Carbonmade UI

This is a loose case study documenting the various projects and pieces of Carbonmade (2013–2015) – with notes on the goals, aspirations, and the evolution of the app.

  • Role Lead Designer / Illustrator
  • For Carbonmade
  • Date 2013 – 2015
  • Type Web
  • URL

Carbonmade’s New Portfolio Dashboard

Obstacles & Hurdles We Solved For

The following is an outline of the general thoughts and considerations while re-building the Carbonmade platform and expanding it’s feature set.

— Room To Grow

Carbonmade started as a simple way to create a portfolio with a limited but effective list of personalizations on a single theme. To this day, it continues to do that well. Yet the simplicity of the UI couldn’t be extended to incorporate the team’s new directions as a more modern / competitive offering within the portfolio space.

— Legacy Users & Change

There was already a large user-base (~900,000+ in 2014) using and depending on the service’s predictability and long-standing features catered to non-technical minded individuals looking for an easy portfolio. We needed to tread lightly but also move quickly to find a solution for two different demographics: (1) People who don’t know they need something new and (2) People who were looking for change.

— Too Easy To Leave & Let Be

After you’re done tweaking and updating your portfolio you have little to no reason to return until you have something to update it with. If you’re like most makers, that can be weeks to months to years out.

The challenges here are: (1) In the span they’ve been gone they will have missed a whole time-slot of iterations and new features that can be overwhelming all at once; 2) We believed the portfolio of the future is a more active and engaging creature that shifts and grows as you do, not laying dormant / static; (3) Once people get jobs [mission accomplished!] with their portfolios, they have little reason to update or pay for the service (oh, bummer…). Thus, the saying, “A good product can put itself out of business” really applies.

— The “Your Site Is An Island” Problem

Each portfolio was an island. Most people don’t have the resources or time to leverage a large network or let alone keep a smaller one up-to-date as things are added or availability to take on new work changes. The Carbonmade ecosystem, as it stood, was disconnected and lacked a base for promotion to entice scouts (people looking to hire) to come and find prospective clients.

Results: New Paid Subscribers

We began a slow rollout of the Carbonmade interface to unpaid subscribers in September. We saw a steady increase of new subscribers that has continued to increase while subscribers leaving has stayed steady and even decreased.

Graph A – New Subscribers


— We needed more than one theme. They all needed to be well-built and have a personality of their own without being alienating to the individual trying to fit themselves into it.
— We wanted the individual to be able to seamlessly move between themes of drastically different layouts and personality, while retaining the integrity of the content and existing design preferences (i.e. light vs. dark background, cropping & image ratios, serif or san-serif, etc.).

Design Section & Theme Picker

1 to 1 Design

  • We wanted the individual to see what they were changing as they changed it. We wanted to move the interface slowly towards inline-editing in the least obtrusive way by avoiding a mess of hovering objects.
  • We wanted the process of designing the portfolio to be easy – to have the least amount ‘decision fatigue’ while still having an impactful list of choices to personalize the user’s output.

A bit of the marketing material to go along with our first beta push of the new interface.

Learned Output Aspirational Roadmap

  • We wanted the portfolio to eventually become a place where you provide the most amount of information with the least amount of tedium, and magically output things in the best possible way for their use case (i.e. organized, easy on the eyes, and succinct).

The mobile version of our network for both makers and scouts.

Promotional & Hiring Tools

  • We wanted to connect portfolios together so that people looking for a particular individual would know where to look.
  • We sought to build a network where the maker could post regularly and update when they had new projects. As a maker, they could also follow along to portfolio updates of other makers to gain inspiration or build a community.
  • We wanted to take away the hard-to-do promotional efforts of social media while creating interconnectedness and an easy way to update your portfolio.
  • We wanted to build tools specifically for Scouts (people hiring) in order to sort, organize, and find prospective hires while still casually observing a maker’s progress as they continue to update their portfolios with new projects, and changing availability.

Carbonmade’s messaging app for communicating between Talent and their prospective clients.

Search results as part of the network.

Profile Signup Cards for the outland (not signed-in) flow.

Project manager

Project Management

  • We wanted to keep the simplicity of managing a project as it existed prior, while incorporating the ability to view it as it was built.
  • We wanted to create a staging process for creating and ultimately sharing the project — without the ambiguity of, “Is someone seeing my portfolio broken right now?”

Early version of the portfolio app’s primary navigation.