What was the scope of their involvement?
In the first engagement we had a series of projects, the first of which had a pretty broad canvas and set the tone of our continued work with Fuzzy Math. We told them that it was our main product, so we wanted them to be relatively unconstrained in how they thought about a new version of it. We gave them the major components, some of the main use cases (which had to be available to everyone), some of the edgier ones, and some of the ones we considered redundant, which would be disposed of or moved to a more obscure part of the application. We then gave Fuzzy Math freedom in working with the product from a proposal perspective. We also gave them access to customers and had them participate in a couple calls.
Fuzzy Math had the chance to conduct their own studies, some of which we were involved in. They also got to talk to our services team, including the helpdesk, to get a perspective of what the current product problems were. We also engaged them with two of our customers that had their own UX teams, and were interested in helping us on this front. Those were great, forward-thinking companies, committed to simplifying the overall experience for their users.
We brought Fuzzy Math in very early with Catalytic, our second engagement, because we didn’t have many resources as a startup. Having someone work with us on a contract basis made a lot of sense since we needed many more people to focus on specific areas. Fuzzy Math worked on a part of our app that we didn’t have the resources to develop, but that needed to be started quickly. We wanted someone to put a lot of attention into what it might look like, what types of functionalities it should have, the API design, and how it would impact the main part of the app. All of these things can have a lot of interplay.
Fuzzy Math also helped us think through this part of our app and set it out from beginning to end. We had them involved in the core part of the app as we started to put out out engineering-heavy product. We involved a design director so it wouldn’t be so heavily focused on engineering, but he easily became overwhelmed having to manage an entire team alone, so we knew we needed help and a specialized UX perspective. Fuzzy Math offered a lot of feedback, which was great. They were acting as early potential users while also providing feedback from a UX standpoint. This all worked out very well.
What is the team dynamic?
The initial project was more of a heavy lift, and we had more people involved in it on a fulltime basis. I’m not sure how many people were involved behind the scenes, but we actively saw at least 3 people.
After the initial phase, we started focusing on specific areas for Fuzzy Math to target so that we could make incremental improvements. Once we went into that mode, we retained 1.5-3 resources. The scope tapered off from both our ends after the first engagement because we wanted them to come in and take bite-sized chunks.
How did you come to work with Fuzzy Math?
I went to a couple of my peers in the Chicago tech community and asked about a company that focused on UX. I didn’t want designers, but rather people who could work on user experience, making the product feel better instead of looking better. One of my initial impressions during the search process was that there wasn't a lot of differentiation between visual and user experience design.
Many of the initial people I reached out to were more focused on the aesthetics. A few of my friends came back with Fuzzy Math, which made me feel good about the choice. We also looked at another company, but the referrals and recommendations from the friends I trusted, and who’d actually had hands-on experience with Fuzzy Math, were the primary decision-making criteria.
I’ve had a similar experience with Fuzzy Math across my current company and SAP Fieldglass. The fact that I’ve used them across multiple companies probably says something in and of itself.
How much have you invested with them?
The SAP project took place a long time ago., so I can’t accurately recall the cost. It was a small part of our overall budget, and I may not have had a lot to do with the payment. Over the course of our multiple-year collaboration, the overall cost may have surpassed $900,000.
The project at our current startup is a more significant part of the budget, but overall, it’s still small.
What is the status of this engagement?
The initial project ran for 6 months, from the initial information-gathering and interview phase, to the design iterations. We then went into an ongoing mode, continuing to work with Fuzzy Math all the way into 2015. I'm not sure when we first engaged them, but the collaboration ran for at least 6 years.
The Catalytic project started in early 2016. Fuzzy Math worked with us for 2-3 months, after which we set up an in-house UX team. This approach is more central to what we do, and the differentiation we have as a company. We would definitely continue to use then if we didn’t have an internal team, and I will still probably reach out to them for augmentation. Fuzzy Math has been very helpful, despite the fact that we’re not using them officially right now.