Wade Meredith
A designer who can code in Kansas City. Building stuff for humans since 2006.

Fireworks CRM

Fireworks® was to disrupt the status quo and bring real innovation to the admissions market with the first-ever admissions CRM to provide users with a consumer-like experience. And it does just that.

Fireworks CRM Promotional Image

Fireworks CRM

Product Type
Enterprise SaaS: Higher Education CRM Solution

Interaction Design (3 years) then promoted to Director of User Experience (3 years)

I was hired in 2013 as an Interaction Designer exclusively for this new product. As a jack-of-all-trades able to speak effectively to diverse parties, I quickly ended up leading the UX team and reporting to the CEO as the Director of User Experience.


Build an all new hosted CRM (contact relationship management) product for the higher education admissions market. Fire Engine RED saw an opportunity in the market to subvert traditional enterprise software perceptions and provide a consumer-like user experience as a competitive advantage; happy admissions office workers are productive office workers. 

Fireworks was a unique challenge due to the nature of admissions CRM software. Even an MVP would have to support a wide variety of functionality, including:

  • Accessibility compliance with the education market largely supported by public funding

  • Hundreds of data points per contact, including personal identifiers

  • Customizable user permissions system able to support the needs of a Dean of Admissions as well as an intern

  • Flexible record import and export capabilities

  • Email and sms text marketing campaign management tools

  • Robust contact database search and demographic filtering

  • Performance reporting capabilities

Feature Flowchart - SaaS User Authentication.png
Scheduler Module Wireframe.png

Fireworks was built by a large multidisciplinary team over several years, but I was the front-end lead on development and design. A simplified version of my team's process looked like this:

  1. Break down requirements into user-flows

  2. Group user-flows by functionality into system modules. (Defines global navigation and high level interaction metaphors)

  3. Create wireframes/rapid prototypes focusing on consistency and repeatable interactions between modules. (Allows for user mastery of any single module in the system to be portable–flattens the learning curve. Also primes front-end development for DRY coding practices)

  4. Build visual and copy style guides around wireframes and company branding guidelines

  5. Gather feedback and update generated assets/create new assets as required

  6. Break user-flows down into end-to-end experiences that fit into a release cycle

  7. Break wireframes down into end-to-end experiences that fit into a release cycle

  8. Build

  9. Test/fix

  10. Release

  11. Return to step 5; repeat for 100 sprints

Promotional video by Fire Engine RED for Fireworks

Fireworks launched in 2015 and has seen double digit year-over-year ever since.

All in all the Fireworks CRM consists of dozens (and dozens) of user flows grouped together into functional modules, any one of which could be considered its own product. These range from a business intelligence reporting suite, to an extremely robust contact and relational contact management database, to an sms text campaign manager. Despite these challenges, the executed vision of a consumer-like user experience continues to draw literal “ooohs, and aaahs” in demos and remains a differentiator for Fire Engine RED in the market.

Sales projections continue to be adjusted further up and to the right as recently as spring 2019.