Signing In to Solve Problems 

TechSmith, a leader in screen capture, recording, and editing software, embarked on a transformative journey in 2014 to shift its business model towards Software as a Service (SaaS). A critical challenge identified early in the process was the absence of a unified authentication system across its diverse product portfolio, which included applications across Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and multiple web services spanning self-and cloud-hosted applications.

The Challenge

The initial directive was to implement simple authentication for desktop applications with no attached user value, a proposal that faced significant pushback from product teams due to its limited impact and the associated complexity it would introduce. The feedback prompted a reevaluation of the project's objectives, leading to the ambitious goal of addressing the company's long-time top support issue: users' difficulties in unlocking their software after purchase.

Strategy and Execution

The project evolved into a comprehensive initiative to overhaul the free trial and software unlocking experience. This involved integrating multiple systems, creating a self-service user account portal, and redefining the product trial model to require user sign-in. The strategy required extensive collaboration across the company, including IT, sales, cloud services, and engineering teams.

The Process

  • User Experience Design: I undertook researching and redesigning the trial experience for Camtasia and Snagit, our core products, to require user sign-in, adding new onboarding messages, and creating a seamless post-purchase unlocking experence.
  • System Integration: I worked closesly with systems architects and engineers to deisgn a workflow that associated user IDs with software keys during the purchase process, simplifying the product unlocking process.
  • User Account Portal: I designed and lead the newly formed Identity team in building and launching a new portal that allowed users to manage their software keys, aiding in application re-installs, and providing warnings about pirated software.
  • Authentication Service Development: The Identity team transformed an existing experimental OAuth 2 service into a robust production-worthy auth service, incorporating Single Sign-On capability through Windows Azure Active Directory.

Challenges Overcome

  • Cultural and Technical Barriers: The project faced broad grassroots resistance due to the cultural shift it represented and the technical complexities of implementing a secure sign-in experience across different operating systems and platforms.
  • Trial Model Revision: Modifying the trial model was a particularly sensitive challenge, requiring careful consideration of user friction, privacy concerns, and the company's shareware origins.

The Outcome

Overall, this early initiative towards a service-oriented culture acheived the goals we set out to meet, including a signifcant reduction in support requests related to software unlocking. While the project left some rough edges, the team was able to continue working to improve the service. This project also informed future vendor selections, improved users ability to manage their keys and purchase information, and enhanced future product integrations with cloud services. A later shift in company leadership and subsequent changes in strategy resulted in the disbandment of the teams involved, however the project laid a foundation for TechSmith's continued evolution towards a SaaS model.

Selected Works

Improving Snagit IUEProject type

LoveLansing.comPersonal Project

Managing Through ChangeDesign Leadership

Signing in to Solve ProblemsFoundational Design

A New eCommerce PlatformeCommerce Design