Invision Shutdown: 3 Business Lessons I have learned

Abhi Chatterjee
5 min readJan 29, 2024

--

URL — https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/invision-design-collaboration-services-shutdown/

Have you heard the news about Invision?

They recently announced their closure, marking the end of an era. Invision was once the go-to prototyping tool for UX and UI designers with a decade-long presence in the industry and an impressive $356 million in funding. Their downfall raises important questions: How did such a prominent player falter? Understanding these lessons isn’t just for designers; they’re crucial for anyone navigating the business world whether working with clients or contemplating entrepreneurship. Let’s explore what went wrong and the valuable insights we can glean from Invision’s journey.

Here are the three main lessons I’ve gleaned from Invision’s journey. I’ve delved into Clark’s public notes, the former CEO and co-founder of Invision to distill these insights.

1. Lack of Vision

The main reason Invision crumbled was its narrow vision or simply put a lack of foresight.

Clark highlighted that Invision’s success relied heavily on its function as a companion platform, starting with Photoshop and later with Sketch. During 2012 and 2013, when designers primarily utilized Photoshop or Sketch for UI design, Invision flourished as a prototyping tool that complemented these software programs.

In hindsight, Invision’s ability to amass investors, achieve substantial growth and establish itself as a leading prototyping tool was commendable. However, their failure to envision broader horizons and transcend their role as a mere companion tool became a significant impediment to continued innovation. Despite securing over $50 million in funding within the initial years and experiencing rapid growth, Invision remained comfortable within its prototyping niche.

The narrowness of their vision restricted them from exploring avenues for growth, evolving into a comprehensive design platform and addressing larger challenges. This limitation ultimately constrained their ability to innovate and adapt. Reflecting on this, whether as a business owner, consultant or stakeholder, it’s crucial to challenge oneself and others to think expansively. Are we limiting ourselves by focusing narrowly on current solutions? Is there potential for broader impact and growth by tackling larger problems? These questions serve as catalysts for exploring new opportunities and fortifying the resilience of any venture.

2. Innovation Stunting

The second critical lesson revolves around the stagnation of innovation within Invision.

Despite its initial allure as a user-friendly prototyping tool, there was a noticeable lack of progress in terms of product evolution. Even with a substantial funding injection of $356 million, much of which came in later stages, the period of 2013 to 2015 when they had already raised over $50 million witnessed minimal innovation.

As a former user, I admired Invision’s functionality and aesthetics, yet it remained primarily a prototyping tool without significant feature expansion. Clark mentioned they experimented with new ideas and even contemplated designing a new tool. However, they didn’t feel compelled to rush because Sketch, their primary ally, dominated the design tool landscape.

This complacency stemmed from their symbiotic relationship with Sketch and the perception that Sketch’s dominance rendered competition futile. This reluctance to challenge the status quo highlights a missed opportunity for Invision to diversify and innovate within the design tool market.

For designers and entrepreneurs alike, this lesson underscores the importance of maintaining an aggressive innovation mindset. While expertise in distribution, marketing and design is crucial, sustained innovation distinguishes long-term success. Businesses that continuously push boundaries and innovate beyond competitors position themselves for enduring relevance in dynamic markets.

3. Playing Catch-up

The third and final lesson underscores the consequence of a narrow vision and stagnant innovation: the perpetual game of catch-up.

While Invision initially thrived, their lack of foresight regarding the future direction of their business, beyond prototyping, hindered their progress. This became glaringly evident in 2018 when Figma emerged as a formidable contender in the design collaboration sphere, six years after Invision’s inception.

Figma’s innovative approach to live collaboration disrupted the market, swiftly gaining mainstream recognition. Additionally, Miro an established online whiteboarding tool, posed another significant challenge, having solidified its position over a decade of operation. In contrast, Invision found itself on the defensive, scrambling to compete with these well-entrenched rivals.

In 2018, Invision responded by heavily investing in Invision Studio, essentially mirroring Figma’s capabilities. However, the task of wresting market share from both Figma and Miro proved daunting. In a bid to keep pace, Invision launched Freehand in 2020, akin to Figma’s FigJam and Miro’s collaborative features.

Yet, despite Invision’s efforts, catching up proved futile. Figma and Miro had honed their products over years of development, while Invision found itself starting from scratch in these new domains. The disparity in experience and innovation rendered Invision’s attempts to seize market dominance untenable.

For businesses and entrepreneurs, this highlights the importance of anticipating market shifts and fostering a culture of continuous innovation. Playing catch-up in a rapidly evolving landscape often results in resource depletion and diminished competitive standing. As Figma and Miro’s successes demonstrate, sustained innovation and strategic foresight are indispensable for long-term viability in dynamic markets.

In conclusion, these three key lessons derived from Clark’s public note offer invaluable insights for designers and entrepreneurs alike. While it’s easy to analyze events in hindsight, it’s essential to dissect and understand the underlying dynamics of business challenges. These lessons are not just reflections on past events; they serve as crucial discussions that can empower designers in various capacities, whether they’re contemplating entrepreneurship or consulting with clients.

While mastering tools like Figma and designing UI systems are vital, engaging in meaningful conversations about strategic vision, innovation and market dynamics sets exceptional designers apart. By delving into these topics and learning from the experiences of businesses like Invision, designers can position themselves for success in an ever-evolving landscape. Ultimately, it’s the ability to glean lessons from past failures and apply them proactively that distinguishes exceptional designers and entrepreneurs.

If I’ve missed any useful tips, I’d appreciate your comments to discuss and add them to the list.

If you found this article helpful, attractive, useful and would like to support me, make sure to:

  • 👏 Clap for the story (50 claps) to help this article be featured
  • 🔔 Follow me on : Medium / LinkedIn

--

--

Abhi Chatterjee

UX Designer at Dubai Municipality specialised in User research & Interaction Design