LOCI was a patent technology startup focused on disrupting the patent search process with an algorithm that looked at the relationship between patents instead of just looking at the patents themselves. I was tasked with creating and establishing LOCI's brand, as well as design the web application that brought the power of this algorithm to the user in the simplest way possible.
In the year prior to my hiring, while the company was seeking its first rounds of VC funding, I worked with the CEO and developers on materializing the vision of the technology. Original concepts for representing the relationship between ideas included points of light that represented individual patents that existed in an abstracted cityscape, with their distance to other patents representing their relationships. The challenge with this initial concept was that it didn't provide enough information to the user visually. As concepts were further explored, a greater focus was given to improving the "at a glance" information. A more cohesive idea formed involving overlapping circles to show where search terms related to each other was created, bringing the design to its eventual final iteration.
With the idea of overlapping circles decided upon, and with my hiring to the team, wireframing began and the final designs took form. Through researching competition and what the market of patent searching was missing, the ability to enter search terms was deemed very important for the experience. A 3 circle venn-diagram was decided upon that allowed users to enter 3 search terms and quickly view those results in a visual space. From that visual overview, the user was able to click on the sections of the venn to see the list of patents that matched those overlapping terms. The fewer the dots, the more novel the concept.
Expanding and Improving
After the search feature of the site was launched, the team didn't stop thinking about how to improve the process of finding novelty of design. Through user research and internal discussions we discovered there was a solution untouched by current patent searching solutions: invention analysis. LOCI's algorithm was able to look at the relationship between search terms, but was also able to do the same for a patent itself. Functionally, this new product would be able to analyze an unpatented idea, allowing you to see if your idea was novel without even needing to search. The user experience and design of this product would need to be very different than the venn-diagram search, so design was brought back to user flows and wireframes. The final designs felt cohesive with the rest of the site, and allowed both the search and invention analysis to supplement each other in the LOCI ecosystem. Additionally, new visual language needed to be established to illustrate to the user what steps they need to take in the analysis process, and how novel their idea is.
Icons and Illustrations
Along with the overall site structure and design, I was also responsible for the visual elements such as the icons and illustrations that existed on the site. My goal with these was to create a visual style that matched the companies voice and goals. LOCI was founded on the idea of "bringing patent searching to the average inventor", as the ability to search patent databases is something normally relegated to those with the money hire patent attorneys. Because of this, the visual elements on the site took a friendly approach, contrasting the stuffy, impersonal perception of the current world of patents. More exploration of this style was done over time, leading to bright, visually striking illustrations that brought a user through the processes of the site and gave more personality to the brand.
Beyond the work done to the site, I was also responsible for creating many other branded designs. This spanned print designs, including business cards and handouts, social graphics, and even some more specific and interesting things like a branded racing car wrap design.