SpotOn embodies one of the most exciting project transformations that I’ve contributed to; but things didn’t immediately hit the ground running. Our small team at Fine Citizens started with a basic understanding of the product — SpotOn (an initiative of The Ohio State University) was an educational web portal with a searchable database of product reviews, ratings and information on digital K-12 classroom content.
But beyond technical requirements and logistics, what was this company doing differently? What made them different from some of their successful product review competitors? Turns out the answer was more exciting than we initially thought.
SpotOn had asked Fine Citizens to build a website; but with one look at their initial wireframes, we knew there was more to solve than simply redesigning the product UI. Not only did SpotOn's wireframes lack hierarchy, but there was no decisive user journey. This, combined with an unsuccessful identity, showed us the true problem — SpotOn had no story. No soul.
We needed to reflect on the purpose of SpotOn to determine its unique traits and characteristics. We knew that once we determined that core idea, the design process would essentially start itself.
SpotOn thorougly reviews digital products for K–12 classrooms. In short, a SpotOn score is made up of 4 sub-scores. Within each of these 4 sub-score categories, there are 5+ sub-criteria. In addition, each product is sent to 2 different teachers for review, and then averaged into a comprehensive review.
Not only does this thoroughness outweigh the depth of a product review elsewhere, but it speaks directly to teachers. They get reviews from people who know how to judge these products best — other teachers. For teachers, By Teachers.
We used this discovery as the basis of our design efforts. Understanding SpotOn's purpose and process helped us to carve out a unique niche for them, even amongst product review giants like Amazon.
After the initial launch of spotonreviews.org, the site has seen consistent updates and progressive changes. The beta version we originally created at Fine Citizens is no longer represented on a number of live pages, but the depth and user experience consideration is still at its foundation.