Analytics for Buffer
As a satellite product team, we were tasked to design and develop a brand new product for Buffer which ended up making over $2 million ARR.
Lead Product Designer
UX · UI · Prototyping · Figma · CSS · JS · Strategy
Our satellite team
At the time, Buffer wanted to explore a multi-product vision so it could diversify its reach for social media marketers. We were very much inspired by what Intercom was doing.
So a small satellite team was set up that had a few engineers, a product manager and myself as the designer. We were time-boxed to come up with a viable product that we could sell in addition to the core Buffer offering. Based on the signals we were getting, and the research were we conducting, a need for better analytics felt important. To be honest, there was a lot lacking in our current analytics offerings, so with that, a new product called Analyze was born.
An overview of how the analytics product looked when released to the public
Spreadsheets were our competition
It can be easy to build endless graphs and charts that overwhelm people. Analytics software can so easily end up looking like a fancy spreadsheet. The Buffer product language was light, friendly, fresh, professional and reliable so this influenced how we wanted to approach this project. The question on our minds was why people use analytics in the first place. We came to realise that it was less about the individual metrics and more about knowing what action to take next.
Looking more closely at interactions whilst maintaining a good level of detail
Work on more visually impactful charts that would help convey data nicely
Working out next steps
So our team got to work. We decided early on to create a new product with a separate codebase from Buffer so we could move fast without relying on legacy tech. This had many benefits for a team like ours as we could keep communication fast and not worry about stepping on other peoples toes. In those early days, I worked closely with our engineers to help prototype tables, graphs, and pages. We felt ReactJS was a good fit for a JavasScript library, as well as using Highcharts to power the visuals.
A peek at my Figma file as I worked through the design system for the product
Research was important
User research and competitive analysis played a huge part in the early days of this product. Our product manager, Tom, and I conducted many interviews to better shape what we should focus on and with that data I worked through many ideas, flows, concepts and prototypes to see what would feel most valuable. Through our research, we had heard time and again that social media managers spent too much time collecting data from individual social media networks and then building reports by hand for their clients, team or boss. Some would even pay someone to do this work for them! Spreadsheets were the tool of choice.
Samples of the auto-generated reports we created from the data
Road to success
We felt there was something strong there so we decided that Analyze would not only provide useful analytics from within Buffer itself but that other social media accounts could be connected separately to maximise potential. With that, we could give social media marketers tools to collect social media data from multiple sources with ease, then automatically generate charts and tables from that data, as well as provide professional-looking reports. Buffer was all about saving time and effort with scheduling social media posts, so we could continue that with analysing social media data too. We felt this product would appeal more to power users, agencies and businesses which would help Buffer reach more markets and charge a higher price.
This was an exciting project to work on as we had a lot of freedom to design and build what we believed was right — and it was working! Our small team had researched, developed and grown a new product, under the Buffer banner, that went on to make over $2 million ARR per year.
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© 2023, James Morris Design