During my 3 months experience at a Pittsburgh local startup, Expii, I worked closely with the CEO and three other designers to create a visual system that aligns with their vision and designed a cohesive user work flow for some parts of the website. Expii is a company that has a vision of creating a global community for all learners and guides and seek to maximize the educational potential of the internet. The design team and I looked closely into our current users to understand their role and background to create a user workflow pattern that can encourage all users to become more active.
Engaging more activities by providing users a starting point when they log in. --- * CTA for choosing a topic to explain * Top contributors for the website * Recent activities generated by other users
Providing a list of topics to edit to make the contribution process feel simple. --- * Categorized into different subjects * Showing the percentage of the completion * Organized in the order of least to most completed
Personalized user profile to build a stronger sense of identity and community --- * Adding your organizations to your profile * Inviting friends to expand the community * Record of personal activities
How do we engage users to become active memebers and encourage them to become contributors?
As the founding design team, 3 other designers and I established our goal to generate more activities and user engagements through improving the user experience of the brand new online community. We structured the flow of the website as a team, and then divided the site into different sections to dive deeper independently. My personal goal was to establish more engagement through personal profile, organization profile, homepage, and the flow for the users to make a contribution.
In order to understand the scope and the context of the project, I did a general background information research on the product. I conducted interviews and competitive analysis to find the following: Understanding the audience: 1. Our audience is divided into two groups which are the learners and the teachers. These people range from high school students to professionals. 2. Many of the current users mentioned that they appreciate the rankings of the contributors because they feel that it's rewarding. 3. Currently, there are more learners than contributors because the process of "writing a lesson" seems tedious. 4. Many of our users are international and mobile users. Understanding the space: 1. The competitive analysis showed that many communities have the forum system, which provides recent activities that were generated by other members. 2. Many of the larger-sized communities such as Wikipedia or Stack Overflow have the search function as their main CTA because their community runs on smaller contributions rather than drastic ones. 3. The smaller-sized communities such as Socratic focuses a lot on showing activity of the community.
Ideation & Iterations
Building a stronger community to generate more user activities.
Homepage: From the user flow pattern I analyzed from competitive analysis, I adopted the recent activities feature because it gives people more context about the site. This would also give people an entry point to the content, which is the main reason why users visit the website. I also provided a topic suggestion to guide people in order to introduce people to undiscovered items which would bring them to another set of content that could easily be missed otherwise. I also included the list of top contributors because that was a feature that the current users especially liked. It gives people incentives for contributing, and brings a sense of community.
Profile page: I decided that the main content of the profile should be the timeline that tracks a user’s activity, because but it personalizes their profile by keeping a record of their personal learnings, which may bring a sense of accomplishment. I also felt that being able to add your organization will give a sense of belonging and promote the webiste to the educational organizations in the real world. With the same idea, I felt that inviting your friends to use the website would be useful. This would also make you feel connected because your real-world friends could also become a part of the community with you.
Editing the user flow to encourage the contributors to improve the less-explored topics.
With the iterations I made, I got some feedback from the design team and made changes to the user flow and the composition of each page. During the ideation stage, I focused heavily on creating the accepting community environment and facilitating a sense of belonging through the features; however, the features could not encourage people to actively contribute yet. To target this, I changed the work flow of the site to accommodate contributors. I added a clear CTA to encourage users to contribute. This is under the recent activities feed so that it shows how their actions will directly affect the activities of the site.
Before, I had the topic suggestions below the recent activities feed in order to introduce the topics that are less explored. While this increases the amount of interactions for these topics, the learners will not find this useful because there won’t be enough content for people to learn from. So, I wondered: how could these less-explored topics be introduced only for the contributors? I decided that letting the contributors choose a topic to explain will solve this problem. This will not only show the users new topics, but also give them a more natural workflow to making a contribution because his will eliminate the need to search for a topic.
Exploring with font size and composition to optimize the user experience of mobile
Lastly, because our research showed that most of our users access our site through mobile, responsive design was a critical goal. We have considered designing an app as the solution, but Expii is a web-based community, and it’s still trying to establish its presence on the web. We have decided that creating an app would be a long-term reach goal.
Design, ship, repeat.
This was my first experience at a startup company. Working here for taught me a lot because it taught me how to work at an extremely fast-paced, multitask, and work based on both intuition and research. I learned how to grasp problems and tackle them in the most efficient manner. Because the designers did not have the time to create a hi-fidelity prototype, we worked extremely close with the engineers to implement our designs and changes as we went. This was a valuable experience for me because it really felt like a 4 months extreme design challenge.