study with 8 real customers. This gave us our first lessons on how to improve communication and how users interpret functionalities.
The prototype aimed to validate hypotheses around report building (which was the greatest change to the design) and interaction between the four personas. There were big changes to navigation. Additionally at this stage, we had still been debating on switching from a modular system (similar to Notion) to a more fixed, template-based system - limiting customisation and focusing more on ease of use. Still we decided to go with the modular system - supporting the functionality by an improvement to user onboarding, as the open functionality allowed more creative freedom for the user and supported our goals of shaping the product around our customers.
Our main hypotheses tested whether global navigation and including reporting in the main navigation hierarchy improved usability and speed of use. This was measured by a task completion score.
After validation and getting feedback from stakeholders of our first prototype, the next step was to build a bigger roadmap so we could focus on the details and build out with new features. I created a tentative roadmap for product design, that was flexible in accordance to customer discovery. I organised the roadmap into themes, with relative ideas for features needed by the end of each milestone.