Kore is a intelligent messaging product for the modern workplace. Think Slack but for large enterprise companies who need more control, security, and confidentiality. Kore is perfect for places like hospitals, insurance companies, and banks. When we (that includes myself, our design director, and two designers in Orlando) joined the team in August 2015, Kore was definitely lacking in the design department, and not just in visual design but in the overall user experience. The product had been designed and built by the engineering team, was bloated with features, and was lacking an effortless user experience. As a product designer, it was my role to work alongside the team to significantly improve the the user experience of the beta product and have it ready to be shipped within 6 months.
The sales team tried but couldn’t sell the beta product and there were no real users or metrics to work from. The general feedback from clients was the product was "too confusing". The product team responded with product demo videos, an exhaustive on-boarding experience and tool tips rather than investing in simplifying the product's core experience.
The previous designs:
The CEO asked our team to make "significant improvements" and redesign the beta product. Up to this point, product decisions were based on what "features" could be sold to CIOs, with little consideration given to the experience of an end-user.
It was clear we needed to shift focus to the user if we wanted to succeed. We started with a brand strategy which focused on simplifying workplace communications for the "worker bees of the world".
While conducting our product audit, we found a lot of areas for improvement. Much of the difficulty was understanding the app at a basic level. There were a lot of "features" to parse and their conceptual metaphors were inconsistent and confusing. We came up with a plan to split the project into two phases:
Phase one: Visual clean up and nomenclature update
Phase two: UX overhaul and prioritization of feature
We wanted to validate our own instincts, we did a day of user testing with our target, "worker bees". Most everyone was confused how to navigate the app. A few folks remarked that they could see a huge potential for what the product was trying to accomplish. They understood that we were trying to help their work life and wanted to help.
Our biggest takeaways were that we had to fix prioritize features and making navigating more intuitive.
We felt that using the app for basic activities required too much work.
Getting our own team to use the product was a bit of a chore. It was clear that the we should focus on making the experience more "effortless". To make it feel more effortless, we focused on 3 things: speed, clarity and accessibility.
We drilled into each attribute with specific ways it could manifest in the product experience. This really clicked with the team and helped everyone understand what the strategy meant and what we needed to do next.
Great, so we had a loose strategy, now we needed to execute. We created a set of design principles to unite our design team as we moved into execution mode. These principles were extremely helpful for aligning with stakeholders and justifying the reasoning behind design decisions.
The messaging space was heating up with a new consumer messaging app coming out every week. Peach, Lark, Luka, Operator WeChat, Whatapp, Facebook Messager and Slack were developing huge user bases while we still had yet to have a public launch.Large, Luka and Lark were stand outs, they were doing amazing work with natural language processing and AI that really felt like you were talking with a person.
As we added global navigation, we wanted to keep it focused on the core experience. We eventually refined from 5 tabs to just 3. The company was thinking big now, introducing natural language processing and AI, we hoped that we could develop a new brand language that could feel as modern and visionary as the product wanted to be.
In a few months we redesigned the Kore 2.0 product on iOS, Android and desktop. We stuck to our principles and focused on our strategy of making the experience more effortless (clear + fast + accessible).
During this time, we also rebranded the company to feel more modern and trustworthy with a new logo and brand identity system that differentiates Kore in the marketplace.