Product designer Drake: I used Fabrie to craft a super cool sneaker from start to finish!

Hey there! The Fabrie team was lucky to bring in sneaker designer Drake. He’s here to spill the beans on how he rocked his design research using Fabrie. We hope his tips help you out. Drake’s the author, and the Fabrie crew gave it an edit.

Introduce yourself

Hey there, I’m Drake, a sneaker designer with a lifelong passion for kicks. That’s why I’m in the sneaker game. As a footwear product designer, research is my secret sauce – it’s like 50% of my gig. It’s how I chat it up with users and build products that make sense.

Lately, I’ve been cooking up a project for urban sporty gals, designing kicks that fit all the city scenes. Early on, my team and I had to dive deep into research and communicate like mad. The pandemic made things trickier, but luckily a friend pointed me to Fabrie docs. After giving it a spin, I thought, “Yep, this is the simple research tool designers crave.” So, here I am, sharing some quick insights.

How did you do research before using Fabrie?

Check out the setup above – a classic designer move with folders for days. I stash loads of pics in these folders for my research, and every project ends up tangled in layers of folders. Hunting down a specific case means endless clicks, then opening pics and docs one by one. It’s a mess, and connecting related info? Good luck.

I tried the Keynote route too, piling images and stuff in there. But honestly, it’s more for my eyes only and feels too formal. So, on and off, that’s been my vibe. And because I haven’t cracked a killer solution, I used to go old school, printing the good stuff and slapping it on my wall for digestion. (Yeah, I know, paper waste galore.)

Does Fabrie actually help?

Once I got my hands on Fabrie and gave it a whirl, I was blown away by how this big ol’ whiteboard could recreate my wall-sticking habit. Let’s not even talk about the other features; the first win for me was having a single page where I could slap pics, screenshots, and text, all sorted by type. It’s a visual feast, and the fact that I can access it on mobile too? Total game-changer for digesting info on the go and staying in sync with the team.

Sure, the whiteboard-style layout can get a bit wild even though it scratches that itch to lay out clues like a detective. But with Fabrie’s multi-dimensional tables, I can tailor-make info lists and link them up with the whiteboard content – kinda neat.

So, here’s how my doc ended up looking:

What’s your typical research process?

For me, research is the journey from inputting information to deriving insights. To break it down further, it involves:

  • Gathering information
  • Categorizing/summarizing information
  • Linking information
  • Generating insights
  • Validating insights
  • Sharing insights

Gathering information

I usually mix different stages of research together, so when it comes to gathering information, I lean towards consolidating ideas and materials as much as possible. Here, I used the drawing tool to create frames and dumped image materials into different frames. Each frame can be resized by dragging, which caters to the hierarchy of different categories of content.

Regarding linking information, Fabrie has a feature that’s an absolute gem, but is often poorly implemented in other software: line connections. These lines can attach to images and text boxes, meaning that once you establish a connection between two objects, even if you change the layout later on, the relationship stays intact. While Keynote offers something similar, the way it attaches elements is baffling – I still haven’t quite figured it out. That leads to manual upkeep, turning the already not-so-fun research organization into even more of a headache.

Generating insights

After tidying up the visual information about current urban sporty lifestyles, my vision for the new shoe’s functional and emotional positioning became much clearer. Next, I continued organizing around these focal points using frames to outline key design insights, thoughtful conclusions, and summarized keywords and visual references. Thanks to team collaboration, this phase of work wrapped up quickly too.

Validating insights

The ultimate goal of research is to generate insights. Building on the organized information and conclusions, I drafted a project proposal for urban sporty lifestyle sneakers. It’s worth noting that the content within the frames can be exported as images – a pretty powerful feature. I could arrange everything nicely, then export it with a click to share with others for presentation, which to some extent replaces Keynote.

Next up, I’ll be expanding the range of sporty shoe styles to cater to a wider audience and various settings, building upon the core designs for winter and summer. There’s another round of opinions to battle within the team, and luckily Fabrie has some templates. I’m planning to use it to gather and plan ideas for the iterative designs each season. Super excited for what’s in store! 😄