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Four of the judges in the UX Design of the Year category, from left: Geoff Harrison, Jenni Mattons, Mike Davidson and Karen Clark Cole. (GeekWire Photo)

Editor’s note: The GeekWire Awards event has been postponed to May 19

The technology that we interact with on a daily basis relies on design that can help it stand out in today’s vast sea of digital products. A good user experience, or UX, is more than just window dressing — it’s a crucial component of running a successful business.

In a new category at the 2020 GeekWire Awards, five startups are competing for UX Design of the Year. These companies include 98point6, Karat, Skilljar, Spruce Up and Tagboard.

awards 2020 ux design blinkEach finalist was asked to explain in 200 words or less how their UX design elevates their product. Judges in this category were Jenni Mattons, head of product at GenUI; Mike Davidson, VP at InVision; Kimberly Wiessner, principal of UX and design experiences at REI; Karen Clark Cole, CEO at Blink; and Geoff Harrison, chief design officer at Blink.

We’ve opened voting in 13 GeekWire Awards categories, and community votes will be factored in with feedback from more than 20 judges. On May 19 we will announce the winners live on stage at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave Business — in front of more than 800 geeks at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.

Cast your vote for this category, presented by Blink, and get your GeekWire Awards tickets below. Scroll down to learn more about each finalist.

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98point6

Seattle-based telemedicine startup 98point6 operates a chat and video-based healthcare app that combines artificial intelligence with physicians who communicate with patients in real-time. By using AI to streamline the patient intake and documentation process, the startup aims to lower healthcare costs. Last fall, the company partnered with Walmart-owned Sam’s Club to bring telemedicine to members.

In their own words:Misunderstanding or lack of trust between doctor and patient can change the course of care, and as a result, the health of the individual. In addition, access to care at the time it’s needed can be cumbersome for the average consumer. We implemented our “Hammond” Design System to achieve a simple, yet dynamic system that supports the complex needs of patients. A secondary goal was ensuring our app was fully accessible and design-inclusive. Our system utilizes large font and high-contrast colors to enable broad accessibility and clarity appropriate for discussing one’s health. Our interface leads with conversational text making the patient feel at ease, while simplifying the task at hand. These tasks are diverse — ranging from explaining symptoms to disclosing medical history to finding the nearest pharmacy. Our system is dynamic, adjusting for pediatric or adult visits, first-time users or follow-ups. The goal is to ensure the patient feels heard and knows their care is personalized. Time is a key barrier to accessing care, so our system prioritizes efficiency by making it easy to answer questions with single-tap responses or to follow up on previous visits. Implementing a standardized system allows us to innovate faster and deliver new features more efficiently.”

Judges’ comment: “98point6 has created a simple and consistent interaction model that creates a ‘human’ experience that is friendly, fast and efficient.”

Karat

Plenty of companies want to help make it easier to find the right candidates for jobs. This Seattle startup’s technical interview platform streamlines the process for finding sought-after engineers. It raised $28 million last year.

Karat Studio, above, and a candidate dashboard. (Karat Images)

In their own words:The interview is a fundamental step in careers and life. It’s the singular moment that connects people to economic empowerment, and businesses to talent, but it’s been an overlooked step in the hiring process — particularly for candidates. This year, Karat released Karat Studio. A new fully tooled coding and video interview engineering studio for hosting technical interviews that lets candidates demonstrate their capabilities in a comfortable and familiar environment. Karat Studio interviews are hosted by highly experienced senior interview engineers using battle-tested questions that are relevant to the role to give candidates a fair, predictive and enjoyable experience. We designed Karat Studio with the candidate experience in mind, which is why it operates 24×7 with automated scheduling. In fact, candidates appreciate being able to interview outside of working hours so much that 60 percent of our interviews occur during off-hours, which gives clients access to a greater number of passive candidates who want to interview on their own time.”

Judges’ comment: “Karat has an innovative and collaborative interview experience with a full-service wrapper.”

Skilljar

Founded by two Amazon vets, this startup provides the back-end technology and software that lets companies build cloud-based training and onboarding programs for their own users. Skilljar raised $16 million in 2018.

Screenshots of the Skilljar Learner, top, and Skilljar Admin UX. (Skilljar Images)

In their own words:We exist to help our community build amazing customer education programs and we are incredibly proud of our community’s impact: Over 2 million students educated, over 5 million session hours, over 60 million lessons. Our product has an admin experience and a learner experience, so there are several users to design for. We use a persona-based approach to learn about our users and design with their needs, and the jobs they need to do, in mind. We are obsessed with making our customers successful and are willing to go above and beyond to do so. We approach user experience design by starting with what adds value for our customers and work backwards. Although our enterprise-grade platform supports complex use cases, on the admin side, we strive to make our users’ lives easier by not overwhelming them with choices and helping them to make good decisions quickly. On the learner side, we understand that it’s crucial for users to discover content and solve their problems efficiently, and our UX approach takes that into consideration every step of the way. The success of our product depends on the learner’s ability to find what they need to learn, learn it and successfully solve their problem.”

Judges’ comment: “Skilljar has turned a complex curriculum experience into a guided or flexible model based on user needs.”

Spruce Up

This décor and interior design platform does for decorating what Stitch Fix or Armoire is doing for fashion, leveraging artificial intelligence to curate products for users’ homes. The startup — which founder Mia Lewin calls “a hyper-personalized e-commerce company” — has raised $4.5 million in seed funding.

(Spruce Up Images)

In their own words:Spruce Up is all about high quality design, so every new feature starts with a beautiful visual design, informed by our strong brand and style guide language. When users are shopping our site, we want the mechanics of the interface to take a backseat to the beautiful brand and product visuals that both elevate our brand and reassure the user that they are shopping for only the highest quality products. That said, our intuitive and unobtrusive UX is always available where and when the user needs it. Fortuitous discovery and progressive enhancements allow the user to perform incredibly elaborate operations without having to think about the complexity hidden under the covers. Completely novel shopping experiences are enabled with a seamless, seemingly effortless UX. The end result is simultaneously a beautiful and an unobtrusive interface.”

Judges’ comment: “Spruce Up has created an exploratory, engaging, fun and interactive way to get personalized recommendations.”

Tagboard

This startup’s production software helps users tell stories for audiences that have come to expect a more interactive and socially driven experience. Watch Tagboard Producer in action here.

Screenshots show Tagboard Producer, top, and the output. (Tagboard Images)

In their own words: “‘It’s so easy! This is a game-changer’ In 2019, Tagboard won favor with the top broadcast and sports brands with an industry-changing product, Tagboard Producer. Taking real-time content production to the cloud, the user experience of Tagboard Producer took on an antiquated, manual, hardware and people heavy process that averaged 35 minutes per piece of content to execute, and eliminated time and people needed to execute real-time storytelling in under 1 minute. You learn to use this product in 15 minutes or less. User examples include The NBA on TNT, which won a 2019 Emmy using Tagboard Producer, and FOX Sports’ execution of the most innovative, interactive live show ever seen, from Paris, for the Women’s World Cup.”

Judges’ comment: “Tagboard has made a collaborative and efficient interaction model to support rapid decision making and production.”

A big thanks to our longtime awards presenting partner, Wave Business, for supporting this fun community event. Also, thanks to gold and category sponsors: BCRAEYJLLPremera, WSGR and Blink. And to our supporting sponsors First Tech Federal Credit Union, Bader MartinAkvelonFlyhomes, Funko and Moz. If interested in sponsoring a category or another component of the GeekWire Awards, please contact us at advertising@geekwire.com.

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