Product design, user experience, brand design, research, leadership
Brabble was the very definition of #startuplife — I was brought on as employee number eight at the end of 2012 and the center of our world was six desks on a shared workspace floor in the Time-Life Building at Rockefeller Center west.
Our thesis was that content needed to be truly multimedia — voice, video, photo, and text — and that users should be able to use all modes to respond to any post. Remember the time, 2012 to 2013: this was during the meteoric rise of social media darlings Viddy, Snapchat, and Pinterest as well as the acquisition of Vine by Twitter, Instagram by Facebook, and Socialcam by Autodesk.
Brabble had started in a state of incubation at a local media agency earlier that year and by the time I joined in Nov 2012, they had a ton of unfocused and scattered design work. Job one was to tear down it all "down to the studs" and so we quickly assembled a design team to create or rebuild the logo, brand, the user experience, and the overall design language.
One of the things that we did was to clear a 14’ space and made it into a work wall — divided into ideas, interfaces-in-progress, process flows, and what our competitors were doing. Not coincidentally, this wall ran along one of the main walkways which allowed full transparency into what we were doing, really helping with process, iteration, and general flow.
For 10 months, my team and I built:
Hi-fidelity screens and interaction states for the app along with developer specs
Responsive web site design—beginning with a coming soon page that collected emails to a single informational page to a full site with user authenticated app tie-ins
Logo, color palettes, and brand identity design
General support for a wide assortment of branding and promotional purposes — including a stock car race in the Poconos and boxing trunks of Robert Guerrero, where he fought against (and lost to) Floyd Mayweather
Eventually, we expanded from the first six desks/three offices, taking over nearly the whole floor. We released several iOS versions of the app and we built its Android sibling as well. I grew the design team to two full-time designers and three freelancers. We learned all sorts of things about our users — including how private messaging was more popular than public sharing, over 70% of the content on our platform was privately shared in comparison to public postings.
And then, in one week in mid-2013, we found out that the company had imploded financially and 90% of the company was laid off. Super not fun but what a trip.