Material Depot 2.0
From a digital library to an HD-textures downloading platform, the big pivot to a utilitarian approach of a cataloging website.
A view of the Material Depot website and app.
Before we begin
I joined Material Depot as a design lead in the role of a Design & Growth Manager. My role was to setup its first setup of hires, and conduct content/design experiments of its first mile to the first 10,000 users - and then work with the founders to execute their product road map.
What's Material Depot?
Material Depot is a website and a mobile app that is designed for architects, interior designers and homeowners to discover materials and get their latest prices.
As an MVP the platform only allowed material discovery as a service, but now with subsequent product experiments the platform has evolved with more features that allow designers to get more value from the information gaps it bridges.
Material Depot 1.0 - Pin, Save, Export.
How project came to existence
The project was a re-design of an earlier version of Material Depot where the objective of pinning was offering less retention and utility not very high utility for architects all along. The user group was re-adjusted to 3D designers and architects who need textures for their initial design processes. This was the digital nature of the platform to offer a vast material library makes sense.
The same roadmap was further extended when Material Depot was later known as the central place to download HD textures and now by more than 30,000 architects in the country. However, to grow a cash flow and build a business angle - we need to introduce methods to buy products online.
This method is currently being piloted offline - and will be slowly embedded as an ecommerce feature.
Evolution of MD
The project experiment started in April end 2022 and ended in July 2022, where most product cycles and revisions ended. After that several re-optimizations took place which are not covered in this presentation.
1 Design Manager (Me), 1 Visual Designer (Megha), 1 UX Writer (Ananya), 1 Frontend Developer (Yogendra), 1 Backend Developer (Amit), 2 Development Interns (Raj & Jai)
Role and Responsibility
1. To layout framework of user research,. questions and setting up customer success team about this new shift.
2. To find overlaps between older features of Material Depot and this new discovered requirements to create its wireframes and then produce final screens based on both.
3. To test rendering and texture maps with new users and finding - relevance and accuracy. At the same time helping tech team to create tools for rendering.
4. To create marketing assets and web assets for this particular switch with visual designers.
5. To design and pre-accomodate vision of the next version of Material Depot 3.0 where ordering.
Problem cards for Material Depot 2.0
Create an experience for 3D designers, architects and interior designers who are looking for HD textures all over the internet but can't find a 1-stop shop for all the textures at a single location.
Competiting websites in similar domain - Poliigon, Sketchup Textures, Quixel Megascans & Adobe Substance.
Brainstorming & Research
As we are positioning ourselves as a rendering assistant for architects and designers - we looked at several existing global texture templates downloading websites and tried to synthesize parallels vs. opportunities between the two.
A key edge we had over those platforms is the templates were more connected to real materials - and that made sense for the use case we are gunning for. Architects and designers are usually looking for photorealism but not at the cost of accuracy.
Hence a perfect looking texture template with no real material to support/implement - or rendering first and hunting later is an approach was our opportunity to get in.
At the same time research went out to platforms like IBO, Material Bank and Youcraft to understand the ordering side of the spectrum. It became a two-pronged approach on a material index that is more useful.
Catalogues in India generally have a images taken only for texture templates. The second big issue is the repulsion to move high volume transactions online - and it will be very challenging to do so in the longer run. Lastly, studios paying for full blown tools like AutoCAD or Sketchup are handful in India - there's no direct monetization possibility on the horizon soon.
Similarly, when we look at the ordering side of building materials: Architects / Interior Designers - are not used to ordering materials online and they are spoilt for choices when it comes to sales representatives waiting outside their offices all the time.
These were the design postulates we generally follow at Material Depot while making things.
The shift in the journey
In the first iteration of the product, Material Depot only looked at the pinning side of the materials and not more. This led to very little users returning the website over and over.
Material Depot 1.0 - Pinning did not work as expected.
Material Depot 2.0 - Journey - Hook that leads to people returning to download materials again and again.
Some of the details explored to make the texture market-place more specific
Toying with Adobe Substance and Blender - to test and generate category specific texture maps for 30,000+ materials.
How the product card evolved over time with 3 stages of Material Depot.
Our new navigation vs. the competition.
Some other screens made for profile / what's new pages.
Some of the ad campaigns created are based on parameters we discovered here.
Static ad campaigns created for texture downloads
Here's how the final screens look like.
UnAuth Main Landing Page
Check this project out live on Material Depot website NOW.
Brands and category navigation
Filter pages and material organizer.
Product page with specs and recommendations.
Compare products and specs.
Here's what Material Depot led to
Stats from Similar web achieved in 6 months from the date website went live.
And organic search got the most traffic out of all sources in perspective.
Growing audiences in a new way.
We kept on speaking to our users and understanding their feedbacks while using the website. Additionally, we use Microsoft Clarity often to understand how users engage with the product and connect the comments to metrics improvements better. Some of the few design feedbacks which were chosen to re-iterate on are as follows.
YES: Categories working as we expect them to be - the top performing categories in our design and seen above are the same.
NO: About 2% users clicking on parts of homepage which they aren't supposed to like the title box, 24hr guarantee circle and bottom band.
OPPORTUNITY: Reviewing filter page tabs and place the ones not used lower in the list.
OPPORTUNITY: Placing more accessible tiles on the top for categories that are doing better in terms of clicks.
The way to Material Depot 3.0