Cloud Elements Platform

The Task
With only 3% of free trial users converting into customers, and 85% of those users only visiting the UI once in the 30-day period, how might we improve the free trial experience and increase qualified leads and conversions?


My Roles
User Research, User Interviews, Ideation, UX/UI Design, Prototyping, and Usability Testing

The Scope
4 weeks on a 4-person team

The Tools
Sketch, InVision, Realtime Board, Trello, Google Docs

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Can we really make API Integration Suck Less?

API integration is that daunting task of making a product that no product company actually wants to do.

Why? It’s more than simply connecting to an API. It’s time-intensive, highly technical, and processes are constantly changing.



User Interviews
Data Analysis
Competitive Analysis
Heuristic Analysis

Research Methods



The Opportunity



Empathizing With Users

Understanding user pain points and delights uncovered and validated user needs which helped us form the basis of what we were designing. Our research helped us know what will work in the real world, with real people.



User Flow

According to our data analytics, 80% of Free Trial users go through the below user flow.



Journey Map

By synthesizing our data from user interviews, contextual inquires, and data analyses using affinity mapping, we were able to validate our assumptions and make sense of all of our data.

  1. Set-up: Customers feel positive and optimistic

  2. Explore: Users get excited about seeing the potential

  3. Integrate: Most exits happen here

  4. Get Support: Users love getting help from Cloud Elements customer support and developers



Themes, Patterns, and Insights

Our synthesized data revealed our problem statement, persona, and overall design direction moving forward.



Key External Users


Meet Eric. He’s a developer who has been working in tech for a long time and is familiar with API integration and knows how much it can suck.

What He Needs
A better way to quickly familiarize himself with the platform, features and functionality so he can integrate the APIs needed and determine long-term compatibility with Cloud Elements.

He doesn’t want to read a ton or deal with a lot of documentation.



Want to See Even More Research Data?



Our Solution


Show Users the (Spot)Light
Using a self-guided spotlight feature on top of their existing UI would help concentrate users on where to look. This route was much simpler to engineer than a complete redesign – which is what the client preferred.

And thanks to our UX Writer, we added in copy to bring back the human element to the user flow.


How do you make API integrations suck less? Make the user experience more human, conversational, easy to use, and self-guided.


Making Progress
Research showed that users felt a little lost during the integration. To mitigate this, a progress-bar was added to show where users are in the process and to give them an idea of how much time is left.


Pause & Play
Allowing users to have more control was an important addition. The “Save Progress & Exit” feature was added in to give users the freedom to pause and play where they left off at anytime.



Research, Research, Research

Going Above and Beyond the Scope
Additional research showed that user’s were not completing an API integration for reasons beyond just the user interface. We kept digging into our research and discovered some additional key insights that were contributing to users not completing an API integration.

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Contextual inquires revealed that internal Cloud Elements employees are always putting out fires, and communications are coming from too many channels making it difficult to get info for their clients.

These frustrations have created a siloed working environment that has made work-flows more reactive than proactive.

  • Essentially Cloud Elements staff is existing in survival mode.

  • Processes are unpredictable, not scalable, and doesn't fully support the free trial experience.

A Holistic Approach



Cloud Elements employees need a better way to help users that doesn’t feel chaotic, scattered, and inconsistent so they can spend more of his time doing the things they love.

The Problem



Create a set of standardized methods and processes that are efficient, scalable, and create boundaries for communication with users.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

The broken-window effect. Fix the smalls things first, and make Cloud Elements branding consistent across all channels.

Implement new processes that are scalable for growth company growth.

Continue to learn and grow while remembering the Cloud Elements mission of “Making API Integration Suck Less”.

Feedback Loop
Between each key phase should leave room for internal training and feedback. This will allow internal employees to share their thoughts and have a voice in the changes being implemented.

Proactive Solutions




  • Empower the user to see how many days they have left in trial via email.

  • Clear CTA’s to reach real humans at Cloud Elements.

  • List of help resources including what’s in the platform, how to access API docs, how to contact support.

  • Lists and links to in-depth tutorials.



Lowest-hanging Fruit
Implement tutorial for new free trial users

  • Expand tutorial by adding chapters through an end-to-end integration

  • Consider creating additional tutorials for a few more most popular elements

  • Measure conversions against 10% success metric

Guided packaged sample integration

  • End-to-end integration

  • Gives user more freedom and autonomy

  • Safe space to explore within UI and doesn’t require user to have credentials

Guided tutorials for selected Elements, come with sandbox accounts

  • End-to-end test integration

  • Gives user complete freedom and autonomy

  • Provided for top 16 most popular elements

Next Steps



Next Project