How MetaLab Recoups an Entire Day Every Week Using Loom — and Builds Better Products for Clients
“Loom enables us to maximize our impact as a distributed company by helping us collaborate and share ideas more easily.”
— Andrew Reynolds, Design Lead, MetaLab
Frustrated by meetings and other distractions and searching for ways to become more efficient
MetaLab is a product agency that works with companies like Slack, Google, and Notarize to ship digital products that are simple, beautiful, and easy to use. Their globally distributed design team were experts at making the world a smaller place. With clients and teammates spread across multiple time zones, they utilized diverse digital tools to maintain communication and collaboration throughout the design process.
While everyone on the team worked hard to become one of the best product design firms in the world, certain aspects of communication were slowing them down. A common frustration was the seemingly endless flow of synchronous meetings.
Because MetaLab is a collaborative agency, there were regular meetings to facilitate ideation, design reviews, and other creative tasks. Although necessary, these could interrupt the ebb and flow of project work, leaving the team time-starved and frustrated.
“For most of our projects, we work in five-day design sprints, so efficiency is important,” says Design Lead Andrew Reynolds. “As a distributed team, we were always hopping on video calls to share ideas or gather design feedback, but those meetings weren’t super-productive.
“While all our meetings are planned and run well, often we’d all have a bunch of work to share and people would feel rushed to get through it, or there would be periods of interruption which made it difficult to get through a complete set of thoughts.
“Inevitably, meetings took longer than planned and when they didn’t accomplish everything, we still had to augment them with other channels, like posting work in Slack or sending links and emails, which ate up everyone’s time.”
The team’s productivity and efficiency were being further impacted by writing long and often complex emails.
“If we had a designer in one time zone wrapping up their day when I was starting mine, they’d handoff to me by email,” says Andrew. “This tended to waste a lot of time. The emails were always well-considered and thoughtful, but there was a risk you’d misinterpret a point, take the wrong direction, do the wrong piece of work, or just be left with more questions to ask — which could leave you behind by a day.”
MetaLab faced similar frustrations whenever they carried out design reviews and collaboration with their clients.
“Design work is very contextual and based on specific decisions you’ve made and there’s always a story behind it,” explains Andrew. “So when we had video meetings with clients or shared work by email, it was really easy to miss something. Without all of that context, clients would jump in and voice their feedback, which could disrupt the story and become a detriment to the process of getting a product developed.”
Andrew and his design team were eager to find new ways to become more efficient. Every small inefficiency, from a simple work overlap, to someone idly waiting on an answer from someone in a different timezone, was putting the brakes on getting products to market.
“We needed a productivity tool that would help us deliver more value to our clients,” says Andrew. “We wanted a solution that would enable us to reduce unnecessary meetings, reduce synchronous time with our globally distributed teams, and speed up our design process.”
Team-wide adoption of Loom increases collaboration and speeds up communication
Keen to clear their calendars of synchronous meetings and take back more of their valuable time, Andrew and his team turned to video messaging platform Loom.
Unlike other tools that take days of training before you can use them, Loom’s learning curve was virtually instantaneous.
“I was pleasantly surprised with how simple and effective Loom was at doing what it does. At the touch of a button, you could start recording a video and when you were finished, Loom created a link, so you could share it instantly,” says Andrew.
Because Loom was so simple to use, Andrew had no pushback when he asked his team to create Loom videos to support key stages of their workflow.
“I was impressed with how easy it was to convince my team to use Loom,” says Andrew. “They quickly saw that making a video was as simple as hitting record, adding their screen, talking and sharing the content. The time between asking them to experiment and then seeing them adopting Loom was a matter of days.”
The team found immediate value using Loom to collaborate at the “blue sky” ideation stage of projects. Instead of having to find a suitable window where every team member was available, individuals could record their ideas whenever it was convenient, and without anyone interrupting their train of thought.
“Loom videos have become pivotal at the ideation phase of work,” says Andrew. “For example, doing UX design early on in the project is very much about coming up with as many solutions as we can for a specific problem. The Loom videos allow every designer to share and collaborate on ideas. By the end of a phase of work, you can see how much more refined and improved our ideas are.”
Once a design sprint is underway, Loom keeps collaboration flowing. Where meetings were previously the norm, Loom videos have replaced them at almost every step, including:
Requesting feedback on designs — Loom allows designers to show their visuals on screen and walk the team through all the background story and context.
Giving feedback on designs — Loom enables designers to leave reactions and feedback in real time.
Providing project handoffs — instead of writing long paragraphs of text when they hand over work to another designer, team members now use Loom to share exactly where they are on a project, and what’s required of the next designer. Finally, they can convey all the detail and nuance that’s next to impossible to achieve with text alone.
Delivering project updates — instead of breaking everyone’s creative flow and coordinating schedules to find time for a synchronous meeting, team managers now record and share project updates for their teams with Loom.
Whatever the design team uses Loom for — from providing critiques to sharing ideas — the platform speeds up communication and increases collaboration, all the while reducing the need for meetings.
“As a design team, a lot of the process from sprint to sprint is based on ideating and collaborating on a set of problems or building out a set of features,” says Andrew.
“Loom lets us have continuity and share ideas, bounce things back and forth, without it having to take up too much of our workday. It lets us create a much richer and dynamic experience in terms of taking somebody through work that we've done than long paragraphs of text or an instant Slack message.”
The task of communicating their ideas with clients is also transformed with Loom. MetaLab shares two Loom videos a week with clients, which not only keeps them in the communication loop, but ensures they understand the rationale behind the team’s work.
“Loom is a lifesaver when we present work to clients,” explains Andrew. “One of the challenges we’ve had previously is there's often a narrative that goes along with sharing concepts that we want client feedback on. Loom is great, because it allows the designers to control the narrative without interruption, weave that story, and then share it out with a client, so that when they're ready, they can digest the video, give us their input, and help us make really critical decisions.”
From the earliest seed of a product idea through to full fruition, Loom has improved MetaLab’s productivity and enabled the team to be more collaborative, innovative and inspired.
“Loom has changed the way we work,” says Andrew. “Having a video communication tool that makes it so simple to share what we’re working on has created flexibility for our team, tightened feedback loops, and made working with a global team even more accessible.”
A full day saved on every sprint, so MetaLab can provide more value and better products for clients
Andrew’s design team have quickly become heavy power users of Loom and their productivity has skyrocketed.
He estimates that swapping out meetings for looms saves the team a full day on every design sprint, and that’s a big deal. With average sprints lasting five days, the team is now 20% more productive, giving designers valuable time back to focus on refining creative ideas and getting products to market faster.
This surge in productivity equates to significant value added to projects. With senior design time typically billed at around $2,000 a day, clients’ dollars go a lot farther. As a result, the products MetaLab designs are more beautiful and easier to use than ever before.
“Instead of wasting time in meetings, shorter, more efficient video messaging with Loom has replaced it, which saves us many, many hours, particularly at the tail end of a project. Thanks to Loom, we’re communicating faster across our remote global teams and having more meaningful collaboration and feedback with our design work. Design reviews, both internally and with our clients, are more effective. No one duplicates work or wastes effort on the wrong task, and our sprints run like clockwork.”
As a product designer himself, Andrew appreciates the clean UX, ease of use and visual design of Loom.
“We build digital products for clients, so we want to use digital tools that are inspiring to us — and Loom’s execution is really strong,” says Andrew. “It has simple, focused, elegant design, great UX, and specifically solves for one problem. When we work on our own client projects, we strive to make it the Loom equivalent of whatever space we’re working in.”
Andrew says MetaLab is a better product agency thanks to Loom.
“Loom enables us to maximize our impact as a distributed company by helping us collaborate and share ideas more easily,” says Andrew. “Loom has become critical to our decision-making process and client input. It has helped us create a more open, collaborative environment where it’s efficient and fast to communicate, whether the recipient is in the next city or many continents away.”
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