Illustration

Thicket: Customized Social Networks

Client:

Thicket

Year:

2017

Role:

Product Design Lead, Project Manager

Visit Project:

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Challenge

Developing customized enterprise solutions is often consuming and inefficient from a resource perspective

Goal

Develop a network creation tool to quickly and easily create highly flexible networks for enterprise clients

Outcome

Reduced build time for new client work by over 99% - from 2-3 weeks down to 15 minutes

Overview

Before this setup process was designed, we would have to build a network from scratch for each client. We needed a simpler automated process to set up clients more quickly and easily connect all of their data together for more robust insights. By templating the process, I created structures for data collection, reduced our onboarding timeline, and allowed us to reuse templates for future clients with similar needs.

Research & Inspiration

I started with understanding how social networks are generally constructed – determining the building blocks. Research suggested that there are three reoccurring elements: member types (ie. C-level, manager, employee), group types (ie common interest, company, department) and opportunity types (ie jobs, events, projects).

My process included deconstructing popular networking sites through their site architecture. Some of those sites included Facebook, LinkedIn, and Meetup.com.

For Thicket's purposes, member types are based on feature accessibility, information collected on the individual, and points of recommendation. For example, LinkedIn has talent and recruiters. Talent are offered features such as a job board and are recommended companies, jobs, and other professionals based off of past searches and information provided in their profile.

LinkedIn also has a feature for making groups. For LinkedIn, everyone fills out the same information on their group: name, summary, website, etc. But by creating multiple group types, we were able to customize points of recommendation and information collected and displayed in the groups. The same goes for opportunity types.

Craigslist is a great example of having multiple opportunity types. You can post jobs, housing, personal ads, and more. Each of these different opportunity types has its own form. For jobs, you need to define employment type and compensation, while for housing, you'll need to define the number of bedrooms and the rent rate.

Userflow & Sitemap

Based on my research, I outlined what the full userflow into five steps:

The details section was created to collect basic identification and privacy information, and the join section was created to collect information on members during the signup process.

Content & Data Collection

I identified all of the different data collection options for member types, group types, and opportunity types through a list of client needs and my research. Profile forms collected information such as member name, location, nationality, birthday, while group and opportunity forms could collect description, cost, requirements, resources available and website.

The last step took all of these form options and asked which needed to be collected on sign in. This was sometimes necessary for certain networks to allow connections and for certain stats. A simple example of one of these sentences would be: 

"My name is [type name]. I live in [select city]. My solution to [select network goal] is to [write solution]." 

Wireframes

I kept the layout for this process as basic and straightforward as possible. They're all a series of simple forms with familiar UI to make the unfamiliar process less overwhelming.

Visual Design

I worked closely with the development team to translate and explain the designs to a working product. We met often to review wireframe annotations, timeline the build, and test together.

On February 2017, we fully implemented the new setup designs and features, and they were tremendously helpful. We no longer had to rely on clickable prototypes or copying and pasting code. We could simply set up a network to demo in five steps - 15 minutes, and it was ready to go. To date, Thicket has on-boarded 15 organizations and over 275 member users in public health policy, civic tech, and entrepreneurial incubators.

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