It’s a story that digital product designers know all too well: Huge amounts of time, energy, and engineering—not to mention money—go into creating a prototype, only to find that the proposed product isn’t viable. The design process begins anew.
Clark Valberg knew there had to be a better way. As an owner of a digital creative agency, he quickly developed a deep dissatisfaction with the inefficiencies of negotiating design directions with clients. Finished products were presented to clients and, in cases where they were rejected, far too much effort was wasted. Valberg wanted a tool that could develop functional prototypes for review without designers needing to spend days or weeks writing code. So, he made it himself.
“When you look at what companies are doing now, prototyping is a very large part—not just for tech companies; it’s essential for any company building products or digital experiences,” says Kayleigh Karutis, content strategy manager at InVision. “But when [Valberg and Nadel] started, it was relatively new, this idea of prototyping without code. They were kind of redefining this product-design workflow.”
InVision has grown rapidly in its first six years. The company now has more than 300 employees, making it one of America’s largest fully distributed enterprises (meaning the entire staff works remotely). Two and a half million people worldwide use the platform, including 75% of Fortune 100 companies—a group that includes IBM, Apple and Verizon. InVision offers both a freemium model and a paid B2B product that connects teams or entire organizations. For the sales team at InVision, there’s a strong emphasis placed on transitioning users from the former to the latter.
“A big focus for 2017 has been identifying the accounts that have the highest value—the biggest potential to use InVision to impact their digital design process,” says Ryan Meeker, director of sales operations. “If we can measure and score those accounts, and then align our sales resources to them, we expect to get the highest return from that.”
InVision uses Salesforce as its core CRM system. Meeker and his team rely heavily on the platform’s ability to aggregate information from a broad range of connected tools, including Sales Navigator, Outreach.io, and Redshift. But it’s the ability of the Salesforce platform to synthesize that information—and offer strong sales leads—that makes it most valuable.
“It’s not just about scoring an individual person, but identifying, based off of usage patterns, the domain,” says Meeker. “Twenty designers may be using the platform, but it might be optimum for us to contact IT or the head of design. We need to have business conversations with people who are comfortable buying software and have seen the benefit of a corporate contract from a security and an IT perspective.”
For many of InVision’s clients, the appeal of a corporate contract lies in the platform’s versatility: While it was first built with designers in mind, its unique, collaboration-centered functionality has been just as revelatory for contributors with different backgrounds.
“Marketers can come in and add their feedback, engineers can come in and get some code, and so on and so forth,” says Karutis. “The idea is to take this ethos of design thinking and expand it beyond the design team—it’s a core part of the company.”
That philosophy of making design approachable is evident in Freehand, one of InVision’s newest products. Featuring full integration with Photoshop and Sketch, Freehand allows users to contribute ideas to a digital whiteboard with various forms of sketching or by adding comments. As a fully distributed company, InVision uses Freehand in-house to connect its employees working remotely.
“Brainstorming sessions can be intimidating for people who aren’t designers,” says Jessica Meher, vice president of enterprise marketing at InVision. “But the people I’ve worked with who have used Freehand say it lowers that barrier. It’s more inclusive, it’s more accessible, and it makes them feel more comfortable contributing in that environment.”
Such accessibility is a central tenet of InVision’s products. It’s something they value in the tools they use as well. “As a Salesforce user and an InVision employee, I see that they’re both leaders within the space,” Meeker says. “We’re not taking a follower position. We’re driving the best-in-class tools for design collaboration for digital product-release cycles, while Salesforce has always been the A-standard for CRM. And we’re both broadening our platforms to serve customers’ needs.”
This article was created for and commissioned by Salesforce.