Case Study: Developer Center

StackMob

About the Project

My Role: UX and Visual Design

Goal

The goals of the Developer Center (redesign) were to reduce the number of support tickets as well as feature a lot of content that was hidden before. Our documentation was always great, but no one could find it!

Right after re-doing the Developer Center, we re-vamped the first time user experience of creating your first app. We wanted this experience to be streamlined and easy to move onto the Developer Center, Dashboard, or Marketplace.

About StackMob

StackMob was an SF based startup building mobile backend technology for enterprise and indie developers. We were acquired by PayPal in December 2013.

Challenges

  • Our developers were spending a lot of time fielding support tickets that should have been easily answered by our documentation. For some reason, people couldn't find what they needed.
  • We had a lot of supportive content (like e-books, tutorials, and videos) which were used once for a marketing promotion and then forgotten. We wanted a permanent place for those resources to live that was easy to search throguh and discover.
  • It was important to make the app creation painless while also showcasing the flexibility our platform offered (since this is often the first, perhaps only, step a developer takes in evaluating a product.)
“Having led StackMob's frontend engineering since the very beginning, I saw Missy's versatility propel the growth of our company image. I had a great time working with her because she was highly collaborative – I felt I could always give constructive feedback and also expect an honest opinion in return.”

— Erick Tai

Senior Software Developer, StackMob

The Process

The process started with impromptu chats around the kitchen table by a few of us who thought it could be better and ultimately became a fully resourced project. This was StackMob's first venture into true cross-functional teams. I worked very closely with several developers and our developer evangelist on this project.

From those casual chats, we moved to competitive research and cataloging all of the content we would need to include which I organized into a site map

After some iteration with the team, I moved onto wireframing. And more wireframing. And iterating...
And iterating.

Once we felt good about the organization and layout, I started mocking up visual designs. From here, I oversaw the developers as they built it out, and we made changes as needed throughout the implementation.

Example Pages

Support

SDKs

Create an App – Sketches

Create an App – Flow

Outcome and Learnings

  • Ultimately, the re-design of the Developer Center was successful in that it definitely reduced the number of support tickets we were getting. This was great! And necessary because shortly after this, we moved to a model of support that moved all free support to the forums. Ticketed and phone support were paid. We didn't want to move to this model until we were sure that our docs were good enough that most questions could be easily answered there.
  • The Developer Center was one of the first projects I worked on at StackMob. It was also the project that made me realize, hey, I don't think like a developer. By that I mean that this was the first time I needed to really spend a lot of time with the developers talking through the content and how they would move through a similar site. It really drove the point home of always talk to your users!
  • That being said, we were on a tight deadline with constrained resources, but I wish I had tried to take more time to talk to developers outside of our office. While they were immensely helpful, it would have so much better to get a true outside perspective.

What's Next?