A popup User-Research-UX-UI Redesign of Meetup’s member emails

Kat Vellos
Jan 27, 2015 · 7 min read

Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. They make it easy for anyone to organize a local group or connect with any of the Meetup groups happening in their area.

I love using Meetup, but my experience using their different platforms and managing communication varies widely. Sometimes it’s easy and delightful, and sometimes it’s really frustrating. One day I opened my email on my phone and the entire inbox seemed to be filled with Meetup notifications, which was overwhelming. This made me curious to know how other Meetup users felt about their experiences, especially with regard to Meetup’s email communication. So I spent one weekend doing guerilla research and creating the UX case study below.


Popup User Research

I was very clear about explaining that I don’t work for Meetup — I’m just a Meetup user and UX designer who’s curious about other people’s experiences with the service. I had 3 face-to-face interviews and got 14 respondents to my online survey.

There were 12 questions in the online survey and users provided great feedback. To make the data more interesting, I converted the bulk of the survey results into an infographic using Adobe Illustrator.

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User quotes

“I’d much rather get a notification on my phone than get an email.”

“One thing that I really like about Eventbrite is that it will tell me on my phone if something interesting is in my area. It would be great if Meetup did that too.”

Envisioning Alternatives

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Mockup 1:
Simplified Email

Since it’s possible that a new Meetup would be added after this weekly summary is sent, users may still receive individual email notifications if their setting is turned on to tell them when a new meetup is scheduled for that group.

Otherwise, they just get this one email per week. If they log in to the Meetup website, this weekly summary would display as their welcome dashboard, similar to how it is now (love that). New events are added dynamically as they are scheduled.

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Mockup 2:
Simplified Email Notification Settings

The current process:

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  • To change settings for email updates, users currently have to change each setting for every Meetup group on a separate screen.
  • There are 12 types of notification settings.
  • Users can only edit these settings for one group at a time.
  • This means that if a user belongs to 7 Meetup groups, they have to visit 7 separate screens, and within each of those screens, click 12 separate checkboxes — a total of 98 separate clicks, including selection and back clicks.
  • This level of granularity gives the user a lot of control, but can make opting out a very time-consuming task.
  • Note: There is currently one global opt-out of all emails, but no smaller “chunking” opt in/out option, and no way to view and compare different group’s settings on one screen.

I envisioned a simpler edit screen, that would allow users to view and change their email notification settings via one single, horizontally-scrollable screen.

The column listing the group names would be locked in place. Users can scroll horizontally through the 12 possible types of emails and check/uncheck as they wish. They also have a check-all/uncheck-all option to speed up the process.

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There are a lot of things that Meetup can do to reduce this pain for their users, and the solutions range from the simple to complex. Ranked in order from the fastest fix to the more intricate/time-intensive feature creation, Meetup has a lot of great opportunities:

  1. Better educate users about how to navigate and adjust the existing highly-granular notification settings.
  2. Simplify the current notification settings screen to pull all the email settings onto one page with check-all/uncheck-all functionality.
  3. Only email users once per week, with a preview summary of the upcoming week’s Meetup events. This should only include the groups that the user has opted in to getting notified about. Include a map.
  4. Provide users with a way to receive a push notification on their phone that redirects them to their weekly summary in case they don’t want to get this information via email at all. When they click the link, auto-log them in and give them the info right away. (Side note: Push notifications currently are an available feature, but they stand the possibility of overwhelming a user with notifications if the user hasn’t adjusted each group’s 12 individual notification settings.)

Whether you work at Meetup or anywhere else that has a healthy amount of email communication with your users, there are good lessons to be learned here about usability and designing for simplicity and delight.

It’s a no-brainer that a designer would be empathetic to users’ experiences when she’s (a.k.a. I’m) the user too, but it’s important that designers always be willing to investigate and research with real users whenever possible before they design solutions.

I hope this post inspires you to stay curious, and to take a little time to explore your own curiosities in the world. It doesn’t take long (this project only took me a weekend) — and you might learn something interesting that helps you solve problems in more efficient, informed and effective ways.

See you at the next Meetup!

“To me, error analysis is the sweet spot for improvement.”
— Don Norman, the grandfather of UX Design

Update: After seeing this post on Medium and Twitter, @Meetup responded with the following tweet:

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Update: I had a terrific chat on the phone with Meetup’s Design Director. It was really awesome to hear more about the history of Meetup and how that history translates into the current user experience. They have some great design improvements planned for the email and app experiences. Stay tuned for those and in the meantime, keep bringing people together and building community!

Just a final reminder: I don’t work for Meetup. I’m just a Meetup user who’s passionate about UX. I had an amazing time learning from Beverly May, founder of the @UXAwards, in @GA_SF General Assembly’s User Experience Design program in San Francisco last year.

For those unfamiliar with UX Design, the illustration below breaks down the general process. In the project described above, I only did the teal dots of the process, and at a very minimal level. For more details about me and the Meetup project, check out my portfolio at katvellos.com.

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I was recently inspired by a similar project that Francine Lee did about Dropbox Photos. I did the above project because I’m an extremely curious person, and because doing UX projects is more fun to me than anything else. Except rollerskating. Or waterslides.

#meetup #UX #UI #redesign #SF

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