Mobile-first listings website

Cowork Life

  • 2017 - 2018

Role:

Co-founder, User Experience Designer, and Visual Designer.

Overview

Initial statement

My Co-founder and I met at a coworking space in Guadalajara, Mexico. We both had tried different workspaces in search of the right one, so we wanted to help others make this process easier with a simple online search.

Team

At first, it was only my Co-founder and I. He was responsible for the management of the project. I was responsible for product design and branding. Later on, we hired a developer and a Marketing Agency.

Constraints

We started the project with our personal savings so we had to do everything ourselves. Being the only product designer made the workload heavier and I was not in an economic position to devote myself full-time to the project.

Research Insights

Contextual research

  • Unsteady clientele.
  • The concept was very unknown in Mexico.
  • Businesses were selling or closing.
  • No websites in Mexico with detailed information.

User interviews

  • Find an office that suits their lifestyle.
  • Connect with similar professionals and projects.
  • Don´t know where to look for an office space.
  • They had moved several times.

Competitive analysis

  • Presence in 6 continents.
  • Just 3 months in Mexico and few registered spaces.
  • Search by location and amenities.

  • Detailed information and user reviews.
  • Coworking space owner registration.
  • Freemium business model.

What problem were we trying to solve?

People had a hard time searching for a coworking space that they felt related to.

Possible solution

Organize coworking spaces into profession categories to boost peoples productivity and connect them to related professionals and projects.

Moving forward

At this point, we applied at Spark Up, a business incubator in Guadalajara, Mexico which receives government funding to coach and launch business ideas. With this funding, my Co-founder and I hired a developer to help us build our MVP. Later on, we hired a marketing agency to help us design a launching strategy.

Understanding our users

Audience

By visiting multiple coworking spaces in the area, I noticed that there were 3 dominant types of people and they all shared the same principle, they wanted to be closer to related professionals and didn´t know where to look for. Two groups were strong mobile users, so a mobile-first website made sense and a desktop version was secondary, but still needed.

Young entrepreneurs

(21 to 25 years old)

  • Low budget.
  • Grow professional circle.
  • Strong mobile user.

Freelance professionals

(25 to 35 years old)

  • Get more work.
  • Closer to related professionales.
  • Strong mobile user.

Seasoned entrepreneurs

(30 to 40 years old)

  • Office expenses worry-free.
  • Good environment for employees.
  • Strong desktop user.

User goals

  • Search: by location and profession category (creative, developer, corporate, and social).
  • Filter: by amenities and specific location.
  • Learn: view images, address, open hours, pricing, amenities and past reviews.
  • Contact: contact the space directly through a contact form or contact us to get further assistance.

MVP definition

We followed a Lean Startup approach by designing a listings website using WordPress CMS capabilities to iterate our designs and business model faster. We started with the three major cities in Mexico, which are Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. We would measure success with the number of messages sent to spaces directly.

Design Process

User scenarios

I determined that after users visited the website, they could search by location and filter by specific requirements. The users should then see all the details such as images, pricing, reviews, and contact information. Users decide to contact the owner directly but still need further assistance so they contact us through our live chat.

Flowchart

Homepage should include a search form that would lead to a search page with additional filters. After that, a template screen had to be designed to use on every workspace with detailed information and a contact form. To keep track of sent messages, we connected the form to a Google Spreadsheet using Zapier.

Paper first

Like every project, I started sketching with pencil and paper to land all my ideas of how the architecture should be and move forward into designing higher fidelity wireframes.

Wireframes

I designed a search form on the Homepage and displayed related categories, such as profession, cities, featured listings and testimonials. The search results page displayed a search form with filters and the workspaces as cards. The detail page showed the image gallery first, followed by basic details, pricing information, amenities and opinions, all organized into tabs to improve mobile navigation. I also added a tab displaying similar listings to help users make the right decision.

Validating task flows

I created a quick prototype using Sketch and tested to validate flows. It helped me understand that it made more sense to display location category first on the homepage, rather than lifestyle. The insight was that people want to select their destination first and then choose their lifestyle. Displaying pricing with a horizontal slider in detail page made it very difficult to compare the same product with variations. I also had to design a quick action for the users to contact the owners.

Design explorations

Some wireframes had to be redesigned to simplify the interaction.

First Homepage

Showing listings in the Homepage with a vertical scroll made it very long and tedious.

New Homepage

I decided to propose a horizontal scroll, showing a portion of the next item as a hint.

First Search page

Search filters and listing cards were taking too much space.

New Search page

I simplified search filters and listings to minimize scrolling. Also added a map with specific locations.

Visual design

Text-styles and colors were defined taking accessibility into account.

Testing

I conducted in-person user testing These are the key insights:

Must have

  • Translate to English.
  • Filter by pricing.
  • Higher quality images.
  • Assistance via WhatsApp.

Nice to have

  • Change currency to USD.
  • Make a reservation online.
  • Online registration for owners.

Final design

Motion interactions

Homepage
Search results
Detail page

Conclusion

Current situation

After 4 months of marketing efforts, we were not seeing any positive results from our users, so we had to regroup and discuss the problem.

We held a focus group with 7 coworking space owners who we had close contact with. We learned that the problem was not so much attracting new customers, but maintaining them and keeping a healthy management of their business. Some workspaces were almost always at their full capacity but were having a hard time keeping their businesses alive and most of them had losses. We then learned that most of them used very archaic tools, such as pen and paper, and the most technologically advanced were using Excel spreadsheets. They had little control over their billing system, so little, that some customers had not even paid in months.

After these findings, we decided that the business model had to pivot to a SaaS product, designed for coworking space administrators. The idea of getting more exposure through a listings website should be a feature and not the main product.

We searched for private funding until an interested investor finally appeared. An ERP is currently being built and will also allow end-customers to book and pay their recurring bills through an app.

Unfortunately, my economic situation at the time didn't allow me to continue with the project, so I signed a document releasing my co-founder of all obligations to me, so that he could continue with no problems.

Learnings

A pivot doesn't necessarily mean failure. Our lean startup approach and UX helped us identify the real problem, by investing as little as possible before spending hundreds of thousands of Mexican pesos on an unsuccessful product.

When you get so clouded into finding a solution to a problem you identify with, it becomes very easy to lose perspective and let key indicators pass you by. In other words, always stay as objective as possible.

In retrospective

I would have spent more time with coworking spaces owners, trying to learn why so many were selling or closing, rather than jumping to the conclusion that marketing and exposure were the problem.