Velop is a mesh Wi-Fi system that is distinctly different from anything Linksys had made before.
It is modular to allow users to get the Wi-Fi coverage they want, no matter how big the house or how thick their walls.
It has a small elegant enclosure with hidden ports and built-in cable management so it looks great anywhere in your home.
It also includes a new app-based setup experience that is simple, friendly and helpful if anything goes wrong.
Upon launch, Velop became the highest rated product in customer satisfaction that Linksys makes. It won the PC Mag Editor’s Choice for 2017, Best of CES 2017, and had the highest Amazon and BestBuy ratings in the Linksys product line.
Apple chose Velop to be the first, and only, third party router system to be sold in Apple Stores around the world.
With Velop’s success, Linksys’ Net Promotor Score doubled, and Linksys moved to 1st place in Overall Satisfaction among all router manufacturers in the J.D. Power Wireless Router Satisfaction Report.
“Brain dead easy setup. Attractive and not ‘clunky’ router look. No external ugly antennas!”
“The Linksys Velop is absolutely awesome. Easy setup. Nice Design. Coverage is amazing. Linksys App worked really well for me. Small portable nodes are great.”
“Velop Nodes are very attractive & blend with any architecture. Easy to use App with great diagnostics. Wire Management at the base is excellent & offers a wire free appearance.”
With my engineering background and experience with industrial design and marketing, I take a hands-on, holistic approach to product development that extends beyond the traditional role of a PM or UX manager.
I managed the team of 7 UX designers and 3 UI designers who were responsible for conceptualizing and designing the app-based setup experience.
I led the strategic research that served as the foundation for the Velop project, conducting more than 30 in-home interviews and 20 focus groups around the country.
I collaborated with the hardware and firmware engineers to prototype and define key product attributes.
I worked with the industrial designers to define the principle goals of the enclosure design and designed the LED, button and port behaviors.
I contributed heavily to the packaging, branding, and out-of-box experience and my team and I created the printed quick start guide.
As the co-product manager, I defined the key product features and requirements, wrote the functional specifications and design specifications, set priorities, helped guide development, wrote JIRA stories and negotiated compromises.
THE RESEARCH PROCESS
When I started my work in the Linksys division, their focus, like the rest of the industry, was exclusively on price and speed but many of their users were unhappy. I wanted to find out why.
To do this I started a number of new processes to gather data:
I led over 30 in-home interviews where we watched users troubleshoot issues, set up new routers, and dug into their relationships with their existing routers; how they picked them, what they knew about them, what they were frustrated by, and what they did when they had problems.
I helped organize more than 20 focus groups across the country to observe how people make purchasing decisions, and to test early product concepts.
I changed the way customer service call data was collected and categorized in order to better capture the reasons users were encountering problems and how they were trying to fix them.
I set up weekly usability testing sessions in our lab and brought in over 600 users throughout the design process to observe how people tackled specific tasks both with our prototypes and and our competitors’ products.
We learned over half of all router users are unhappy with their wi-fi coverage, but most do nothing to fix it because they hate interacting with their routers and fear making it worse.
Cheaper, faster routers weren’t going to address this.
Since traditional routers were no longer serving the needs of modern life, we started fresh and created one of the first consumer friendly, beautifully designed, truly robust mesh wi-if systems.
To make a product easy to use you have to start at the foundation. I worked with our firmware and hardware engineers to find creative ways of eliminating pitfalls users might encounter.
I worked extensively with firmware engineering to design a mechanism leveraging bluetooth and hidden wi-fi networks to securely pair routers together with a single button press in the app. This was the foundation that allowed us to create a seamless wi-fi network with better coverage than a single router could provide.
I explored and defined antenna orientation specifications to accommodate a broader range of placement possibilities than traditional routers.
I collaborated with firmware engineers to design a mechanism to automatically detect if an ethernet port is being used as a WAN or LAN connection to avoid having unused ports and eliminate the possibility of users plugging things into the wrong port.
I designed a system to secure the router’s default password without users needing to configure it during setup and a unique password reset PIN system so users could reset lost passwords without needing to factory reset and setup the product again.
I designed a patented mechanism for identifying if users have placed their routers the optimal distance apart that included helpful, animated instructions for recovering if things are too close or too far.
THE INDUSTRIAL DESIGN
My research showed most users disliked traditional aggressive router designs and absolutely hated wires. They wanted something small and with as few wires as possible.
Our goal to make something our users would be willing to place out in the open so it could provide the strongest Wi-Fi.
As such I defined the user-driven requirements for the enclosure and participated in the enclosure ideation process to create a router with a small footprint, hidden ports, built-in cable management and a 360 degree aesthetic that didn’t need to be hidden away.
To further the design's unobtrusive friendliness I pushed for a single RGB LED and defined the LED behavior and colors. I also built and coded the LED hardware prototypes and designed the non-linear perceptual “breathing” algorithms.
I also specified the hardware button behaviors, the button and port labels and designed the informational hardware stickers that included details such as the backup setup wi-fi details and the password reset PIN.
THE SOFTWARE UX
I led the 7 person UX team and 3 person UI team in designing the app experience where our users would spend most of their time.
Our focus was twofold.
First, create a friendly and welcoming setup experience that would reduce the pain and stress normally associated with router setup.
Second, design safety nets into the process to catch users when things go wrong and provide friendly, detailed instructions for getting back on track.
For more details please see the App-based Router Setup case study.
THE PACKAGING & BRANDING
Velop’s packaging and branding is a dramatic departure from the traditional Linksys style, enticing the modern consumer with a beautifully approachable new WiFi experience.
I collaborated closely on the branding and packaging designs and helped lead the focus group testing of the packaging.
I worked closely with our packaging engineers to test and refine the final out-of-box experience to be clean and instructive.
I designed and led testing for a dramatically different quick start guide that simply led the user to the app where we could provide more detailed and customized instructions.