Fetch is a web application that facilitates the ordering and reordering of print materials. It was conceived by a Kansas City printer to provide their customers not only with the status of their print orders, but a running history of all their orders so that they could easily be reordered at a later date. It is also a general customer service tool where clients can post messages and start conversations with administrators about the details of their orders. If that sounds boring, then you don’t how exciting life can be when things that were once difficult are made easy. How exciting can it be? Real exciting.
When we were approached about Fetch, Fetch didn’t exist. It didn’t have a brand, or a complete list of features; it didn’t even have a name. The printer behind it, Lithosource in Kansas City, just knew that there must be a way to leverage technology to make the process of ordering, tracking and reordering a print job easier for them and their customers. The objective was simply to create this online application, but the challenges were much more complex. The system needed to give some peace of mind to the customer for whom the opacity of the printing process could sometimes lead to anxiety and telephone calls asking after the status of their print jobs. To achieve this, we knew the biggest challenge would be user experience design; it was far and away the one component that simply had to be done right. Without usability, the tool won’t be used. A tool that won’t be used isn’t a tool any longer, it is a waste. We also knew that this project was an opportunity to create software that could work for other printers and give our client something they could license for the greater good of the print industry. A distinct and pleasing brand identity (name, logo, color, and aesthetics) was therefore important.
To begin the project, we prototyped the whole application in wireframes in order to solve all the usability problems before any aesthetic or engineering design took place. As a result, the user experience design serves the goals of both the user and the administrator, making everyone’s life easier — not something that software always does, even though it is almost always the intent. We decided to build the site using Ruby on Rails, which meant fast development and more flexible code, enabling us to move faster and easily refine things as the project came to life. This bleeding-edge engineering contributed not only to the software’s utility, but also to its “feel.” Crisp, responsive, solid.
We are also quite proud of the brand, with its memorable colors and clear spot-coloring. The interface and graphic design presents the tool as friendly, fast, and willing to work hard for the person in front of the keyboard. The name and dog logo inherently predisposes a user to feeling in charge, and the software as eager to help. Good dog, indeed.