Reimagining communication on the web

4 min read
Joe Thomas
  •  Jun 30, 2016
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Released less than 2 weeks ago, Loom (formerly OpenTest) is a recording tool that’s changing the way teams communicate with each other. It has one simple purpose: Make recording and sharing videos as blazingly fast and simple as possible. There’s no reason making a recording should take longer or be more of a pain than posting a status update to Facebook or shooting out a tweet.

How did we get into video recording in the first place?

6 months ago, we launched a platform that matched up product experts (UI/UX designers, UI engineers, product managers) with startups. The screen, mic, and front-facing cam video feedback generated on this platform was incredibly insightful, but we repeatedly heard that companies wanted to receive these recordings from their actual users. As a rule of thumb, there are 3 criteria to assess in the decision to build software:

  1. Market size and level of interest
  2. Technological feasibility
  3. Time it takes to create

We had preemptively validated the market, and after research into feasibility and time to build we determined it was a worthy effort. So we were off to the races.

Make it simple, dummy

We were hopeful that people would be relieved to speak their feedback outloud versus heavy-handed, free-form surveys. To make that a reality we knew the user onboarding for recording a video had to be just as easy as surveys or they simply wouldn’t go through the pain. There were a lot of ideas and prototypes. I mean a lot. With a lot of user research along the way. 

Here were some principles ingrained into us through this process:

  1. When possible, always keep users within the same experienceTwitter Logo (page, overlay, etc.)
  2. Automate every step you can
  3. If you can’t automate, simplify the options and action required

“Don’t make users think for themselves until they absolutely have to.”

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Put simply, don’t make users think for themselves until they absolutely have to.Twitter Logo The only way we could adhere to those principles was to build a Chrome extension that would take the user less than 15 seconds from opting-in to actually recording feedback all within the same page.

It’s built! Come one, come all! Hello? 

There was a general perception that what we built was cool and useful, but when we talked to researchers and designers, the conversation was too abstract. We were having problems creating an emotional connection with the product. Without this emotional connection, there was no sense of urgency to begin gathering video feedback from their users. An emotional connection is only truly created when your product is situated in the context of your users’ lives. The only way to do this was to was to instantly layer our recording experience on any site.

Demonstrate value early and often 

But that wasn’t enough. We needed to instantly demonstrate the value of these video recordings by showing them to the user as soon as possible. With some clever engineering, the video we recorded as part of the demo was able to render within seconds. At that moment, lightbulbs turned on in our heads—we knew we’d landed on something big.

Instant gratification over everything

More so than ever, instant gratification is critical to a product’s success.Twitter Logo Your product must deliver value—whether artificial or real—that activates a dopamine release in the person using it. This has to happen the first time they use your product. The later you delay this gratification, the more drop-off you’ll have.

“Your product must deliver value that activates a dopamine release in the person using it.”

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Fortunately, we had that in the videos rendering instantly. Unfortunately, this gratification hook didn’t align well with receiving feedback—it was much more powerful when providing feedback. Rarely do individuals want to immediately watch the feedback when it’s recorded and does not deliver any additional value. So we started brainstorming use cases that could benefit from this lightning-quick experience, and it began to click. 

Getting people to the same “aha” moment

Scott Belsky set the bar when he described how an onboarding experience should be to my cofounder and me: “Even people who don’t immediately recognize the value in recording videos should be able to record one anyways, because it is that simple.”

For us, it was a matter of running through the flow as many times as possible. We reapplied the lessons learned when onboarding users to give feedback to companies. People had to move from ideation of wanting to record to delivering the video in the fewest actions possible and with that we built the most stripped down version of our product:

  • One click to record
  • One click to end the recording
  • Share the link we instantly generate with anyone

It could not get simpler than that.

Come one, come all! For real this time

These videos have fundamentally changed the way our team communicates internally and externally. A few ways we’ve heard it being used that would be relevant to the InVision audience:

  • Giving high-quality, in-depth feedback on prototypes or mockups
  • Walk through client deliverables to drastically improve odds of satisfaction
  • More efficient and endearing responses to emails
  • Record design inspiration and thoughts associated to share with team

Being conscious of how we share our ideas can pay dividends.Twitter Logo We instinctively communicate better by utilizing tonality, facial expressions, and gestures. We also interpret ideas in a different light when there are human layers enriching the words themselves.

We sincerely hope it helps you and your team be more efficient and connected.

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