Transforming How Architects, Contractors, and Designers collaborate.
Vulume's founder approached us with impassioned project from the world of architecture. He envisioned a digital tool to improve and streamline architectural projects. Think of it as Basecamp for architects and designers, where they can work collaboratively with contractors and clients on a projects ranging from decor to large-scale construction. We took on the project because we really believed we could make some positive impact and, after a kickoff, the project began.
The Heart of the Matter
Our first step was to discover the methods in which architects and designers work today. We conducted interviews with target user groups and discovered the methods in which they worked. We shadowed target users and followed them with field studies onsite to see how they communicated with contractors and clients. We observed, we asked, we absorbed. What we discovered was that the communication happening between teams and also with their clients relied on very traditional approach; printed documents, long email chains combined with calls, and face-to-face meetings. The process was slow; the approval process was delayed by physicality. We saw there was room for improvement, but problems lay ahead of us: ease of use, adoption, user invitation, and roles.
Everything in One Place
Because it was a collaboration app, it was necessary to create different roles, each with different views and functionality based on the role. This helped with the various aspects of collaboration and presentation within the system. In addition to varying roles, there were differences in project types for public vs private projects, with different goals for each. We introduced an idea of open-sourcing some architectural projects while private projects would serve the more traditional role of project collaboration and presentation only for stakeholders. For all projects, be they open or private, we wanted to ensure that ease of use was there. We designed a top-level repository that caught the users uploads and was specific to their account; this let users easily attach files to other projects in the future (We found this very helpful, as most architects have different styles and materials that they use regularly and this allows them to attach them to projects to be reviewed and commented on by their clients.)
Bringing the Idea of Open Source and Discovery to the Architectural Community
Public projects allowed watchers to follow the projects creation and evolution and also to even contribute and comment, much like open source software projects. Using the idea of a public, open source project, we began to realize the system needed to introduce the concept of discovery. This “Discover” section afforded the users the luxury of getting inspiration for their own ideas, and even finding like-minded designers who they could communicate and collaborate with. We utilized smart tagging and tiered browsing, as well as providing users with the ability to search for specific info and labels. In addition to that, we wanted to make it easier to generate inspiration through the capture CTA and the Chrome extension to capture anything across the web.
Used by Professionals Worldwide
Vulume is in public beta and is already enabling professionals, companies, governments, students, homeowners, and others to simplify their workflow, improve communication, and ultimately increase efficiency and productivity on projects. The growing Vulume community connects architects, designers, builders, clients, and customers around the world and promotes the sharing of ideas. See it here.