This project was the conclusion of my User Experience Design Immersive course at General Assembly. This is not a concept project. In an agile way, Richard Picot, Franchesca Mutuc and I had to act as a team of UX consultant for TechHub.
TechHub is a global community for tech entrepreneurs and startups. They are offering collaborative working spaces in eight different cities around the world including London. The fact they only accept tech entrepreneurs, developers and startups means that their members are surrounded by like minded people with a various panel of skills. In other words, member can find help on their project no further than the next desk.
One of Techhub major USP is also its events. They have members and non members' events. Their members' events help startups and entrepreneurs to achieve the next level in their projects. These include events like VC coffees, presentation training, Tax & Funding Office Hour, etc. The non-members events are open to anyone interested, they include their famous Tuesday Demo Night where startups have an opportunity to demo their product. TechHub of the rare few in the competitive landscape to throw free events accessible to non members. This gives to existing member access to the wider community.
In summary, TechHub’s community USPs are its exclusivity, its relevancy and their free events.
Although TechHub's offering is excellent this was not clearly displayed on their website. The lack of clear communication about TechHub’s offering paired with a confusing navigation makes it hard for users to access the information they need to understand what TechHub is. For those that decide to apply, the lack of clarity extends through the apply process. This causes frustration and confusion for users at multiple stages of their research.
We were asked to redesign the Homepage, Apply & Events page, with the goal to increase relevant applicants and drive users to TechHub events. We quickly realised that the key of our design will be the quick and intuitive access to the information.
By redesigning TechHub’s website information architecture and its home page, events page, and application process, we aimed to reduce user’s frustration and confusion. Information on TechHub’s website should be easily accessible and clearer to users.
We started our research process by mapping out TechHub’s competitive landscape. Because their offering is so broad we had to consider competitors in various industries such as, coworking space, education, incubators & accelerators, events platforms and members clubs.
However, we also focus our attention on TechHub’s most direct competition, coworking spaces.
As I said before during our research we
Clear prices and membership information accessible from the home page.
Clear mission statement and understanding of the offering, also accessible from the home page.
You can see that TechHub has room for improvement on these points.
We discovered that 76% of respondents use meet ups as a support network. It shows the importance of community and ability to discuss and bounce up ideas to people working on a tech product or idea.
Moreover, of those not already using a space to work from 96% would use one. Their working environment is important to people. Users are looking for places and people. Two things that TechHub offers.
Actually, when we asked: “What was important to you in a place to work?” top factors were:
- LIKE MINDED PEOPLE
- PEOPLE WITH VARIED SKILLS
- FRIENDLY STAFF
These are All things that TechHub exclusively offers and some over the competition! The problem is that this is almost invisible from the current home page and so users missed it.
Usability Testing and Interviews
We conducted a series of usability testing on TechHub’s current website. The task was “On the home page find information on what TechHub could offer you?” Most of the users were unable from the home page to say what TechHub was doing. Some of them even thought that they were “some kind of sports broadcasting thing”, or a service“like Uber.” If users were unsure about the offering they could not consider applying or attending an event. These usability testing also helped us to identify what users did find useful in the current website, such as the prominent display of partners.
We also conducted interviews of members and non-members through our research process. From those, we were able to confirm the survey results and our assumption on what users are looking for in a collaborative community. Thanks to the interviews we were also able to have a better understanding of who are TechHub’s users and what is their train of thoughts when looking for a place to work. The UX process to map out their journey is called a Task Analysis. We later collated all these task analyses and it helped us create a user flow and a user journey, but before we dived deeper into this we had to create our personas.
Personas are a representation of a company user base. They allowed us to put a face on the insights from the interviews. This helped guide our decisions through the design process on specific users needs.
We then collated all the information we gathered about TechHubs’ current and potential users and categorised everything. This helped us form four personas that are a representation of all TechHub’s users.
Tim is actually our primary persona because his personality and his project really fits TechHub’s culture. Additionally, his needs and goals overlap with some of the others, so by solving his problems we will also cater for Lara, Alec and David.
Tim is 28 and lives in Limehouse with his partner. He studied for an MSc in International Management at Kings College London. After his degree he secured a job at international consulting firm KPMG. He worked there for a few years before deciding he wanted a change.
Tim came up with his startup idea for a new business centric social platform whilst at KPMG. As soon as he started exploring the idea his determination of making the idea a success grew. He soon realised he would have to commit to his idea full time to achieve his goal of being behind the next big thing. He handed in his notice and started working from home. However, he has found it hard to stay motivated outside of the office environment. He is looking for a place to work from that will give him the familiarity of working from a desk each day, but at a price he can afford at this early stage of his venture. He has tried working from Google Campus but found it too noisy and lacked a permanent desk.
He is pretty tech savvy, but is unfamiliar with the challenges of running a business. Tim knows that the only way to succeed with this new venture is to be around the right people. He is looking to meet a developer to start working on his platform but is also seeking advice on how to approach the right venture capitalists for his idea.
He wants to feel looked after and would like the opportunity to network with people that could potentially take his idea to the next step.
The graphic above shows Tim’s emotional journey through the currentTechHub.com
- He lands on the homepage excited about TechHub
- However, he is having trouble finding out what sets them apart and can’t find membership or pricing options, which frustrates him.
- He goes on to try and book a place for a free event. He spots an event that he is interested in but soon discovers that it is for members only.
- After a little more time looking for non-member events he finds Demo Tuesday and books a space.
- He goes to Demo Tuesday and gets a sense of community as well as feedback on his idea.
- At home, he goes back to TechHub.com and decides to apply. He finds the process confusing.
From that point we had all the research necessary to start designing.
We conducted a design studio with TechHub’s stakeholder including the CEO and COO. The goal of a design studio is to generate a lot of ideas in a short time frame thanks to time boxed sketching exercise. Our focus of the day was the home page design. The day was really productive and marked the started of our design phase.
By the second round of sketching everyone agreed that our focus should be on delivering a clearer message about TechHub’s offering to the users as soon as possible.
After the design studio, we collated everyone's sketches and that created our first home page design. On the same day we designed the first version of the events pages and the application process. We had our first prototype ready for the Monday to start our design sprint.
We tested right away and had some really interesting feedback, especially on the home page.
I am going to walk you through a few iterations on the home page.
One of the key ideas of the Design studio was to have a Global home page. So the initial design consisted in a global home page and a Local one with slight differences in flow and a localised content in the later one.
However, having the repeated information across two pages in different flows caused confusion and it broke the natural progression through the site. User saw the global HP as another obstacle to reach the information they were after.
Our solution was to completely redefine the purpose of the global page. We designed a landing page that allows users to choose a location and then be presented with the relevant content.
The benefit was that we were still able to showcase the global aspect of TH, while also allowing users to access relevant localised content quicker.
We still needed a home page. In our initial design we expected users to get to apply and events from sections further down the home page, or by the navigation. However, we quickly realised the importance of sticking with some kind of convention, because users were unable to find our navigation. Moving it at the top also meant that returning users had all the options that they needed accessible without having to scroll.
Users responded well to our initial content flow so we have decided to implement a similar flow in the new localised home page.
This prototype map-out our key user journey, Tim’s journey. It isn’t a real website so not everything is clickable. If you click on something that is not clickable you will see appear a blue box around links where you can click.
With this prototype you can:
- Find out what is TechHub and who is it for from the home page.
- Register for a Demo Tuesday event.
- Apply for a resident membership.
Click here to play with it.
The Problem: Lack of Clarity
Information about TechHub’s offering was not accessible, in an intuitive way to users. Through usability testing, we found that most of people couldn’t tell what TechHub offers, from the home page. The competition however is clearly defining its USPs from the get go on their website.
Our redesign focused on information accessibility as we found through our research that this was the missing element that would drive relevant applications and event attendance. We aimed to design a flow for the website that would follow users’ journey and train of thought.
To further improve our redesign there a few things we would like to explore further.
Firstly, there is an opportunity to better cater for members, like Tim. Our redesign’s clarity of offering is useful for unfamiliar users. This is less important to those that are already members.
Implementing a members’ portal to showcase more relevant information for them would further improve the user experience.
Secondly, based on user feedback, if someone books a tour of TechHub the application process could be streamlined by auto populating content TH already know about them.
Finally, it would be good to showcase better how companies grew within TechHub through case studies.