When we had the opportunity to speak at DEMO 2010, we knew that we had to dazzle the audience with our second web-based app, Verify. So we found a little inspiration from Bob Dylan . We knew that speaking at DEMO 2010 was an opportunity we couldn't pass up, especially since it was another opportunity that led to the creation of Verify.
Over the years, we have learned a lot about the design process, including the importance of focused feedback, which resulted in our flagship app, Notable. However, we saw that there was an opportunity for an application centered solely around getting early user feedback. So we decided we had enough chutzpah to seize it.
Early in Verify's development, we only had stellar fragments of an idea, spread desperately across the vastness of space. The trick was to take those fragments and coalesce them into a brilliant star. After all, we didn't want to get lost in space.
So Bryan hunkered down, outlining the vision behind what would become Verify, and instigating that vision among individual ZURBians. By speaking with Jonathan, one of our lead designers, and Matt, our lead engineer, early on, Bryan was able to get buy in before the vision was presented to the entire team. In other words, Bryan got some advocates behind the vision so that he wasn't the only one driving it.
Getting advocates and buy in wasn't the only way we kept from being lost in space. We had to think holistically about the problem. We weren't trying to just build a product. We had to consider how we were going to market the product, brainstorming names until we came up with Verify.
More than that we had to be crystal clear with the positioning, meaning it had to be super simple. Say we were in an elevator with a potential customer and had five minutes to explain Verify — what would we say? It also had to be a product that we'd want to use ourselves. Once we worked all that out, it was time to plot a course for rapid prototyping.
As with everything we do, we started out by sketching. Armed with our Sharpies, we cranked out sketches of the core pieces of Verify — creating the test, how the test were taken, and what reports looked like. We went through probably 80 sketched screens and interactions. Take a gander at the sketches by viewing the slideshow below:
After sketching, we deviated from our usual design process, which was thankfully very flexible. So instead of doing hi-fi wireframes or visual design, we jumped right into front-end prototyping, which was made easier because we could fall back on the work we did for Notable. Two weeks later, we had the entire front-end coded. Our star of an idea was finally beginning to coalesce.
Let's take a look at a few of the critical pieces that helped us build the prototype at warp speed:
Take a look at two test screens from the original prototype:
Building the front-end prototype really validated the workflows and interactions, and we were able to hook up the back-end and enabled the core pieces of Verify sooner.
With the first pass at the front-end was complete, it only took another couple of weeks before the application was usable. And because Matt, our lead engineer, was involved from the start, we were able to quickly resolve technical issues, such as this one:
Getting the engineering team involved early helped us communicate clearly Verify's intent and function, providing a solid foundation for our discussions. The other boon was that it nipped potential problems in the bud before it was too late.
Remember the opportunity to speak at DEMO 2010 that we mentioned above? That opportunity came In the midst of all this, which gave us more incentive to get this puppy built out in 3 months. More than that, it gave us an opportunity to present the app in front of an audience. As we mentioned before, we took our inspiration from Bob Dylan. Check it out:
After our presentation, the star of our idea had exploded into a supernova of excitement. We got a lot of sign-ups from that presentation and we were able to get some early feedback. We also learned several lessons about getting kick ass conversions from our holistic approach to launching Verify.
Being our second public release app, following on the heels of Notable, we were amazed at the solar flare that burned after our launch in 2010. The New York Times gave us some love as did the folks over at Techcrunch. They weren't the only ones. Robert Scoble, of Rackspace, even sat down with us to talk about Verify. Check out the video:
That's not the only video on Verify. Check out this demo of Verify:
We also love getting continuous feedback from our customers so we can continue to refine Verify. Check out some of the more recent updates.Now Go Verify It!