Slooh 360 Product Solution
Strategy . Information Architecture . UX . UI . Creative Direction
After fifteen years of bringing streaming views of space to their steadfast community of Astronomy enthusiasts and experts, Slooh approached me with the task of reimagining their powerful product’s user interface and brand strategy as their UX Lead and Creative Direction Partner.
Process: Research / architecture / UX / UI
I kicked the project off with a comprehensive research phase, familiarizing myself with all of the inner workings of the existing Slooh system platform. During this process, I worked directly with Slooh’s CEO to help identify key user types, business objectives, and user goals through a robust Client Survey process.
After learning more about Slooh’s current, and aspirational user-base, and establishing what was at the heart of this product’s core values, we moved into a more technical phase consisting of planning, strategy, and mapping sessions. Through this process I was able to re-architect the existing structure map, and create new key features that helped complete the suite circle, introducing a new vision of a more harmonious system structure where all core product tools work in unison to facilitate the learning process.
After defining the new vision for the platform structure, I worked to create the user experience flow, and detailed user interface wireframes to lead Slooh’s developers into an initial 'skeleton’ phase where they began building the new proposed structure, while I began work on the design phase, building an entirely new brand identity system that aims to imbue the new precision-based system structure with the artful history of Astronomy, and overall wonder of Space exploration.
Branding: Exploration. Wonder. Nostalgia. Emotion.
While researching the competitive landscape, I noticed that most space-related brands were following the same prescribed ‘futuristic’ aesthetic, which felt outdated and cliche. I wanted to differentiate Slooh from the rest of the market, I wanted Slooh to be the brand that celebrates the artful history of Astronomy. Since one of Slooh’s core business goals was to become a leader in online education of Space, I knew this concept of historically-inspired branding tied in well. I saw a unique niche for the Slooh brand to flourish, and began my visual research.
I set up an office space in Florence, Italy, where the history of Astronomy runs deep, and inspired many details of the brand language. I spent many days at the Galileo museum, and other historic sites fully immersed in the visual language on display. While this aesthetic did lead the way, we also wanted to be inclusive, and pay homage to all of the various world cultures that have a prominent marker in the history of Science and Astronomy.
The goal was to create an environment for the Slooh audience to feel the joy, wonder, and adventurous nature attached to the history of exploration, to feel as though they were taking part in an experience that some of the greatest minds in Astronomy took before them. I wanted to create a style that would invoke a sense of nostalgia for our older audience, perhaps reminding them of those old wooden science kits they played with as children, and a sense of wonder for our younger audience who are familiar with certain blockbuster movies, and historically themed games that utilize a similar aesthetic. This concept was to become the visual language that ties various age-groups together, while also creating a clean, usable interface to learn about Space together!
Proposed Strategy: Suite Cycle
A major part of my initial strategy proposal, was to establish a system that takes into consideration various user types, age ranges, tech-savvy, and the science behind how people learn and retain information. This was key in establishing the new system structure, making learning a key core goal. In order to do this, we had to assess the existing features and introduce new tools needed to align with this concept of a cyclical system of tools that work together to facilitate the process of learning.
Establishing Patterns: Usability & Design
To ensure a seamless production build, I created a modular interface consisting of an array of reusable assets, and usability patterns that aim to allow developers to reuse components accordingly for build, while also allowing users the ability to easily acclimate themselves to a common interaction language as they traverse the product interface. While the product itself is robust, the reusable page templates, asset components, and overall structure make building and using the system rather simple. Reusing navigation systems, Introduction sections, commenting, and modal dialogs aimed to reduce production time, while offering a cohesive interaction language for Slooh’s users.
With a cleaner more focused interface, and design system, users are able to digest information in a more comfortable way. The system is made up of page templates that work for a user who is in more of a browsing mode, and page templates that work for users who are looking for something specific. There are many pieces to the overall product, so ensuring balance, tool differentiation, and usability was an ambitious, but exciting challenge. The solution was to create a modular interface structure, and utilize branded style to help differentiate various tools and elements that make up the full experience, allowing us to reuse an array of components, without appearing to be too cookie-cutter.