At Onshape, we believe that being close to our customers is critically important to building a great business. That’s why our founding team decided early on that our process for designing and developing new functionality was going to include our customers at every step along the way.

Our commitment to you is most evident in how we handle customer support. With other software applications (not just CAD), making a feature request is like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it out to sea. Then, if you’re lucky, you’ll realize a few years later that the vendor implemented the change you asked for. Radio silence is the norm. There is never communication about the status of your request.

In his blog, “Escaping the Black Hole of Enhancement Requests,” Onshape’s Lou Gallo recalls his frustrations communicating with his CAD vendors while he was an engineer designing robotics control and automation systems. He felt totally ignored. Wanting to prevent similar “black hole” experiences, we created a built-in Feedback tool in Onshape to submit bug reports and enhancement requests directly from the product. Then we took it a step further by integrating those submissions directly into our internal improvement tracking database. You can look up the status of your requests at any time – and when we deliver the functionality you requested, you’ll receive a confirmation email letting you know it’s ready to use.

No more radio silence.

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Onshape's agile process is about quickly identifying, designing, building and testing solutions to your problems, and then iterating on them to get everything just right.

So what happens in between your initial request and our delivery of new functionality? How do we ensure that new features in Onshape do exactly what they’re intended to do? Let’s take a closer look at Onshape’s User Experience (UX) team and how our customers play a critical role in our ongoing usability testing.

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Sticky notes from Onshape’s User Experience team observing a customer usability test of new functionality.

It’s About Your Use Case

During the design process, we’re constantly reviewing your requests, following up on the Onshape Forums, and testing functionality against each shared screenshot and example Document to ensure it meets the need you described. And since Onshape Support is a core part of our User Experience team, we often reach out for more clarification or additional examples from your workflow to ensure we’re meeting your needs.

After all, we’re not the ones who will use this new piece of functionality every day as part of our workflow – you are. So to close the loop on your request, we can’t just throw new functionality over the wall and expect it to work. We need to actually validate that it’s useful, usable and discoverable. That’s where usability testing comes in – and ongoing participation from our customers is vital.

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Thinking about user experience should begin before there is even a product. Here is a paper prototype test of Onshape from 2013, before any code was ever written.

Usability testing at Onshape is a core part of the company culture. The level of polish, usefulness and usability you see in our modern CAD system is a direct result of years of our design and development teams observing customers use new functionality in its intended workflow – and determining what does and doesn’t work as expected. We even do this with designs on paper before a single line of code is written, testing prototypes of conceptual products to make sure we’re only developing things you need.

How You Can Participate in Onshape’s Usability Tests

Interested in helping test upcoming new features and improvements? A typical test takes only an hour and you don’t need to prepare anything ahead of time. You don’t even need an Onshape account. Our team is looking for people of all CAD skill levels to test with us, from beginners to experts with many years of experience. This is a test of Onshape, not you. It’s how we make sure Onshape is going to work for your use case.

During the test, we’ll ask you to walk through a series of brief but realistic tasks with a new feature and give us early, honest feedback. You’ll then debrief with our team and share your reactions to what you just tried. We’ll turn your feedback into actionable improvements and bug fixes, which you’ll see in the next Onshape update!

You can participate in Onshape’s usability testing from anywhere in the world. We’ll send you a GoToMeeting link and a login to one of our testing sites. So even if you’re on the road using the WiFi at Starbucks, you can check out new and upcoming features in Onshape and help us make them even better for you.

We are constantly running tests of different features and functionality. Interested? Just fill out this quick survey and we’ll be in touch to schedule a test. Looking forward to giving you the early scoop on what’s coming next in Onshape!