Capturing opportunities through the lens

Designing macOS App for photographers

A while ago, I moved in with my girlfriend, who is a professional photographer and photography teacher. Naturally, we started working together in the same house/office, and our workflows began to blend.

As a creative problem solver, I began to identify frustrations in her workflow, mainly in the pre-selection stage of the journey.

Over time I began to see those same frustrations in the flow of her colleagues and students, igniting a brilliant idea, ready to be born.

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THE PROBLEM

Other solutions were costly or could not handle fast processing of RAW images, directly impacting user experience.

Other solutions were too expensive or weren't able to handle fast RAW image processing, directly impacting user experience.

THE OPPORTUNITY

I met with a few old colleagues, and we discussed this bold idea of creating a free open source project to help photography students and side-hustler photographers.

With no hesitation, they jumped in, and we immediately started working.

My role in the team was Product Designer.

Research Plan

Key Finding: Workflows vary depending on the experience of each photographer, but they all have 5 phases in common:Negotiation, Production, Pre-Selection, Selection, and Post-production.

Key Finding: Photographers shape their workflow based on the tools they have, not vice versa. 62.3% of those interviewed have had to download some software illegally due to region restrictions.

Key Finding: Raw Image processing speed was a common issue in most of the apps tested on the competitive analysis.

DEFINE AND IDEATE:

We focused our scope in the Pre-Selections phase, because of the number of frustrations and lack of solutions out there, and concluded that it will have a higher impact on the shortest development cycle.

After some Affinity Mapping, we built 1 user persona that represented all frustrations and pain-points of the users we interviewed.

Research Plan

We then began our 5 day design sprint, where we managed to include a wide range of photographers and our technical and design team.

In those 5 days, we spent some time in lightning talks and HMW exercises, We iterated our user persona through a new affinity mapping session and dot voting and we ended up our week building our User Journey.

We designed a low fidelity prototype, and it was ready for some usability testing.

Research Plan Research Plan

ATTEMPT 1:

The first attempt did not go as expected. Users were overwhelmed with all the options and were easily confused, leading to a lot of time wasted.

After analyzing feedback and a lot of thinking, we designed our second prototype.

ATTEMPT 2:

This time we focused on the experience of the main journey and moved non-commonly used features an options tab. We also switched to a more minimal UI.

The results were fantastic and very positive, with some minor fixes and improvements.

FINAL DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT

We prioritized the backlog using an MVP design matrix and added context-based features like asking if users wanted to import new images if they connected their camera or SD card to the computer.

We also put some hard work to have a higher RAW processing speed than our competitors. These were the results of a snowball sampling control experiment testing, analyzing results using ANOVA.

To view a more in-depth analysis of the development challenges and how we accomplished this level of processing speed, please visit Manuel Güilamo's site, who was the Lead Developer of this product.

BRANDING

We started thinking about the brand immediately after the first wave of research. We took inspiration from one of our developers, who is learning Japanese, and ended up with the word Erabo which literally translates into Choose, but also has a powerful cultural meaning:

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MACOS APP

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Erabo Pre-Selector in the App Store

WEBSITE

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RESULTS

We learned a lot from this project, from: new research techniques to new agile work methodologies. We were excited by all the positive comments we received.

We want to make a real community-driven apps ecosystem; we want photographers all over the world to join our community and get involved in ideas for new products, feedback, and testing.

We want the new versions of Erabo Pre-Selector and the other products to be designed and developed by the new members that are joining this project.

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Thanks to Manuel Güílamo and Iván Alburquerque for giving up their free time to build this bold idea. Special mention to Pierina Díez, who inspired this product and gave us invaluable feedback.

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