A Marriage Proposal with Adobe XD

In an industry full of savvy people and smart technologies to support them, it can be difficult to surprise or even impress the cynics among us in tech.

Even the most cynical will have to admit, however, that it is pretty cool to see what our peers can do with a little thought and the right software. Lee Chapman, head of success at CakeHR (a human resources software company in London), for instance, recently completed his professional goal of learning the ins and outs of user experience (UX) design and a personal goal of proposing to his girlfriend. Here they are (so cute):

Using the design and prototype tool Adobe XD, Chapman created a Tinder-like dating app (how the pair met) to create what he jokingly referred to as his "minimum viable proposal" (a play on words, of course, for minimal viable product).  

donLike Tinder, Chapman's then-girlfriend Zane (pronounced Zana) was able to move through dating prospects within the app (see image). The app included other interactive features as well like a scavenger hunt through their city while Chapman waited at home for the "user" to complete the app experience and ultimately "convert."

On the final screen, the prototype led Zane back to their house where Chapman "popped the question" to an affirmative "yes."

Although not as romantic, Website Magazine wanted to learn about Chapman's experience with Adobe XD, its features and more, so we reached out to the newly engaged executive:


What were your perceptions about Adobe XD prior to using?

Chapman, CakeHR: As Adobe is a vastly reputable company and leader in the creative business market, I had no doubts that Adobe XD would be useful and intuitive at my level. I had also previously worked with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom and some other Creative Cloud tools. The fact that my boss, Kaspars Upmanis (CEO and founder of CakeHR) sat me down first thing on a Monday morning to show me the beta product of XD sent a strong message before I had even set my fingers upon a keystroke. As a business leader, he would not have done so without there being something special that we could take away from the software.


Were you surprised by any of the functionality of Adobe XD once you got started?

Chapman, CakeHR: I was pleasantly surprised by the light user interface (UI) design of the product. The UI complemented the UX without feeling that the features were scarce. The Prototype feature that Kaspars demonstrated to me was an eye-opener. I couldn't believe this was in a beta product. Seeing that alone, I felt a world of possibilities opening up for me and CakeHR. We had been exploring how to design and develop our native iOS and Android applications following a recent pivot in strategy. Prototyping meant we could collaborate with our freelancer designers and in-house developers while building wireframes for UI and maps for UX together. One feature that I use now more than others is the Repeat Grid - a super effective way of duplicating elements consistently across artboards.


Did you have a backup plan in case the app didn't work out?

Chapman, CakeHR: Did I have a backup proposal plan if there was no chance it would work? No. There was a point-of-no-return and I knew what I needed to do to get to that stage. Testing was not a problem for me as I was able to test using mobile versions in my office. Saving in the Creative Cloud and testing the latest iterations was seamless, and if I had known there to be issues with the app UX, I would not have gone through with it. The ability to create this app and experience came entirely from my heart. It had to have worked, or else there would have been no proposal that day. I probably would have waited and invested in a native app and paid friends to code, but I was confident that I could make my "minimum viable proposal" (MVP) in XD.

My only concern was that my girlfriend (now fianc‚Äö√†√∂¬¨¬©e!) Zane's phone OS was out of date. I tried to download the Adobe XD viewer for iOS a few nights prior to it happening but I had to convince her, cunningly, to delete Instagram and Facebook (no easy feat!) to install the latest OS version overnight without giving the game away. If updating had failed, my backup plan was to create a version for Android, leave my phone at home and call her up from somewhere else with instructions to use my Android phone instead! (Just one of the many fallback plans I was making up on the spot).  The app was responsive enough to work on Android without hassle.


Do you think you'll bring your new skills and/or software knowledge to CakeHR?

Chapman, CakeHR: Being a startup and currently targeting customers in the Baltics, we are in a pretty good position that allows us the flexibility to be experimental.

I started out at CakeHR as head of customer success, so Kaspars motivates and trusts me to work alongside him and the rest of the team to build a successful product for the huge HR tech market. We are able to iterate quickly and in line with our product roadmap and business strategy. I recently attended a masterclass in human-centered design led by Rostislav Roznoshchik. I came out of that class understanding that even through small day-to-day tasks beyond my career -  whether I'm being sold coffee, listening to music at a concert, navigating through an application or having a conversation - my passion for a unique user experience will continue to grow.

Through the class and using Adobe XD, I feel I have connected the dots for a passion to design experiences for others. This new personal drive will certainly allow CakeHR to grow as a business and to do it efficiently. I'm looking forward to learning and applying new methods of "design thinking" into our company and using Adobe XD as a kickstarter for prototyping. Of course, I am also seeing how this can be applied to me personally - the app I created is an extension of that vision and drive from inside. The personal incentive behind this drive, rather than an entrepreneurial motive, has actually led to greater understanding as I learned about user experience design.


matchYour app has a 100% conversion rate, any advice for other app makers about increasing conversion?

Chapman, CakeHR: Everything went going to plan: she onboarded into the app well, went to each place in the scavenger hunt I created (you can read the whole story here) and had not rushed forward in the process. This gave me time to get set up back at home. For a good hour and a half, I sat at home, in a suit with a bouquet of flowers in the sweltering heat while my girlfriend, as naive as she was to the whole concept, spent her time alone enjoying the moment and having coffee and cake. In fact, I had enough time to set up a room full of roses and balloons and puppies but would that have gotten me that "I do" at the end? Probably, but whether you're a designer or head of success, we all strive for that "WOW" moment with our customer as quickly as possible.

The reality is that, despite standing Zane up twice when she expected me, along each step of the way I was able to get a "WOW" moment from her (in the form of tears of happiness) without realizing it. I did not anticipate the reaction of Zane at each place and the time it would take her to get back home - a fault of my own, but not necessarily a negative outcome! The "WOW" moment is not actually about the app or solution you provide, but the customer's experience and engagement. If I had given access to multiple people, some may have enjoyed walking from A to B, others would have enjoyed the letters I wrote, and the rest - the application UI.

In the app I created, I made sure that there were enough options to give my girlfriend the perceived free will to move ahead in her own manner but ensured that all paths led to the same goal - to get her home and say "yes." You may only have one shot at giving somebody a unique experience, so let your customers bask in those moments as long as they need.

Naturally, I chose the name "LuverZ" to reflect our names L for Lee and Z for Zane, but the first engagement a potential customer has with your app should not only relate to their persona, but to their culture too. Based on previous personal experience with such an app (we're a #TinderSuccessStory), Zane was able to easily "swipe right." But had I given her options in drop down menus, radio buttons or even speech-recognition and GPS tracking, the experience would have been a total flop.


Anything else you'd like to add?

Chapman, CakeHR: I really hope that this innovative proposal will inspire others. For those new to UX design who are passionate about experiences and technology, my advice is to dive into the process. Prototype an MVP for those around you and learn from the experience of another human being. Create a "would you rather‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√묨‚àÇ?" app for your lover and laugh, or create a treasure hunt for your child to find the cookies after cleaning up. Prototype for one person, iterate for 10, develop for 100 then sell to 10,000‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√묨‚àÇ then you can begin to disrupt.