The Client Proofing Tool invites photographers, clients and collaborators to seamlessly share and select favorite photographs together. The tool's modern layout beautifully displays any photographer's work and is easy for even the least tech-savvy client to use.
In my day-to-day as Lead Designer at PhotoShelter, I hear many users stories that could easily launch further ethnographic research, data analysis, A/B testing, product improvements, and feature requests. I keep a running 'brain dump' list to capture user stories, proposed product improvements, and industry-specific design solutions to come back to at a later time. I find this allows me to actively listen to users and consider all information valuable, while at the same time refrain from straying too far from the objective.
Although infrequent, occasionally I have down-time between product and feature build. This can often serve as valuable time for prototyping. Having a list of pre-specified areas of improvement encourages me to be thinking about and actively advocating for the user at all times, even outside of formal product cycles.
One story that popped up regularly in user research was the lengthy process of a photographer's client(s) sending selects to the photographer. In most cases, the client(s) sends a list of selected photographs' filenames to the photographer. Following the lead of this persistent user story, I worked alongside a front-end developer to prototype a solution.
PhotoShelter has long worked within a psuedo-waterfall approach to product development. The Client Proofing Tool design and build process was unique in that it tested an agile, iterative approach. Our initial sprint team consisted of myself and a front-end developer. Together, we quickly highlighted the user stories, project goals, and intended scope of each sprint phase. We sought to invite a product development process in favor of user intent, as opposed to a long scope detailing product requirements. By focusing more on higher level user needs, the exploratory nature of the project minimized design constraints and thus allowed for a wider range of initial solutions to be presented. Prototyping acts as a process to help answer some questions, and in doing so, ask many more.
Some of the user stories that guided the project include:
From a UX perspective, my main objectives were to:
From a UI perspective, my main objectives were to:
Unlike the typical tech-savvy PhotoShelter user, our user's clients can be less accustomed to interacting with the latest technologies. Take for instance the example of a wedding photographer sending photos to a couple. This couple, in turn, may solicit feedback from their parents or grandparents. I wanted to build an application that would be easy for anyone to quickly understand and use. Because we imagined the tool would be used mostly in one-off scenarios, such as the wedding example, I wanted to require minimal commitment to understanding the tool.
Some of the most important factors in reimagining the proofing process were:
Say what you will about Marissa Mayer, her 5-point rule left me intrigued. While in the end I didn't fully stick to five points (that is just brutal), the creative limitations required me to justify each addition color added to the style sheet. It also pushed me to consolidate styles when possible.
The style guide includes hex codes as well as percentages. Percentages are useful as they allow for design colors to be inverted, to create a dark theme (0% becomes 100%, 29% becomes 71%, and so on).
Want to test it out? Take it for a spin (you will be prompted to sign up for a free PhotoShelter account).