- Autodesk wanted to understand how small to large companies leveraged their design work, usually created with Autodesk tools, for marketing purposes and what tools were used
- What process do product designs go through to become part of a company’s marketing collateral? How do they make them available for use by their downstream customers?
- What issues do companies struggle with as they provide design models and information to their customers? What could Autodesk do to facilitate that process?
“The personas that InContext created were very useful for us to understand the customers we hoped to address with a new product. The personas, in conjunction with the supporting data, helped us be very effective in bringing together various stakeholders in the company and getting them aligned on our objectives.”
Jun Shim, Autodesk product manager
The detailed customer data delivered to Autodesk was captured in an affinity model, personas, consolidated sequences and swimlanes. These models provided Autodesk with deep understanding of their target users, how they performed their work and the issues users struggle with as content is passed through the marketing preparation process.
According to Jeff Wright, Director, Content Solutions, “by working with InContext, not only did we learn how to design our new Web service to best address user needs, we also had an impact on how several senior executives at Autodesk think about new product design. There is now greater appreciation at all levels of our organization for the value of the contextual inquiry and design process.”
“I constantly use the data to educate other teams on what our project is about and why it is important for them to support us” said Jun Shim, Autodesk product manager. “The data provided by InContext allowed me to write my Marketing Requirements Document easily and with confidence that I understood the user’s needs. This allowed me to educate the engineers, designers, graphic designers and support teams on the product requirements.”
Autodesk is currently validating the design concepts with users and expects to ship a new tool which building product manufacturers will use to participate in Autodesk Seek. The new S/W capability will enhance manufacturer’s marketing efforts by making detailed product data easy to find and download by potential buyers and/or specifiers.
In a previous engagement, InContext worked with Autodesk to develop the requirements and new product concepts for Autodesk Seek, a robust new web service that connects architects and engineers with building product manufacturers to enhance design efficiency and streamline designer workflows. This product has now shipped and is available to Autodesk customers. InContext had provided detailed customer research and then collaboratively developed the new product concepts.
The current project – the process
This follow-on project was focused on the marketing side of the equation. In other words, how does a company make their product designs, 2D and 3D drawings and associated information available to other companies, thereby facilitating the marketing process for their products to downstream customers?
InContext started with customer research, doing Contextual Inquiry with 40 participants involved in the process of taking design content, 2D and 3D models, and making them available for marketing purposes. This included design engineers, graphic designers, marketing professionals and website managers.
“The data we’ve received from projects with InContext have consistently improved the quality of our products. We found InContext’s process extremely effective at bringing diverse stakeholders to a shared vision. Their process is also very effective at kick-starting new projects — they drove us harder than we would have driven ourselves. At the end of both of our research projects, we had results that led directly into design, with the result that design went much more quickly than starting from a blank sheet” said John Wallace, Senior Interaction Designer.
The InContext team and a cross functional team from Autodesk collaboratively generated new solution concepts through Contextual Design’s visioning process. This resulted in product design concepts which would allow manufacturer’s marketing efforts to be integrated into Autodesk Seek.