Designing an Event Platform

Background

I worked with a team of 6 Designers to create an educational community marketplace via an event-planning platform that gives individuals with desirable skills or knowledge the ability to organize their own local events. 

Changing educational and technological landscapes have enabled curious learners to seek educational opportunities from everyday people who possess unique knowledge or skills. This has afforded people the ability to monetize their expertise, which they’ve capitalized on by hosting online courses about any and every topic under the sun.

The Challenges

  • This was intended to be a two-sided platform to serve both attendees and event hosts/organizers; we were only tasked with focusing on the host/organizer side which was an additional constraint.

  • The ask was to build a platform that includes event creation, event support, event marketing, venue coordination, and attendee-focused customer service. All these "must-haves" made it difficult to focus on the right problems and solutions to properly scope the project. 

  • The team had to work within a Waterfall Flow per the client's request. The team and I had no interactions or conversations with the development team and had no say in implementation so we did not get their feedback or input.

The Solution

As a team, we prioritized building the most important capabilities and features first with an "All in one" solution and would then recommend proceeding to more complex elements once we had the fundamental experience set up. Additionally, we utilized an Agile UX process and methodology with short sprints and feedback loops from the client and their product team.

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Community-Dashboard
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Reports-Dashboard

My Role

In a team of 6, I took on the role of UX Researcher, focusing on understanding consumer motivation and behaviors to further strategic decisions.

  • Conducted Discovery Research by creating an Exploratory Report and Research Plan Report.
  • Led Initial User Recruiting and Interviews.
  • Data Analysis - Extracted insights about user behaviors, then analyzed and presented on findings.
  • Identified user goals, needs, and pain points to Define target audience and problems.
  • Created Journey Maps and Site Maps
  • Evaluated ideas and concepts with sketches and low-fidelity wireframes.
  • Assisted with the converged design prototype, annotations, and gathering requirements for handoff to development.
  • Participated in Usability Testing to test goals and continue to validate the research.
  • Led and organized weekly workshops, meetings, presentations with the client and team.

The Approach

Empathize & Research

Define the Problem

Ideation & Concepting

Usability  Testing

Empathize & Research

First, we wanted to understand the competitive landscape and the current market to see how other companies and platforms have approached this space.

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So if you want to share your skills and host events, you basically have two types of platforms that can help you.

  1. Some focus primarily on In-person learning and events.
  2. The second way is through online course creation - which means serving up pre-recorded content to share.

We dove deep into exploring both options to find what’s working as well as identify any gaps or opportunities in the market.

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research-insights

Opinions and views from Users were the next steps to drive our research forward. We gained the perspective of Entrepreneurs and Hobbyists who attended or hosted events. 

The team conducted 11 interviews and had 24 survey responses.

Their feedback showed a range of experiences, pain points, and overall needs of our target demographic which gave us more substance that validated the directions we could take.

The best insights we discovered were the ones that overlapped from multiple parts of our research phase. 

Given that criteria, here are the top insights from all of our research:

  • Research verified the need for an all-in-one platform, sometimes 7 or more tools are used, none is a perfect solution.
  • Prioritizing desktop design. There’s a lot of information to manage, and users stated they preferred a desktop over mobile, first.
  • Two Target users:
    1. Teach or Share as a business  - Entrepreneurs
    2. "For Fun" Event hosts. - Hobby & Leisure Users
  • Issues with finding and booking Venues. It can be a difficult and time-consuming process. No current tools are serving this need adequately.
  • Users are overwhelmed with so many marketing tools, none are integrated.
  • And finally, the research shows the importance of hosts wanting to foster relationships with their attendees to build a community around their shared interests. 
more-reserachinsights
more-reserach-insights

Define the Problem

From the research, we were able to really start to fine-tune user motivations. So we started to create what the main problem or focus was.

the-problem

We even created a Persona, Tiffany, to embody some of the characteristics we wanted to keep in mind as we move forward with addressing solutions. 

meet-tiffany

Ideas and Concepting

After many workshops and meetings, our large team of 6 couldn't decide on the scope or direction. We each individually wireframed a concept and then pitched the theme to see if there were patterns and outliers that could be out of scope.

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b
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I came up with Concept E!
From the research, I saw that Users were really wanting and needing simplification. My Concept focused on simplifying the overall process for hosts to organize their events. Users use multiple tools to plan their events. This is either a manual process or a process that is inclusive of using 10 different tools.
Value Proposition: “Give users the Confidence / Empower Users to plan their events, their way, with ease.”

Scope & Evaluation Matrix

evlauting-ideas-and-concepts

Two things happened. 

  1. Through this process, we realized we needed to redo the original problem statement.
  2. And thank goodness for Prioritization Matrix, as we were able to take 15-20 ideas and get it to 5 by assessing and analyzing what would be the most impactful to the user and business.
converged-concept

Usability Testing & Results

usability-test

Now we can test One cohesive concept.

The aim of the Usability Test was to get a pulse check if we were creating a suitable solution to our user’s problems.

Are we creating the same patterns and experiences as other platforms or are we making improvements?

We tested with 7 users of whom 5 have teaching and hosting experience. 

what-we-found-more
what-we-found

We were so happy with the Positive Feedback!

But we noticed that whilst users would complete the tasks, the number of errors increased as they moved further into the task flow.

This indicates that although users enjoyed and understood many functions within the application, more refinements and further research would need to be done to problem solve those high error sections.

 

 

View Walkthrough

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I bring back Tiffany, to highlight how this project was successful.

We met the needs of potential Users like Tiffany and the needs of our client.

Our client wanted us to prove them wrong and then develop a concept with our findings. And we did just that. To be competitive in this space especially during shifts in the economy and world events consumers want flexible options and simplicity. The stakeholder had an idea that would have ended up with the creation of another fragmented platform instead of really solving the problem or at least attacking it.

what-was-accompished
future-recs

For the future, we recommend exploring these three areas, which are ranked in order of importance. 

  1. Further customization. Users were juggling 5 to 7 different tools and their process of creating an event was very fragmented and disjointed.  And still, with our solution, there are areas of opportunity to provide more customization.
  2. Dive deeper into how best to cultivate a sense of community and how beneficial it really would be to hosts in terms of scaling their business. 
  3. Explore how to provide hosts with better methods for analytics and post-event statistics. Could that help them scale their business?

A Retrospective

Large UX Team

I worked in a team of 6 designers all with varying levels of experience and responsibilities. I took on the UX Researcher role but others wanted full control and say at all times which prolonged phases of work. Also, the team struggled to make decisions so that we had to refine the problem statement further to scope down the must-haves of this iteration.

Lesson to be learned: there can be too many chefs in the kitchen.

Be diplomatic and respectful.

Speak up and Defend your views.

Be ready to collaborate and move forward.

And finally, remember you are not the user. We all need to step out of our boxes and prioritize the needs and wants for who we create for so we can delegate what is feasible for us to provide for them.

Inconsisitent Project Management

The project had multiple project managers each with a different style. This also contributed to the team not being able to problem-solve quickly. The project manager would either be too lax and let extreme personalities take over or others were really unorganized.

Issues scoping the project to satisfy the client.

The client didn't set many parameters or constraints for this project. We had the gigantic task of trying to scope and plan out the research, source relevant participants for interviews and testing as well as decide if creating low fidelity wireframes with a mockup would be the best strategy to show an outcome, to have something tangible.

Copyright

© 2020 Sandie Starr

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