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About PipeSearch

PipeSearch is a cloud-based enterprise marketplace powered by the most comprehensive gas and oil piping database in the world. Their online marketplace enables professionals from the gas and oil piping industry to compare offers and bids nationwide to find the best value.

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Team & Role

As the lead product designer, I was responsible for designing the information architecture, user workflows, interaction, visual, product, and prototyping. I worked closely with PipeSearch's leadership

and development teams throughout the creation of the platform.

Users & Audience

I worked closely with the PipeSearch leadership team to define their main user groups, end-user, and facilitator.
 

End-user​

The end-user group includes both buyers and sellers.

  • Buyer​ - Buyers include users who are searching the marketplace for a specific pipe to fulfill their needs.

  • Seller - Sellers include users who post or consign their pipe to the marketplace.
     

Facilitator

The facilitator manages the complicated process of the pipe's sale, risk management, and shipping logistics.

Design Process

Please note the process I'm sharing below is an overview. Due to the complexity of  PipeSearch, I'm highlighting the key components of my process for the end-user group.
 

Establishing Design Requirements

Once the user groups were established, I conducted stakeholder interviews to document and define the requirements of the platform. During this process, I was also able to establish the main features of the platform which include dashboard, my requests, my orders, sell my assets, request for quote, my listings, and messages.

User Interaction Architecture & User Flows

The most complex and challenging portion of creating the PipeSearch platform was the numerous ways end-users and facilitators interacted throughout various processes. To flesh out this portion, I made a user interaction architecture as well as user flow documentation for the primary features of the platform which include, sign up or log in, request for quote, and consignment.

You can view a few examples of the documentation below.

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Wireframing & Usability Testing

Once the user interaction architecture and workflows were in place, I began to flesh out the primary features through wireframing and prototyping. At this point in the process, user feedback was essential. The user feedback I received during this step of my process helped me significantly improve numerous workflows and page layouts. 

 

Below are a couple of examples of wireframes that were used in the process.

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User Interface Design Strategy

It was essential to the PipeSearch leadership team that the user interface I created was modern, simplistic, and very well thought out. 

I have found that the secret to creating a beautiful interface is consistency. To create consistency across a large platform like PipeSearch, I began by establishing their visual design language which included a color palette, typographic hierarchy, and iconography. A couple of examples from the design language are shown below.

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Iterative UI Process

Creating an excellent UI solution rarely happens on the first attempt. To find the best solution, you need to research, design, test, review findings, iterate, and repeat. For PipeSearch, I used this process consistently, and it substantially helped us improve our solutions to fit user needs better.

For an example of my iterative UI process being applied to improve PipeSearch's dashboard, please view the slider below.

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Dashboard Version 1

Based on feedback from the leadership team and usability testing, I found the following issues with my first version.

  • Leadership requested to replace the your inventory section with a new my global interests feed. The my global interests feed was required to include both requests for quote and consignment opportunities as well as the activity, geographical location, and messages on a per-item basis.
     

  • Users stated that the dashboard was too condensed and felt overwhelming. They also reported difficulty navigating the interface to find the information they were looking to find.
     

  • Leadership also requested to add featured inventory to the industry activity section to help users find suggested items they might be interested in purchasing. They also asked to replace the area in the bottom right with an announcements and blog posts section.

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UI & Strategy

When designing the user interface for a large platform like PipeSearch, I start by focusing on the primary features. I choose a couple of wireframes from each primary feature and start the iterative UI process described above.

 

As I advance the designs though my process, the visual look of the platform begins to form. Once I have finalized my designs and established the visual look for a few key screens, I begin to expand it out through the remainder of the platform. I have found following this process to be very useful because it slims down on the time it takes to establish a visual look while also decreasing the time spent updating a large number of designs.

You can view finalized examples of the user interface of the primary features below.

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Dashboard

The dashboard is the central hub where buyers and sellers can manage their interests, tasks, messaging, and much more.

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Outcome

Upon completing the platform, it was very well received by PipeSearch's leadership and development teams. The leadership team was delighted with how I took their complex requirements and turned them into a simplistic, modern, and user-friendly platform. Since the launch of PipeSearch, they have grown into an enterprise platform powered by the most comprehensive high alloy tubular database in the world.

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Recommendation From Briggs Thompson - PipeSearch Co-founder

"Steve is someone I will trust and rely on for UI/UX expertise and design work moving forward. I worked with Steve building out the user experience and design for a data-heavy and workflow heavy B2B platform and application. Steve reviewed our legacy platform, dozens of documents, many versions of requirements, and piece by piece made my vision become a reality.

 

Steve is consistent, easy to communicate with, and was a pleasure to work with. He is receptive to feedback and is also transparent in why he made design decisions, often clarifying his stance from a UX perspective. Steve had no problem adhering to our own internal processes, sprint schedules, and was a critical part of the team.

 

As far as his work goes, he was able to bring order to multiple dense and confusing processes while making it look extremely appealing. 10/10 would hire and work with again!"

Reflections

PipeSearch is the most complex platform I have created to date. It was a fantastic learning experience that helped me take my organizational and documentation skills to the next level. I'm very proud of what I produced for PipeSearch. I feel it's a great representation of how I can turn complex challenges into well thought out user-friendly interfaces.

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