2008 – 2009
I designed a product to take on the one-size-fits-all college yearbook industry and allow students to customize their yearbooks with personal content drawn from social networks. I’m a strong advocate for technology’s ability to customize products to serve our individual desires and lives, and college yearbooks are a prime example of an industry that has failed to keep pace with either technology or their customers. Both the content (an attempted overview of tens of thousands of students) and the production method (publishing on traditional printing presses, requiring high mininum orders and no customization) of their product are outdated.
The design of the product was driven directly by the target customer’s needs and desires. The product’s features, interface, and price, among other things, were directly based on a market research survey of 80 target customers and subsequent interviews and cross-tab analysis.
The inspiration for the product was driven by the pain I felt when I graduated from a large university and an out-of-touch yearbook industry couldn’t begin to serve my desire to record the memories of college with my friends. I initially designed a dream product, with features like a social media archive and Songs of the Year. But after interviewing current students and conducting extensive research of the yearbook, social network, and custom photobook industries, I found that photos, campus traditions, and interactions with small groups of friends were the most desired features.
The product remains on drydocks because I decided I don’t actually want to run a yearbook company. But the experience of researching, designing, and iterating the product and application made it clear to me that I want to pursue building applications that delight their users (not to mention disrupt stagnant industries).