Pinweel

Co-Founder, CPO & UX / Visual Designer
2010 - 2013

 

I was responsible for co-managing the business, from fundraising, public relations and assembling the engineering team. Led the user research efforts and was solely responsible for executing the UX and Visual design throughout the product. 

Pinweel was a group photo sharing iOS app that was successfully featured in the Apple App Store.

launch article >


Background

We saw a potential in the mobile photo sharing space and began to focus on a product that gave users a friction free way to easily share photos with family & friends on their mobile devices. While we were in development, Instagram launched its service in 2010 and saw huge growth in their first six months. We were about three months from launching a very similar service and we decided to pivot into the group photo sharing space.

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When we began to first conceive Pinweel in late 2009 the photo sharing landscape was very different then it is today. The biggest player at the time was Flickr, users shared their point-n-shoot and DSLR photos with Flickr’s online service. Facebook was gaining huge traction with photo sharing online by a growing user base primarily made up of women. The iPhone was released in 2007 and began a growing trend of “mobile first" concept due to its explosive adoption.


Design process

With every project I work on I follow a very similar process: I start with as much research and user engagement data as possible to fully understand and identify key scenarios and the space in which the product will be positioned. This provides the best baseline to begin my concept work. In the case of Pinweel there were many layers to the work. There was the Pinweel target demographic, the key use case scenarios that the product was addressing, and the brand's look-and-feel that we wanted to wrap the service around.

Our target demographic was primary women, ages 20-45. Facebook had proven that this group was ready to share photos and needed a way to do so on their mobile devices. Later Pinterest would dial into the same demographic and have huge success.

During branding efforts several mood boards were created.

We set out to create a brand that would be fun, whimsical and memorable. This led to some controversy from day one of our launch.

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Along with my work on brand development I began to also develop the mobile user experience by going through hundreds of sketches that would be turned into wireframes and interaction prototypes. This early work allowed me to seek out important user feedback to make further iterations. Those UX flows were later turned into high-fi visual designs that went  through numerous iterations before being passed off to our iOS development team for implementation.


Final Visual Designs

After numerous UX and interaction iterations were made during our private beta our product began to take shape. Once launched and during the lifespan of Pinweel we made rolling updates to the UX, user interactions, and visual design.  Many of the iterative UX decisions were influenced by the telemetry analytics we had in the product. 


Outcome

Like so many startups we didn't have a fairly tale ending to our journey. We grew to 267,321 users and Pinweel was nearly acquired by Warner Brothers, but shortly after Facebook acquired Instagram we shut down the service . Still, the work of building a product from the ground floor proved to be an amazing and invaluable experience.