For our second project, we worked in groups to integrate a new feature into a company’s already existing app. My group was assigned to the company Meetup, who’s goal is to help connect people with shared interests, and to give them the ability to organize meetups to meet each other in real life. For our project, we were given the following task:
“Meetup would like to provide a first-class means to increase the ability of event organizers and venue hosts to find one another and find a space for their meetups through its mobile app.”
Currently, Meetup’s app gives people the ability to organize meetups, but it does not provide those who organize the meetups an easy and efficient means of locating and booking venue spaces.
For our app, we set out with the goal of expanding Meetup’s capabilities to include a feature for event organizers to find venue spaces directly through the app, for streamlined communication between event organizers and venue hosts, and for event organizers and venue hosts to identify one another based on shared interests and needs.
Screener and User Interviews
Before beginning our redesign process, we began learning more about Meetup’s target audience. For this project, we were interested in talking to people who had ever organized an event, and to people who were responsible for managing or renting out venue spaces. To make sure we interviewed the right people, we deployed a screener survey to filter our research participant pool and recruit the right people for our project.
From our screener survey, we found 7 people to interview; 4 event organizers and 3 venue hosts. For our event organizers, we interviewed them about the types of events they organize, what their main frustrations were while event planning, and how they find and decide on venue spaces to hold their events in. For our venue hosts, we interviewed them about the types of events they’ve hosted at their venue, how they get the word about about their venue space, how they communicate with event organizers during the planning process, and what their main frustrations are with the process. These interviews enabled us to truly start to get to know our users, and to make sure our app feature integration would be able to help the people it set out to.
After collecting information about our users, we began the process of synthesizing our data through affinity mapping. We went through all of our interviews and identified the main insights, pain points, wishes, and themes from each individual, and then organized these findings into groupings to identify the biggest patterns and concerns.
Through affinity mapping, we were able to gather that main focus for both event organizers and venue hosts was connecting and communicating. From both sides, it was clear that both event organizers and venue hosts were having a lot of trouble initially finding and connecting with one another. Once connecting, they often had a hard time communicating, and important details about the events frequently fell through the cracks. This process of organizing our data enabled us to craft two personas, one encompassing the typical event organizer and one the typical venue host, who would help to shape the rest of our design process.
Personas are a key part of the design process- they are archetypical characters that embody the most common traits of the users, and are used as a way to remind ourselves, as designers, who the user is, and who we should be designing for.
Our first persona, Quinn, was a 28-year-old graphic designer. She embodied our event organizer.
“Quinn organizes both social and professional events, and she is always on the hunt for cool venues. She primarily uses google to find venues, but making call after call to find the right space with the right amenities can be exhausting. She wishes there was an easier way to find event spaces based off of her varying needs.”
Our second persona, Ben, was a 32 year old manager at a tech company. He embodied our venue host.
“Ben is organized, resourceful, and outgoing. He enjoys finding bright and innovative event organizers to host at his space. He promotes his venues by word of mouth and internet listings, but wishes he could find a better method. He knows it’s essential to connect with event organizers, and stay in constant communication in order to focus important event details.”
Redefine the problem statement
Before beginning our design process, we evaluated all we had learned in our discovery and research phases, and redefined our problem statement to be more focused on the core problem we were trying to solve.
Ben and Quinn are a match made in heaven, but they just don’t know it yet.
Quinn has a super fun event planned, but has no idea where to hold it. She’s spent the entire afternoon contacting venues to find out the spaces she’s interested in are already booked or cannot accommodate her needs.
Meanwhile, Ben is also having a challenging afternoon, stuck in his office, desperately trying to find event organizers who are looking for venues like his. He loves his job but reaching out to potential customers and staying in contact with them can often make his job difficult.
How might we add select features to Meetup’s platform that connect Ben and Quinn and provide them a service for streamlined communications?
Discovery, check. Define, check. Now it was time to jump into the develop phase.
For our first part of the design process, we completed 4 rounds of design studio. Design studio is a method of focusing design around specific problems, and rapidly generating as many ideas as possible. In each round, we fleshed out a ton of ideas for our feature integration. We decided to create two user flows, one for the event organizer and one for the venue host, and came up with the basis for our connection and communication processes.
After completing our rounds of design studio, we used the MoSCoW method to prioritize the features would be essential in our app.
MoSCoW stands for “Must Have” “Should Have” “Could Have” and “Won’t Have”, and enables teams to distinguish what features of an app are a priority, and what features of an app are just a nice added bonus. To the left is how we decided to organize our MoSCoW chart.
After determining what features to integrate, and what to prioritize in our first round of testing, we created our first set of mid-fi wireframes.
Usability Testing Round 1
In our first round of testing, we wanted to make sure users could perform the main functions of our app. For our event organizers, we had them 1) Find a venue located near them 2) Look at the profile page of a venue host and 3) Filter through venue options and book a venue. For our venue hosts, we had them 1) Answer a request about booking a venue, 2) Favorite an event organizer, and 3) Send an event organizer a 5 day alert about an event coming up. Through this round of usability testing, we found that:
- Users wanted more communication abilities
- Users needed to experience the booking feature
To address these issues, we added messenger pages to show communication and added a booking request flow within messages to our second iteration.
Usability Testing Round 2
In our second round of usability testing we adjusted the tasks slightly. For our event organizers, we had them 1) Contact and message the host of a venue and 2) Check their notifications to see if their venue request had been approved. For our venue hosts, had them 1) Find and respond to a message from an event organizer, 2) Favorite an event organizer, and 3) Find and contact a event organizer with similar interests. Through this round of usability testing, we found that:
- Users wanted a clearer indication that their venue booking request was approved
- Users wanted communication and copy clarity
- Users requested more confirmation messaging
To address this issues, we added an approved state to messaging and a task completion confirmations to our third iteration.
Usability Testing Round 3
In our last round of usability testing, we brought our app from mid-fi to hi-fi.
In this round, we had our event organizers 1) Start a new meetup, 2) Put in a booking request, 3) Check their notifications and 4) See if their booking request was approved. For our venue hosts, we had them 1) Add a venue to their profile page, 2) Find and respond to a booking request, 3) Favorite an organizer to be notified when they post events, and 4) Contact an event organizer about hosting one of their events. Through this round, we found that:
- Many users wished there were a calendar features.
- Users wanted the alert statuses to be clearer.
After this round of usability testing, we took all the insights we gathered and developed our final prototype.
In our final prototype, we incorporated all insights from usability testing, added images, styled according to Meetup’s current platform, ensured all flows were completed, and that navigation of the app was improved. Below is a sample of the communication flow between event organizer (left) and venue host (right).
Next Steps and Final Thoughts
This project has really solidified the UX process for me. I have a much greater understanding of each step of the process, and of how important it is that each step is done. Additionally, I feel so lucky to have been able to work as part of a team. I was able to learn so much from each member of my group, and we were able to accomplish so much more together than we would have been able to on our own.
Moving forward, I hope to keep building upon what I have learned so far. This course has been an incredible learning experience in just the first three weeks. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next seven.