The world that we operate in today has changed, from the design tools we rely on, to the devices we use. James Gill, Co-Founder and Designer of GoSquared, talks to me about the importance of product design in an ever changing space.
For GoSquared, the changes over the past ten years since its inception have been fast and monumental. At the age of 14, when any regular teen would have been focusing on studying for their GCSEs, James, Geoff and JT launched GoSquared.
Now, GoSquared has evolved into a customer analytics and communications platform and is making a big impact on the customer relations space with a fantastic digital product. They saw that most companies were using spreadsheets to manage their customers, as well as an array of tools to communicate with them. GoSquared brings all your customer information together in one place. With some innovative projects in the pipeline and an obsession with building a great product, they’re making a solid impact in customer relations.
“We’re not a charity but having an important reason to exist is pretty key.”
Whilst the company purpose has changed a fair bit from its early days, they remain passionate about building great software. James tells us that: “The way companies think about what we do has changed. So a lot of our journey has been iterating and changing what we’re about. We make sure we have a mission everyone believes in – we’re not a charity but having an important reason to exist is pretty key”.
“Essentially, what has always stuck despite these changes within our company is design. Engineering to create a product that people love to use. Just because you’re selling this software to businesses doesn’t mean it has to suck.”
When talking about what motivates GoSquared to create a product with such a strong focus on user experience, James says: “We believe that the way most businesses communicate and understand customers is really broken and backwards. We think if we can solve that, then we can help customers have a way better experience when talking to businesses and make them happy. Then we can also have a really big impact on the people who have the jobs of talking to customers, like those in customer service, people in sales roles and even in product roles.”
Throughout the years, the design process has evolved. The team may still put their initial ideas down into moleskine notebooks piled high around the office but gone are the days of using Adobe Illustrator and organising screens in Keynotes. They found early on it’d be much more useful to arrange a flow to and from screens, which is where Marvel comes in. First wireframing their product within Sketch, then using the Marvel Sketch plugin to sync the work and figure out the flow, then back into Sketch to develop the design more.
“The Sketch plugin really makes it so much easier to iterate and keep Marvel in sync with what’s happening in Sketch. Before that it was a significant amount of effort to get your designs into Marvel – downloading your designs and uploading them as pngs. Now it’s just a click.”
GoSquared uses Marvel to mockup their products. From the remake of their marketing website, to their new Live Chat product that’s helping businesses talk to their customers across their website and mobile apps. “With the marketing site, we wanted to be more focused on the value of the problems that we were solving for people; moving from talking about analytics, dashboards and live-chat, to talking about how we can help users acquire more customers, build a better product, close more sales and provide better customer service.” So before embarking on these projects, James and the team wanted to create a mockup of the website and acquire feedback from potential users, using Marvel to do just that.
“The comments feature is one of the most important things for us. Being able to view the part of the design that they’ve commented on is pretty game changing, rather than things getting lost in translation. For both of these projects, we received a wide range of feedback on a lot of things that we probably would never have heard of if we had just built it and put it out into the ether. Marvel has also been pretty influential on significantly reducing the amount of time it took to build the first version of the chat product. It saved us around three or four weeks.”
“Design isn’t just about making it pretty. It’s about making fundamental calls on what belongs in the product.”
James transposes his passion for creating simple and intuitive user interfaces into all the elements of the company. “The way we think about an interface – always striving for simplicity and ease – is a philosophy we’ve implemented across the rest of the business. Be it throughout the company, the tools we choose to use and the way processes work – always striving for simplicity enable us to move faster and makes everyone’s lives easier.”