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Our latest champion is Sean Rosensteel. He is the co-founder of Bravo, a web-based tool for recording customer videos for marketing campaigns.
Sean reached out to us via email, writing, "Wondering if Balsamiq would like to do a story on Bravo Video, as we recently launched an entirely new website + interface using Balsamiq for wireframes. Without your software, we wouldn’t have been able to plan such an intuitive interface for our customers :)"
I corresponded with Sean and loved how well he was able to articulate his product development process and the role that Balsamiq Mockups played in it. He is a long-time Mockups user and an experienced entrepreneur. Sean told me, "I’m an extremely organized person, and that’s probably why I love Balsamiq so much. I like to plan and measure twice before executing. "
I think you'll enjoy his interview responses, so let's get right to it...
I’m the Co-Founder of Bravo, a software product that enables businesses to capture video from customers, users and fans - right over the web. I’m responsible for most of the marketing initiatives, as well as keeping our agency partners happy and up-to-date.
We’re seeing the adoption of user generated video by consumers and businesses alike. It’s really quite exciting. When we first launched our software in 2011, user generated video was in its infancy stage. A few years later, and we’re seeing people of all ages participate in these raw video campaigns. Because of this shift in consumer behavior, I think more and more companies - especially the marketing departments within these companies - will start to see the importance of capturing customer feedback through authentic, user generated video.
I believe the simplicity that our product offers really sets us apart. Balsamiq aided us greatly in wireframing the new interface, and we built it purely for marketing folk. It’s incredibly intuitive, and it’s so simple you can launch a user generated video campaign in less than a minute.
I’d say the most challenging aspect of my job is figuring out why our product works so well for certain people while others who use it end up not taking it very seriously. We see some user generated video campaigns succeed with flying colors while others fail. We’re doing our best to start capturing data and feedback within the app to better understand what makes certain customers who are using it so successful. If you have any recommendations for user-based analytics software, I’m all ears!
On occasion, I’ll manage a customer account. I love hearing how customers are using the software, learning more about the challenges they’re facing and then providing them with some insights and direction to help them achieve their goals. I don’t get a lot of time these days to work one-on-one with our customer base, but it’s something I’d like to do more of this year.
Customer stories. It’s so refreshing to learn about some of the fun and creative ways people are using Bravo. One of our customers is a non-profit, and they’re organizing an event this summer where people will ride bikes over 100 miles in a 2-day event for charity. They’re spending the night at a half-way point, and during their stay they’ll watch raw videos of their friends and family wishing them luck, cheering them on, and providing them the inspiration/motivation needed to finish the ride strong on day 2. The non-profit who is sponsoring this event is using Bravo to capture and organize all of the videos for the riders. It’s stories like this that convince you to forge ahead and continue doing great work.
We’ve made a ton of mistakes, and I’m sure we’ll continue to make them in the future. The important thing is that you’re learning from them. We’re still recovering from the mistake we made at the beginning of the year: We were launching a new interface, and we didn’t provide the option to existing customers of staying on the old platform. The vast majority of our customers were thrilled with the new interface, but we definitely had to smooth over some unhappy customers who were really used to the old one. Not that we’ll be launching a new platform anytime soon, but if and when we do we’ll definitely be sure to make the transition “optional”.
Yes. For the first few years our product was focused solely on video testimonials. After receiving hundreds of request for more video contest-centric features, we release a video contest widget with user voting functions. This was a little victory for us because we could now support video contests in a feature-rich way whereas before, when we were only focused on video testimonials, it was a bit cumbersome.
I’m a big fan of whiteboards, as I like to visualize from a high-level before getting into the smaller details and executing a plan. Balsamiq acts as our digital whiteboard, and allows us to visualize the concepts of a strategy before we put emotions and design in place. We enjoy its simplicity, and we find it very, very easy to use and adopt.
When we originally launched Bravo v1 we made the mistake of NOT using wireframes. We were so excited to jump into the design stage that we made the decision to forge ahead, but it was costly. Not only did it create additional time revising the designs, but once it was developed it took even longer to make edits since we were dealing with live code. I’d say that to this day it was our one major mistake - because we immediately had customers using a software that wasn’t optimized very well for usability. Had we taken the time to wireframe, we could have streamlined the customer experience ahead of time and had happy customers from the start.
When we were planning the release of Bravo v2, we knew that wireframing played an important role of the success of the new release. This time around, we invested quite a bit of time wireframing the new interface, uploading our wires into InvisionApp for a realistic user experience, etc. This allowed us to make a ton of on-the-fly revisions before we put our ideas into design.
Our team members absolutely love it, because they feel like they’re an important part of the planning process (which they truly are). As I mentioned in the answer above, we usually upload our wireframes into InvisionApp, which makes them come alive in a web browser.
I think it would be awesome if you could upload Balsamiq files directly to InvisionApp, but I believe that’s a feature that InvisionApp would have to add to their software (I’ve already recommended it, by the way). I think the only recommendation I could make is to make it easier or more intuitive to add images to a wireframe. For whatever reason, I always have a hard time figuring out how to do this!
I use the Mac desktop app, and for whatever reason it always opens up the last file I was working on. Usually, when I open it, I want to start a new project or work on a new file…so I always have to close out the last tab that’s open and start with a new one. Not the end of the world - pretty minimal negative experience - but overall we’re really pleased with it.
I’m not sure if it’s a feature per say, but I love the templates [UI controls] that are provided. They save so much time, and it’s nice that you can simply drag and drop a pre-existing module right into your wireframe.
Thank you, Sean, for sharing your stories and perspective. You are a Champion!
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Thanks for conducting such a fun interview, Leon! I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with you. Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more about future Balsamiq Champions!