I joined Mazlo during a final effort to translate business strategy via user research and design vision around the company’s mission to be a positive impact in people’s lives.
After three years of trial and error, one opportunity remained to find the right product fit and sustainable business model. I joined the team to help design and build through this final effort.
To determine our core value, we channeled our inner Chip & Joanna with a demo day. We quickly uncovered that our key differentiator was the 1-on-1 access to trusted, friendly, and collaborative life coaches. We ran design sprints and pilot studies to test whether that relationship held up through an entirely new channel built around conversational text-based engagement.
By the time of my departure, we had a fully-functional wellness offering on its way to the App Store. The app provided real-time, anonymous advice and support through 1-on-1 conversations with Mazlo experts on a range of life topics including parenting, stress, fitness, and relationships.
The Mazlo team was eager to produce innovative technology to help people become better versions of themselves. What we struggled to understand is that in order to provide a new tool people would adopt, we needed to understand who these people are, the everyday challenges they’re facing and what we as product creators were asking them to do each day to help overcome those challenges.
At the time I joined, the existing interaction model was built around self-improvement programs actioned by questionnaire forms and supplemental support chat from a coach.
I used mapping familiarize myself with the product, understand contexts and motivations, build empathy with users and stakeholders alike, and communicate pain points and opportunities.
Insights and validation
Through user & coach feedback and engagement analytics, we were able to synthesize one critical assumption: the strongest connections made were the user’s relationship with their coach. We set out to validate this through design sprints and a pilot study. The outcome resulted in a rearchitecting the existing platform by bringing this conversational relationship to the forefront of the experience.
After several stages of wireframing, I used medium-fidelity wires to cut down on design/build cycles by providing developers enough granularity to confidently begin making design system decisions in code. Not only was this a great way to build trust with the team, it also meant earlier testing and releases.
Micro design systems
Without the need for a full-fledged design library, I built a modular system that combined our new brand language, product strategy, and lean-based approach. With a concise component library that worked for the team and across platforms, we were able to implement changes quickly to get in users’ hands.
I used both low and high fidelity prototyping for various stages of our design thinking — from testing and sales tools, to motion design and implementation guidance.
Tools: HTML/CSS, Flinto, React Native
Gauging market mood
In keeping with our iterative approach, we built and tested marketing sites and campaigns (in addition to other analytical activities) to gain a better understanding of market trends and user behaviors. We used this research and data to evaluate creative directions, experience strategies, as well as acquisition tactics.
Beta launch design for version 2 of Mazlo Coaching.
Site design for a pilot study to determine the effectiveness of single-topic, conversation-only engagement through texting. Sleep was chosen because it was the most common and treatable challenge.
Through a focus group of 30+ test participants from Facebook ads and Craigslist, we were able to confirm our latest hypothesis: people liked getting real help for everyday challenges and preferred the comfort and anonymity of texting compared to more traditional treatment approaches.
Focus group docs & findings
Our challenge immediately shifted into scaling our Sleep experiment to assist with the multiple, everyday issues in peoples’ lives. This new experience strategy closed the gap on serving both user needs and Mazlo’s business objectives.
One of many iterations of split tests informed by heat maps, engagement analysis, conversion tracking, and ad optimizations for the site design into the multi-challenge experience.
My design takeaway
Gaining empathy with people and understanding that solutions to peoples’ real problems won’t always be technology first.
“Ryan is a phenomenal designer with a rare ability to produce the products he envisions. Time and time again I have relied on his critical thinking and ability to solve complex user and business problems with simplicity and style. Ryan’s impact is fueled by his deep skill in product thinking, interaction, visual design, and lean-based approach to product development.”
“Not only did Ryan orchestrate every design detail and interaction pattern within the Mazlo product, he worked tirelessly to better understand and advocate for the real needs our customers. His desire to deliver an experience that would tangibly benefit those who interacted with it led to a beautifully designed and empathetically delivered product. Leading the strategy practice at Mazlo, I was in awe of and ever-thankful for Ryan’s innate ability to both define a holistic product strategy and bring that strategy to life.”
Additional Credit: Ryan Harasyn (Direction, Design), Dan Romanow (Strategy, Testing)