Inventor, Designer, Business, Marketing, Startup SaaS
4 friends realized a shared passion for making websites more accessible, visually accurate and usable. An idea was born, hard work followed and a startup SaaS product emerged.
As a creative software agency, we were frustrated with the lack of tools to visually test web software and share the results with team members and clients. Our visual quality assurance and accessibility testing process in different browsers and devices was slow, inconsistent and lacked the consensus we strived for.
Additionally, one of our team members and inventors suffered from deuteranopia (red-green colorblindness), which caused real-world issues using software and hardware.
The visual and accessibility testing tools market was full of scripted testing software that was inflexible and lacked visual testing. The few companies that did provide visual testing had poor pricing models, slow performance and in the end were unreliable resources.
The four of us, Dean Vukas, Josh Hatwich, Charles Stevenson and Ted Billups realized we had an opportunity and responsibility to solve these problems for ourselves and the world.
Work began on business strategy, architecture, user experience design, software development, and branding. The web software allowed users to spin up instances of web browsers inside a web page shell. Each session was private, secure and features were task-specific. After user research we explored and learned that people needed to test by browser, operating system, device and accessibility, and to share the results of those tests so that specific action could be taken.
Software Testing and Reporting features:
Ted was responsible for the user experience, from user research and architecture, to use cases and features, to visual UI design and front-end. I created the brand. I performed market research, co-wrote the business plan, developed value equations and subscription pricing models, established a marketing campaign and created the investor deck to gain funding. I presented to investors, including Adobe, Microsoft, and other major software makers.
MeerMeer was successfully sold to Adobe, and was released globally as part of Adobe Creative Suite, where it was renamed BrowserLab. The software was highly successful but was eventually sunsetted for wider business reasons.
Millions of people used MeerMeer / BrowserLab, where it helped improve the quality of the web, and increased the speed and efficiency in which websites were implemented and tested for all users.
The original meermeer visual/UX QA software included live recording with annotations. Above shows the wide range of browsers sorted by current market share (usage) across devices and operating systems. This is before Inspect and Chrome even existed!
Below is an example of the User Accessibility Tools, which included Text-to-Speech (TTS), Tritanope Color Blindness, Deuteranope Color Blindness, Protanope Color Blindness, Macular Degeneration Vision Impairment, Diabetic Retinopathy Vision Impairment, Cataract Vision Impairment, Glaucoma Vision Impairment, and W3C Test. espn.com is tested in 2-Up view combined with Decomparing Deuteranope Color Blindness, which reveals red alone is not an effective method to communicate active or visited links.