BY: COLTON JENSEN, DESIGNER, MORTARR
Like any normal human being, Walt Disney World is one of my favorite places on earth. It has a magic that detaches you from the outside world and drops you into a place filled to the brim with fun, wonder, and lots and lots of colorful lights. What's there not to like?
But that magic is not on accident. It's actually a very thoroughly designed experience created by Walt Disney World. The foundation of this experience is a series of underground tunnels called utilidors that allow the "mess" to stay underground and the magic above. These are primarily located in the Magic Kingdom and were supposedly the brainchild of Walt Disney while he was strolling through Disneyland one day. On his walk he saw a cast member dressed as a cowboy walking through Tomorrowland (a futuristic wonderland and, unless you're watching Cowboys and Aliens, it's nowhere for a cowboy to be romping around) to Frontierland, where he actually fit in. He thought that out-of-place experience could be jarring to visitors and thus made the decision to create the tunnels while building Walt Disney World. So, you'll never see a garbage truck, vehicles delivering food or merchandise, or characters getting in and out of their costumes there. It's all hidden away from the general public to create the purest possible experience for guests visiting Walt Disney World.
As User Experience (UX) designers, only a small few might have the visionary genius of Walt Disney when it comes to giving people an unbelievable user experience. But the rest of us, with some proper research, can give people a great experience while using our products. Whether designing a website, app, or a vegetable spiralizer — user research is the foundation that fuels the life-force of the product.
When we set out to create Mortarr, an innovative (you could call it magical) platform that provides inspiration, showcases companies’ projects and products, and connects the commercial construction and design world, we needed a good foundation that allowed people to come to our site and no longer have to turn to multiple outside sources for everything they needed to start their next commercial project.
In the beginning of Mortarr, we had team members that had worked in the commercial industry, but the platform we were building for that world was something completely new. Research into the industry was the only way we were able to craft an experience for our users that does what we set out to do — take away the mess. That means no more heavy samples, endless binders, dead-end Google searches, expensive sourcing trips, torn pages out of magazines. Instead we were streamlining how people can find inspiration, products and pros, and make it available wherever and whenever they want.
To find Mortarr’s "Tomorrowland cowboys" we've made it a point to talk to the people who, you know, could actually use Mortarr. Most recently we visited the Merchandise Mart in Chicago for NeoCon 2019 to get raw reactions to our platform. In our booth, people had the opportunity to test mortarr.com and give feedback on how it could be improved so they could get the most value out of it. Those people, their opinions and insight, are crucial to what we do. We listened and read through all their feedback and brought it back to our headquarters. We’ve discussed their thoughts and comments in meetings, and it’s made a big impact on our next steps with the site.
For example, people wanted more information about who was involved with specific parts of projects on Mortarr. Because of this we’re adding a way to display that information on projects and individual photos.
Also, our users generally wanted more education about how Mortarr works within the website itself. We have an amazing resource out there called the Learning Lounge that helps with some of this already, but within the site we are now adding clearer words and headlines as well as videos throughout that will walk through how to use different sections of the website.
When on Mortarr’s Photos, Pros or Brands pages, people were frustrated that there wasn’t a way to get back to the top of the page easily or navigate to another page from where they already were. We are now adding a specific footer and button to our infinite scrolling pages that will allow people to scroll back to the top or navigate to a number of pages wherever they are in the scrolling process.
We also received feedback on some of our buttons and icons within Mortarr. Because of that we’re doing a full review of our button and icon styles and making sure they are clear, consistent, and communicate what they mean to anyone using the platform.