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Common Agency 2023

Neighborhood Networking Site Redesign

Role

I was the main coordinator leading this project from start to finish by organizing and delegating tasks, acting as main point of contact for the client and stakeholders, and supporting the user research and product design process. I worked on a team of two additional UX designers.

Timeline

12 day Sprint | January 2023

Tools

Figma | Canva | Xtensio | Otter.Ai | Google Suite | 

THE NEIGHBORHOOD NETWORK

When wanting to make a connection with a neighbor, Common Agency's Neighborhood users receive a question of the week via email or text, designed to facilitate fun conversations. Users' responses are displayed on their web-based platform for other members to see.

They're currently operating two small-scale pilots in Metuchen, New Jersey and Eastcore Holland, Michigan.

The current features on the website fail to provide users with an easy and interactive way to engage online which hinders the organization's mission of matching local residents to form a meaningful connection.

The redesign of the Neighborhood Network's onboarding process and overall interface serves to better match users and provide a more enjoyable experience of engaging with other members. This initiative allows Common Agency to build on its current method of connecting users as well as allowing its members to have some control to initiate interaction in ways that feel familiar.

DESIGN PROCESS

PROBLEM

Do you know your neighbor?

The client approached our team with the need to discover how the site's usability and overall user experience could be improved. She observed an overall low adoption and engagement rate on the platform, and proposed for our product team to find a solution of an additional feature or a way to revamp the website.

GOALS

USERS
Discover and connect with neighbors
BUSINESS
Increase engagement and retention of members
PRODUCT
Improvements in the onboarding process and the site's overall user experience

SOLUTION

An interactive space is key

ONBOARDING

Integrating the onboarding process into the website

  • Follow an invite link which directs them to the logged out state of the website

  • Inputting a street address of an affiliated neighborhood adds a safety measure to prevent bots or deter visitors with ill intent

  • Required fields ensure that all user profiles are made personal

Onboarding.gif

BULLETIN BOARD

Gives users a space to discover activities within their neighborhood and ways to engage with their neighbors

  • Create posts within categories set by the admin

  • Interact such as pinning, liking, and responding to posts

QUESTIONS & QUESTS

To ensure a safe and friendly environment, all posts and responses will need admin/steward approval before being published on the website​

  • React to question and quest responses with the emojis provided

  • Respond to questions and quests directly from the website

HEURISTIC EVALUATION

To understand why the platform would need these improvements in the first place, we conducted a heuristic evaluation of the current site and suspected that members may not be interacting as much as expected due to the lack of incentives or activities to do on the website. 

 

Another problem we also considered was that the site’s visual design failed to capture the organization’s welcoming and neighborly brand. 

The main issue we encountered was seeing how the onboarding process felt disconnected from the actual platform, because it was a digital sign up form separate from the website URL and didn't allow the opportunity for users to add their own personal touch.

JOURNEY MAP

To better visualize how a user would currently go through this website, we created a journey map. This helped us clearly locate the possible pain points within the user’s journey.

Journey Map.png

COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

While keeping the above findings in mind, I collaborated with the Research Lead of our team to immediately begin analyzing 4 of the most popular websites surrounding a similar goal/virtual environment. We found that almost all of them allowed users to live chat and create posts instantaneously; however, the majority were based around negative topics and complaints.

FACEBOOK

NEXTDOOR

MYNABES

FRONT PORCH

COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS

We analyzed 2 of the most popular dating apps surrounding the goal of matching users to understand how to best connect neighbors. We found that both of them highly prioritize gathering user interests and hobbies to best achieve that goal. This finding became one of the main components for the solution.

BUMBLE

MEETUP

USER INTERVIEWS

To get a more accurate understanding of behavior loops and how people form connections, we conducted interviews with 9 people who varied in technological proficiency, those who are active in their community, and those who keep to themselves.

 

Out of the several participants that we interviewed  we had three key questions that helped us find trends on whether or not this service was desired, why it was needed, and what frustrations were associated with this process of connecting with one’s community.

  1. What does it mean to be part of a community

  2. What helps create a comfortable relationship with a neighbor?

  3. How would you encourage building relationships with your neighbors

MAIN INSIGHTS

We created an affinity map to synthesize the data we gathered from the interviews and found that:

  1. People feel more included when they have a space to share information and cultivate ideas or plans.

  2. People are more inclined to pursue a connection with someone if they have similar interests and lifestyles.

  3. It can be difficult taking the first step of introducing yourself to a neighbor, and many find it unnecessary when they already have existing social circles

Common Agency Affinity Map

PERSONA

The Potential Steward (Primary)

The neighborhood network stewards are the representatives of their community. They currently have the responsibility of outreach and welcoming locals to join in making community decisions and taking collective action. The are also the ones designing the questions that are being sent out every week, in addition to neighbor match making and moderating on the platform.

The Unusual Suspect

We had also considered a secondary persona who holds the lowest percentage of activity on the platform. Although this wasn't our primary target, having this persona in mind proved beneficial when redesigning the website to consider ways to reach out to less active locals.

PROBLEM STATEMENT & HMW

As a team, we took what we learned from our research and interviews, and aligned on the main problem we needed to solve for:

Janet needs an easier and more accessible way to connect with her local neighborhood because she wants to develop positive relationships to create a more unified community.​

Using the pain points we discovered from the research, we asked ourselves:

  • How might we introduce neighbors to each other on the website?

  • How might we help neighbors discover commonalities and shared interests?

  • How might we enable neighbors to help one another?

  • How might we develop trust between neighbors?

DESIGN STUDIO

After mapping out the user flows for the new onboarding and bulletin features, our team conducted a design studio surrounding the “How might we…” statements to visualize how the potential solutions would look.

Design Studio Sketches2
Design Studio Sketches3
Design Studio Sketches
Design Studio Sketches4
Design Studio Sketches5

WIREFRAMES

Once we had our final sketches revised, pulling unique elements from each member’s iterations, it was a smooth process creating the initial low-fidelity wireframes on Figma for client and stakeholder feedback.

Screenshot 2023-01-30 at 4.50.58 PM.png
Screenshot 2023-01-30 at 4.51.40 PM.png

STYLE GUIDE

CA Style Guide.png

Considering our time constraints and the lack of style guidance that was available for the current product, we were keen to start brainstorming ways to translate our client’s brand to the tone that we wanted our redesign to exude.

 

We allotted time to research how we would emphasize warmth and acceptance to users and ensured that we made the site as accessible as we could, considering our team’s and developer’s technical constraints. This involved working with specific color palettes, font styles ,and font sizes.

It was imperative that we created a structure that anticipated organic growth in user generated content, user contributions, and categories being added; such as ‘preferred languages’ and the way this information may be presented in another language.

These considerations were made to help us create a design that could be accessible to everyone. The current users range from all ages and many come from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In addition, this style guide will be extremely useful for future iterations of the platform and ensure consistency in case it's handed off to a different product team.

TESTING & REITERATING

After receiving valuable insights from our client and stakeholders, we prepared a high-fidelity prototype to conduct 5 usability tests where all participants successfully completed the prompted tasks.

A few metrics we took into account were:

CA Metrics.png

Despite these successful sessions, we gathered various feedback that we used to reiterate the design on the last day before our design presentation to the client.

A few of the improvements included:

  • UI revisions to allow easier readability

  • Updated microcopy to make instructions feel less demanding and more inviting

  • Addition of an admin review step for the question and quest responses on the site so that content could be evaluated before being published.

FINAL PROTOTYPE WALKTHROUGH

REFLECTION + NEXT STEPS

By being able to work with a client for the first time, I was surprised with what I learned about myself, not only as a UX designer, but I discovered other skills that seemed to have come naturally to me. My main responsibilities on this project resembled those of a product manager. Seeing how well I executed task delegation and staying within scope while delivering a high quality product within a short two and a half week sprint, motivates me to continue pursuing my career as a well-rounded product designer.

 

I’m immensely grateful to have worked with an organization like Common Agency, and if we had more time, a few things I would’ve liked to have implemented in the redesign were:

CA Next Steps.png
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