Learning through critique

A usability study of meetup.com

I’m in the process of trying to improve my understanding of usability practices. Critiques have always been a great source of education for me so I decided to do my own critique of meetup.com. It is not meant to be comprehensive, but it was a great learning tool.

The framework of the critique is creating use cases that focus on a couple of important features of the site: browsing, RSVP’ing and creating a group. As well as doing my own critique I received feedback from other designers at Simple Focus.

Use Case One: Browsing

Our user is given a link to meetup.com to look for “live music” events in Portland, Or.

Homepage, first-time visit

She goes to meetup.com

There is some unintentional marketing towards mothers. The text over the images is difficult to read. The CTA doesn’t match her conceptual model of what she’s there to do


She searches “live music”

This search mechanism feels like a blend between searching and filtering. “Meetups with friends” shouldn’t be a thing at this point because meetup doesn’t know who the user’s friends are.

“Groups” results

She’s presented with group results

The text is again difficult to read. There is an overwhelming presentation of results here. It’s a solid, scrolling grid of possibilities.

Browsing suggestions

Show a contextually appropriate image. In this case you could show an image of a group or event in Portland, Or. Show both groups and events on it. She may be looking for a specific group of people in her area or she may be looking for something to do in the not-too-distant future. Have the ability to search by logical chunks of time. There should be actions that she can take on the groups or events from here without having to go anywhere. Give her the ability to favorite from here so that she can have the ability to save some of her options. Let her RSVP up front and let her share things with people.

Use Case Two: RSVP’ing

Our user receives an email with links to multiple groups from a friend. His goal is to RSVP to an event for one of these groups.

Group landing page

He clicks on a link from his email and lands here

The layout lacks clarity and hierarchy. There’s a huge chunk of space dedicated to trying to get the user to “Sign up” or “Join us” and also to find out who we know here. The next upcoming event is pretty buried.

Event landing page

He lands here after clicking “Monthly meeting”

The final goal is to RSVP and we see a button to do that here. It is of course coupled with the action to join.

RSVP pop-up

A sign up process begins

RSVP’ing suggestions

Don’t mix up joining and RSVP’ing. By launching the user off on a long sign up process you’re stretching their patience and maybe their confidence too. You’ll need their name so that you can keep a record of whose coming to your event. You can also ask for their email so that you can send them a link to the event they just signed up for. Give them a choice to let you keep their email. It will give them freedom from feeling like they may get spammed.

Use Case Three: Creating a group

Our user is passionate about something and wants to create a group to share her interest with others.

Start a Meetup Group landing page

She lands here after clicking “Start a Meetup Group”

This screen is the first in a series of eight. It would be tedious to show you every one of them and I’m afraid that it’d stretch your patience.

Subscription landing page

She eventually lands here

It isn’t until going through eight steps that she finally lands here. There is no reason to artificially complicate creating a group. I’ve found this one of the most confusing decisions meetup.com has made as this is clearly one way that they make money from their users.

Creating groups suggestions

Simplify and condense the process as much as possible. Let people know that you’ll be asking them for money up front. Reassure them that they’re in the right place by having a CTA that matches what they’re there to do. Combine it with a value proposition and a message about what to do if anything goes wrong.

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