I worked on improving MyPlace’s user experience of creating, joining, and engaging with groups on their web application, in collaboration with a fellow Designer during our UX/UI bootcamp at Memorisely.
A homesharing social network that connects friends who are looking to share their homes with people they trust, revolutionizing the way we travel.
MyPlace, a real product with a web app, encourages building a community of like-minded travelers across the globe.
As a new homesharing and social networking platform in beta, MyPlace wants to ultimately grow their community and scale their rising business. In response, they recently launched a new group feature online. However, users aren’t able to create their own groups and only could do so by contacting admins directly. In addition, the current dashboard and actual page that hosts groups are bare bones and not fully fleshed out. This results in users not being able to fully understand or even use the new feature effectively.
The idea of ‘Groups’ on MyPlace is that we all have different groups of friends and communities in the real world, such as social circles, family units, or professional networks. MyPlace wants to enable users to recreate or join the groups that are relevant to them and who they want to share their home with.
The goal of this project is to redesign the current MyPlace group experience, thus helping to increase user reach and engagement on the platform.
After logging in new users to MyPlace don’t understand what Groups are and how to use them. They don’t feel safe sharing their homes without building trust with others. They also currently cannot create their own groups, nor form deeper connections with group members, such as sharing common values and networks, providing support, or meeting together.
This is important because without an optimized group experience, this prevents MyPlace from growing their community and scaling the business.
How might we provide a smooth group creation experience?
We had a 4 week turnaround which presented a tight timeline, along with no budget.
With this, in order to keep us on track, I created a project schedule with tasks using Asana of all major milestones and phases.
We had access to MyPlace’s brand guidelines in Figma, however it was bare bones and limited in styles.
Given no budget, we had to be resourceful in the tools and methods used.
We did not have visibility of the following key information from stakeholders:
We made the following assumptions to help move our project forward:
We kicked off the project by identifying main user stories to not only empathize with the user, but also to help us stay focused during our usability audit and competitor benchmarking.
Kristin created a variety of user stories. I determined the top 3 user stories by identifying which ones best helped solve the main problem first identified by the MyPlace team: creating a smoother group experience for new users.
The main points found were:
I combined all of the user stories into one cohesive story:
To help me better understand the product, I conducted a usability audit to identify pain points and wow moments in the existing experience. My partner and I each did a full sweep of the current group experience.
Key Frustrations and Takeaways
Following a usability review, we defined the main frustrations and takeaways in key areas of the product. This helped us later in identifying and narrowing our focus in the initial problem space.
After reviewing the current product, we moved into competitor benchmarking to identify key patterns across direct and indirect competitors.
As we conducted this, unfortunately time constraints came up. We had to prioritize covering one direct and indirect competitor. We also understood we could come back and add to the competitor analysis if necessary in later parts of our project.
Kristin did a direct competitor and I focused on indirect. Afterwards she found out that MyPlace was still very new in the Homesharing industry and had less direct competitors. So, we decided to analyze more deeply an indirect competitor instead.
Also given the topic of Social Groups, indirect competitors made more sense here. I decided to focus on analyzing Facebook because they are such a leading industry giant for social networking of Older Millennials. I used our main user story to help me narrow down which areas of the platform to focus on.
Key Takeaways and Patterns
After conducting a usability review and competitor analysis, the findings helped us tremendously in forming our initial problem statement before heading into user research. The problem statement acts as a critical foundation as we navigate through the project.
A Holistic Breakdown
We first broke down the problem space into: who, what, where, when, and why.
This helped us to understand holistically from all angles what key areas affected the problem space.
Initial Problem Statement
After creating an account new users to Myplace are not provided guidance and education on what groups are and how to use them. If they did want to use the feature they currently cannot create their own groups. These features will help Myplace grow the community and scale the business.
We chose User Interviews as our main research method because it was important for us to fully understand what motivates users to engage with Groups overall. This method would provide richer insights and data, and ultimately drive more informed design decisions later on.
Before conducting research, having a plan in place was important to set the tone and direction clearly. I created the template and we compiled the business questions, hypothesis, purpose statement, set of main research questions, deliverables, and timeline.
If we were able to connect with Stakeholders, we would've actively discussed and collaborated with them on this document, to ensure we’re on the same page and what they want answered, before setting out research.
In order to recruit users, I led the creation of an online survey form. This helped us with keeping track of candidates, outreach, and if they were the right fit for our study.
We ended up finalizing 4 interviews, and split them between us by conducting 2 interviews each, with these demographics:
I suggested we format the guide into key sections, so that it helps form our questions better and keeps us focused during the actual interviews.
As we conducted interviews, I noticed some interview questions were leading to redundant information and not leading to more rich insights. So I decided mid-interviews - to meet back with my partner and discuss how we could refine the questions, which ultimately led us to gather in later interviews more insightful feedback.
During one of Kristin's interviews, she encountered a participant who felt strongly about privacy and safety concerns around homesharing. This took us off guard. However, it turned out to help our research even further - to see the opposite end of the spectrum, and to keep our bias in check. We added these new insights to our additional bonus findings.
Initially we started to create an affinity map by organizing the groups all within the same tags. However, it became very challenging to understand what each meant without any context behind each tag.
So in order to gain more context and clarity, we decided to pivot. It’d be more helpful to affinity map all the tags by using our interview questions from our discussion guide, as a base structure/outline.
We grouped them into these 3 key areas: homesharing, groups, and connection. From here, it was easier to pull common themes out and formulate them into key research insights.
“Because we have similar interests, I can have enough trust to host this person.” - P1
“Your environment can be part of your community…a group of beings that kind of come together over a shared commonality and trust.” - P2
“I can connect with anybody from anywhere in the world, and I can message them and connect with them, and engage in a conversation.” - P1
“Recently I deleted a bunch of dead WhatsApp groups and I left multiple Facebook groups only because there were so many posts coming through, and I could not keep up with them. It’s kind of why I never interact with them. Why am I here?” - P3
We mapped out the existing information architecture of the group experience flow to understand fully gaps and opportunities for optimization.
Groups are difficult to find and need more visibility / hierarchy on the MyPlace Platform.
After we conducted research and analysis expanded, it helped as a tool to refine and iterate on our problem statement. It helped to define the path to an MVP, seeing the problem space as an iterative process.
Initially our problem statement focused on just group education, however after research, it now involved so much more - based on shared values, trust/safety, and connection.
Annotating to show connections in UX process
We incorporated these main strong themes from our research into the problem space, and refined our problem statement. To further show where these points came from, I annotated each to show which part of our UX process they came from.
New Problem Statement - V2
After logging in new users to MyPlace don’t understand what Groups are and how to use them. They don’t feel safe sharing their homes without building trust with others first. They currently cannot create their own groups, nor form deeper connections with group members, such as sharing common values and networks, providing support, or meeting together.
This is important because the Group experience will help MyPlace grow the community and scale the business.
At this phase, we created ‘How Might We’ (HMW) statements to help generate ideas of solving our core problem.
In order to holistically pull from the initial discovery and research phases of our project up until this point, we created high-level HMW’s based from findings in these three key areas:
Initial problem statement and usability review
Existing information architecture review
Key research insights
We decided as an exercise for Kristin and I to create separate mind maps first, and then come together after in a brainstorm discussion. This helped to bring together more rich ideas and solutions to the table.
From my mindmap, I pulled from all areas of our design thinking process, to help me formulate the best effective ideas and drive design decisions:
With all of our ideas in front of us we began to prioritize what to include in the MVP, keeping the business goals and our research insights top of mind.
Following Ideation, we created user flows of the existing experience and improved the flow based on our proposed ideas. The user goals we focused on were:
With our improved user flows mapped out we moved on to defining the IA of our target areas, the group dashboard, group detail page, and member profile. We drilled down by page and section, but not all components were defined as of yet so we didn’t dive too deeply into all of them at this time.
In order to help us stay focused, we referenced back to our problem statement (if these features helped solve the core problem), as well as our research insights.
Two main pages we focused on for the MVP were: group dashboard and the group detail page. Our reasoning was because these were the main blockers of a user to engage with and create groups in the first place.
We created the UI styles in Figma referencing the brand guidelines that MyPlace provided. Having these styles set up, made it much easier to create the components and ensure all had the correct color, type, shadows, and grid applied to them as necessary.
After we sketched our lo-fi wireframes, this helped us to determine which components to create. We annotated which components were most important, and organized them by using the atomic system principles: atoms, molecules, and organisms.
Both flows feature the same pages and decisions, but different experiences for the user depending on where they are in their MyPlace journey.
The original group detail page lacked in visual hierarchy, page layout and organization, and did not provide any functionality for group members to connect with one another.
With the new design, we integrated features from our user research, such as the sharing post module - which calls back to the finding of how groups preferred to bond over shared interests and goals.
With the previous group dashboard, it had very limited functionality with only access to viewing their current groups, but no way of creating or managing one. You were able to discover groups, but it lacked visual hierarchy and context to help a user decide better which group is right for them.
The new design featured a tab menu with each section helping to achieve a user's primary goals of managing, discovering and creating their groups.
People are built for connection and seek it in many forms. This was our guiding light during the entire project. Every decision we made was run through the filter of our research, often times quotes from our interview participants running through our minds.
We’d like to put more effort in further exploring and flushing out designs for these areas for future design sprints: