Making a sophisticated product offering familiar
UX Research & Strategy
We conceptualised how ProtonMail's super-niche email services could be adopted by a mainstream user. The project entailed us [lightly] scrutinising the current user experience and brand perception, refreshing the brand's visual identity and designing a new insight-led website design that felt familiar to both new and existing users.
The service is excellent. The premium features are well-priced. The technology is great. But after conducting a quick perception test, it quickly became apparent that despite its positive attributes, the overall perception fails to encourage the non-ProtonMail user to move forward in their journey beyond the sign-up page. The general consensus was “…this looks like it’s a service for nerds and not for a 'normal' people…”
Using a user-centered design model (tweaked to also evaluate brand perception), we created three objectives to drive this piece. The first was to create an experience that appealed to a mainstream audience of casual and sophisticated email user; secondly, ensure the upgraded experience facilitated user trust by creating a safe and familiar email eco-system and; lastly, ensure the wellbeing of existing users.
The first order of business was to visually enhance the brand’s promise of Swiss-level security and privacy with a clean and simplistic visual identity. ProtonMail already has a great logotype and mark. It communicates 'secure email' clearly. So when it came to uplifting what was currently live, it was imperative that the visual structure remained the same. All it needed was freshening up with the introduction of a new typeface and a redrawn signifier.
(1st Image: ProtonMail Logo before redesigned)
New users were wary of moving to a new email platform because they did not want to endure a new learning curve. They required an interface that was uncomplicated, intuitive and, moreover, familiar to the platforms they were currently using before. This indicated to us that the layout structure and visual design of the new ProtonMail interface should take queues from other mainstream email platforms and offer a good blend of clear navigation and content positioning.
Only one other pain point was to be addressed in updating the icon that denoted the email expiry function. A small test involving three icon replacements led to a new icon that would be featured in the new design.
(1st Image: ProtonMail Website before redesigned)