02 — 07
02 — 07
In a nutshell, we successfully launched a VPN app tailored for small teams and startups within a tight two-month timeframe. However, this journey was not without its share of challenges due to the limited time available and our desire to make decisions based on research.
Our client already had functional VPN technology, yet struggled to articulate a clear vision for its presentation to potential users or define the target audience. These pivotal tasks were entrusted to us.
Notably, the research part was not initially outlined in our contract. However, driven by our desire to deliver outcomes based on data, we embraced the challenge of cost-effective research and expedited processes, all while ensuring no disruptions in the development phase. Despite a minor delay incurred at the outset, it was a strategic investment. The research we undertook subsequently expedited all following decision-making processes, resulting in a more streamlined and less stressful experience for both our team and the client.
To gather data, we began with research within the JTBD framework to identify a customer segment already seeking our VPN technology. Initially, our hypothesis pointed to individuals within IT companies responsible for team VPN solutions as our primary target. To test this, we conducted about 10 in-depth interviews, spanning various IT positions, including CTOs and cybersecurity engineers. This phase took only few days and was cost-effective as participants were sourced through our personal network and LinkedIn, also resulting in their willingness to share their thoughts.
This initial research phase revealed a critical insight: large corporations primarily relied on internal solutions, posing a significant challenge for our product's market entry.
The most pivotal discovery came when we realized that our ideal users, those seeking an easy-to-use team VPN, were most likely found among startup founders. Startups usually have enough resources and are driven by time sensitivity, favoring straightforward solutions like ours. Following this realization, we conducted a subsequent round of interviews exclusively with startup founders, confirming our hypotheses within this specific and promising segment.
The earlier stage allowed us to set up a focus group to test our future UX/UI choices. After that, we conducted sequential monadic tests using the Microsoft Desirability Toolkit to assess visual appeal and identify the concept that effectively communicated the product's value to our segment.
We discovered that UI design played a crucial role in how potential customers made decisions. Many perceived a "hacker-style" look as faster, more reliable, and secure. Based on our discovery, we swiftly established the design system and developed the product's UX/UI accordingly.
Despite everything going smoothly for us, we aimed to showcase the product's essence through animations, particularly the loading screen. However, after several attempts, none satisfied us. Surprisingly, user tests showed animations had little impact. Consequently, we involved the client in the decision-making process, allowing them to choose their favorite animation. This decision, however, required way too many resources for a relatively small payoff.
Read more about our fuckups from our beloved Shubin
In just two months, we turned challenges into opportunities by utilizing an efficient research framework and cost-effective tests. Our primary goal was to deliver a VPN app that aligned with both our client's specifications and the expectations of the segment we pinpointed during our research. To facilitate the handover of our designs to developers, we developed a compact yet versatile design system, poised for future expansion. Additionally, we incorporated animations to further elevate the user experience with the app.