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QuillBot: Gmail extensions success

At QuillBot, I was the original designer for all of its products. After being promoted from Sr. Product Designer to Director of  Product Design my responsibilities shifted overnight. I scaled the design team to include UX research, UX writing, and Design Systems during QuillBot's phase of rapid growth. As the design lead, I continued to be an IC on small projects, but oversaw the evolution of our primitives, scaled operations, and made critical team changes to create greater impact for the organization.

Responsibilities

  • Designed the original modes in Gmail

  • Oversaw 1 manager and 1 IC

  • Collaborated with PM to chunk epics into smaller projects

  • Drive execution

Impact

  • Steady increase in user adoption

  • 4.4 star rating on Google Chrome

  • 3mm downloads

  • Recognized by Chrome 1-3 top productivity apps

Launching grammar correction

As the Director of Design at QuillBot, I spearheaded a project to enhance our Gmail integration. This move was prompted by similar offerings from competitors—Outwrite, Grammarly, and Wordtune. Our objective was to improve the web experience, make QuillBot top of mind using Gmail and lastly encourage users to explore premium services.

The plugin was developed in three phases: a comprehensive grammar correction system, AI-based sentence suggestions, and a Quick Reply feature. All were aimed at improving the user experience.

Phase 1: Grammar correction

Following Jacob's Law we kept the correction cards similar to Grammarly and Wordtune for a sense of immediate intuitiveness, enabling users to jump right in. Our thinking behind mirroring the experiences would also increase retention as it would accelerate adoption.

Grammarly
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QuillBot
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Phase 2: AI sentence suggestions

Users sought various text styles, from formal to creative to simple modes. Premium subscribers appreciated the ability to switch between these styles easily. We aimed to support them by improving the visibility of premium modes, allowing for easy comparisons between textual changes across different modes.

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Phase 3: Quick reply

Our AI-powered sentence suggestions were developed within a 30-day window, using lean and agile design principles. Iterative UI enhancements, supported by weekly critiques and asynchronous squad reviews, improved the visibility of paraphrase modes. These enhancements were made possible by QuillBot's advanced AI language models. Subsequently, we integrated ChatGPT to provide quick reply email responses.

Quick reply appears when a message is responded to. A grammar checker card also appears to aid in grammar correction. A note on the card design, following Jacob’s Law, the design was intentionally made similar to Grammarly for ease of learning.

While integrating the Quick Reply feature, we encountered technical limitations that hindered full automation and required users to enter prompts to generate the replies, whereas Grammarly’s prompt feature is fully automated. Despite these challenges, our sentence suggestions were well received.

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The Quick Reply feature further streamlines communication, empowering users to refine AI-generated responses. While our version mandates manual prompting, the enhanced AI output quality and tailored customization tools enrich the user experience.

The Crescendo of Success

The synergy between our engineering and design teams bore fruit—an impressive 4.4-star rating, a bustling 3 million user base, and Chrome's recognition as a standout 2023 productivity tool. These achievements, rooted in user feedback and solid metrics, underscore the monumental impact of our redesign.

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Reflecting on the Journey Ahead

This project underscored the power of meticulous planning over rushed rollouts. Iterative design methods and cross-functional collaborations emerged as our winning formula. Future endeavors will spotlight rigorous testing, responsive UI tweaks, and a knack for breaking big tasks into bite-sized projects—supercharging design excellence across our engineering and design spectrum.

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Premium conversion rates on QuillBot.com correlate with the academic calendar, peaking at the start of the school year and dipping during summer breaks and holidays (chart). Similar usage patterns are observed with extensions. Moving ahead, conducting UX research becomes imperative to comprehend how extensions integrate into users' daily routines. This understanding will facilitate the creation of an experience that retains daily relevance, effectively breaking the seasonal cycle observed on QuillBot.com.

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