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Designing and Building Human-First Product Experiences

By Larissa Weinstein

The Community Makes the Platform

Here at LaunchSource, we’re building a different type of software platform. Similar to our philosophy about the evolution of sales toward Human-First Sales, we believe that software is evolving toward Human-First Product Experiences.

Human-centered design as a way of thinking and designing solutions to business problems has long been applied in other industries, but software and technology have traditionally siloed user experience into the digital world in which these products typically live. What makes us a platform is the community of people that use our product suite- and in so doing, forge offline relationships and networks facilitated by our technology.

When I say product experiences, I’m not just talking about UX and I’m not even solely referring to a holistic user journey contained within the digital world. I’m talking about the actual experience of the human being interacting with a digital product and then continuing that thread to the offline interactions that follow.

The Offline-Online Spectrum

Each product experience exists on a spectrum of offline and online, with most falling somewhere closer to one end of that spectrum but still maintaining active components of both.

For example, our eLearning offering falls heavily toward the online end of the spectrum, with BDRs going through online trainings that they can then apply in their daily work. However, we are currently in the process of revamping the training entirely and part of the new training will incorporate offline elements such as live classes and other in-person learning experiences that will complement the online content.

Our Candidate Report actually falls toward the middle of the spectrum: clients engage with the digital product to browse and select candidates before continuing their interview process via phone and face-to-face meetings. Everything from the workflow of how a client logs onto the platform and selects a candidate to the interview process and ultimately extending an offer is included in the product experience. So are any conversations the client has with our Account Manager, whether those are via email, phone, or in person.

At the other end of the spectrum we have Interview Day, an offering that skews toward the offline and would not traditionally be considered a product since it is not a piece of software. The event itself is conducted in person, with candidates coming into the office to spend the afternoon learning, demonstrating their skills, and meeting with hiring managers. But there are online components to this experience as well, such as when candidates RSVP to the event or receive the prep email that we send out before the big day. Of all of our product experiences, Interview Day is the least digital- and the most requested by our clients.

Each instance of interaction with a human or technological representative of LaunchSource comprises part of a product experience, and by understanding this we are able to build our platform of Human-First Product Experiences. In fact, the human component of our LaunchSource community is what makes us a platform as opposed to a suite of connected software products.

Ultimately, technology is a tool to facilitate human connection. We connect early career sales professionals to each other and to hiring managers, as well as connecting sales managers to each other. As our alumni (BDRs we have placed) progress in their careers and become managers themselves, they continue to engage with LaunchSource because they’re eager to come back to the community and in many cases introduce their new companies to it.

Foregrounding the Human

Our technical products offer structure and milestones along the way for both candidates and clients alike, but the human experience is the most important part.

Are our candidates engaged? Do they feel supported in their journey toward a BDR role? Are they able to clearly track their progress through our rigorous application process? Where in that process is it crucial that we include a phone call with an actual person? Are candidates taking full advantage of the resources we offer, such as one-on-one coaching calls to prepare them for interviews? Are we being emotionally intelligent in how we guide them through the process?

These are the questions I ask myself every time I make a design decision about operations or process that will affect the candidate experience. Applying principles of human-centered design to our business problems requires empathy. I have to be able to put myself in the shoes of the candidate, and foreground the human experience even if it’s at the expense of strictly utilitarian efficiency.

As I dive deeper into building the Candidate Report product, which is completely client-facing at this time, I ask myself similar questions when deciding what features to build. It’s not just about what happens on the screen when a client clicks a button- it’s about what their human experience is as the person sitting in front of that screen engaging with LaunchSource. The feedback from our clients so far has been that they care about that human element just as much as we do.

Building Human-First Product Experiences within the tech industry is one of the most fulfilling ways I have found of applying my personal philosophy about the importance of human connection in a digital age to my work. Much of this industry is caught up in questions of scalability, and it’s easy to hide behind “that won’t scale” as a reason to eliminate human elements of an experience in favor of automation.

Our greatest challenge is to design experiences that prioritize the human beings on the other end of our tech while continuing to solve business problems. As technology becomes easier and cheaper to build and the proportion of marketing and advertising that gets lost in the noise increases, the startups and brands that rise to the top will be those that remember that the community of humans using their product or platform are the most important part of the business.

We’re excited to pioneer a new kind of tech company that prioritizes authentic relationships with our community- and we can’t wait to continue this journey with you.

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