1. About my Role

Between 2017 and 2019, I've led the design at Ryte from 250.000 to 1.000.000 users. The company is one of the leading SaaS providers for Website Quality Management and Search Engine Optimization. I was hired as the first product designer, which gave me the possibility to take over huge responsibility early on. I redesigned the entire software during a rebranding, built up a design system from scratch and introduced a user research process to guide strategical business decisions.

2. Rebranding and Redesign

In July 2017, the company onpage.org decided to go international, get a .com domain and change its name to… you guessed it… Ryte. Not only the branding and website, including the largest online marketing wiki in Germany, should get a new look and feel, also the tool should be entirely redesigned. I was really happy to learn that I was responsible for this huge step.

The main colors and font families were given by marketing, the rest was on my plate. It was an amazing challenge to rethink the entire UI of the tool, making it cleaner, optimizing spacing, font-sizes, data visualizations or making the colors accessible.

3. Building a Design System

Ryte is an agile organization and as we began to have more product teams and hire more UX designers, we ran into some problems: It took quite a while until new designers where up and running with the design patterns and rules, inconsistencies started to appear and developer handovers didn't work as smooth anymore.

After some research and reflection how to solve this, I decided it was time to introduce a design system. You can find it here and learn more about the process in this article I wrote about it. Back then, we used Sketch, InVision and Zeplin in the design team, but shortly before I left, I introduced Figma, which replaced these tools. In the codebase we used a shared Git repository and Storybook to display a list of the React components.

4. Introducing a User Research Process

As much as I liked tweaking the UI and making the software beautiful and consistent, I slowly felt in love with the process of user research. Before I joined, the Product Owners decided what to build. As we grew, we saw huge benefits in having a proper user research process in line to make sure, every feature we build is on point.

From the beginning on, I used Google Analytics, Hotjar, User Interviews, Usability tests and more to test features and get a rough understanding of our users needs and goals. This worked out quite well, so in 2018 we decided to intensify this user research process, improve it and make strategic company decisions through it.

I conducted over 200 interviews with users and industry experts from companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Linkedin or Disney. We tested dozens of different user research tactics and in the end we had an awesome process that helped us to build the right things at the right time, using this template:

5. Conclusion

Before I started at Ryte, I've mainly built normal websites and landing pages. It was a great challenge, to get so much responsibility right from the beginning – especially owning the entire design of a tool that is currently used by more than one million people. Working in an agile environment, building up a design system from scratch and introducing a user research process taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined when I started this job and I'm really thankful for this amazing journey.