Providing UX Consulting to EventPuff
EventPuff is a pretty new startup and their product is a platform that allows hirers and part-timers to connect quickly over the platform.
Their key selling point to hirers is how inexpensive and convenient the platform is. Hirers no longer have to look for temporary staff by scouring their network, and they can also avoid having to put up expensive job ads for random ad hoc work.
On the other hand, their key selling point to part-timers (also known as Puffins) is how fuss-free and how quickly they can get a part-time job. Once a Puffin becomes verified, they do not have to be interviewed and can get a job immediately.
In essence, this means that the hiring process is fast and trustworthy.
About the Project
The final project to our course at General Assembly was to become UX consultants for a client company. In this case, our client was EventPuff. My group consisted of Evonne and Shuk Mun, and we named ourselves Team Jigglypuff because of its similarity to the client’s product. We spent the weekend reading up about EventPuff and trying out their portal before eventually meeting them on 19th of July.
We met with two of the clients, Alex and Leon, to talk about what they would like us to do in the project. Essentially, our job was to make use of whatever we have learnt over the course and apply it to an actual real life situation. We were meant to validate their product through user research, improve on the usability issues on their current product, suggest features for their product and produce a prototype with a specific feature in which they asked for.
We also learnt that while they currently only have simple jobs that do not require any skills, they are looking into expanding towards part-time jobs that require special skills or traits. Some of these traits are physical — for example, being a good height of 180cm, or having a physical appearance that “looks Korean”. This is a problem for EventPuff at the moment as their portal can not handle such a situation since they have only been catering for low-skill part-time jobs.
One other area that EventPuff is currently looking at improving is the speed of verifying a Puffin. As there is a need for Puffins to have enough knowledge of EventPuff’s policies and to be Singaporean, the process of becoming a verified Puffin requires them to complete a quiz and also to submit photos of themselves and the front and backs of their NRICs. As software is unable to do the job of automatic verification, EventPuff has to do verification of the Puffins manually — slowing down the process.
After the client meeting, we felt that the first thing to do was to run a heuristic evaluation of the current portal. Our client had mentioned that users see the value of their product but have found that portal was not very user friendly.
There were several issues that we have found, although most of them were rather minor. These were issues that could be solved easily although they could cause some difficulties in using the site. Here, I will raise some of the more prominent heuristic issues.
1. Notifications are never cleared
Puffins are usually alerted of new jobs via notifications in their mobile application. However, this notification does not get cleared even after one has gone in and taken a look at the job. Our guess is that this number is actually an indication of the jobs currently listed. This is confusing for Puffins who think that there are new jobs when there are no new jobs and affects visibility of system status because while users get to see the status, the status is not accurate. Notifications and alerts should be cleared once a user has been “notified”.
2. Phone Number Validations when editing profile
Validations for phone numbers should probably not provide an error for a registered number because the numbers (especially prepaid SIM card numbers) get recycled in Singapore. Additionally, there is no such validation when you try to sign up, so there should not be any validation when you want to edit the number either. (999 works when you try to sign up) This violates consistency and standards since the validations do not occur for the same piece of information. If there is a need to check for bad phone numbers, it should show up as a warning. It should also notify EventPuff in case they feel that there is a need to do a check.
3. Issues for Puffin’s Quiz page
A huge issue with the quiz is that it is a requirement in the verification process! This quiz requires you to score 10/10, otherwise you had to retake the quiz. You would not know the questions you answered wrongly, and you had to start all over again instead of just answering the wrong questions. You also had to read the FAQs in order to answer some of the questions — it would be very tough to guess the answer without having read the FAQs first.
If you open FAQs on the mobile app while trying to do the quiz, you also get redirected to a new page. After which, you cannot get back and you will have to lose the “questions” you have completed prior. This is fine on the website because you can open a new tab, but not usable on the mobile app.
Additionally, some questions in the quiz are also not needed for a puffin to really be considered qualified. These two areas violate error prevention and consistency and standards. Instead of opening a new tab, EventPuff can try to provide information using a layer instead. This prevents users from having to go into a new tab and then losing all the answers to the questions. Quiz questions 3, 8 and 9 are also kind of meaningless to ask so maybe they should be removed.
4. Puffins can only browse the platform after they sign up and get verified!
The problem with this is that the verification process takes very long to complete like mentioned earlier. While this prevents non-qualified Puffins to start applying for part-time jobs on the platform, it also results in new Puffins giving up on the platform because of how difficult it is to even get started.
New users want to be able to try the platform as soon as they can, not sign up, get frustrated while completing the quiz, and finally, wait a few days and manually get themselves verified to become a qualified Puffin who can use the platform.
EventPuff can easily solve this by just allowing free access to the platform but not allowing non-qualified Puffins to apply for part-time jobs.
5. No logout button on the mobile application
A user may have reasons to want to logout from his/her account and should be allowed to have the choice to logout. For example, a Puffin might want to logout to let a friend use the EventPuff application on their phone. In order to provide for user control and freedom, EventPuff should add a logout button somewhere accessible.
6. Name of button only shows when you mouseover it
New users will not be able to understand what a button until they mouseover the button to read the name of the button. This affects the visibility of system status and recognition rather than recall. EventPuff can have the name of the button to be shown outside of the button and not only when you mouseover it in order to solve this problem.
7. Avoid having to navigate left/right when the main scrolling format is up/down.
Having to navigate left and right when the main scroll is up/down makes it slightly difficult for users to use. This has problems in flexibility and efficiency of use. EventPuff can show all the information instead of breaking it up into smaller pieces and hiding some of it behind a left/right navigating pane.
8. Job Category field should be broken up further to reduce the size of the dropdown
When trying to add a new job and trying to fill up some of the information, we can see the job categories are so plentiful that the dropdown becomes very long. There are so many job categories here and it may even grow more so it may become very hard to look for exactly what you want without proper segmentation as shown here. This creates problems for flexibility and efficiency of use. EventPuff can afford to segment it further. Since there is an “inner” category shown here as well, maybe it will be better to split it up into the larger overarching category and the individual categories will be within each overarching category.
9. Employers information appears to be more important than Puffins information because they appear first on the home page.
While this is not really a heuristic problem, it is important as EventPuff values both hirers and Puffins equally, yet this is not shown based on the front page as the hirer’s information comes in immediately at a scroll. Puffin’s information on the other hand is at the bottom half of the home page. We feel this will cause Puffins to leave the site after seeing this as they might think that there are no informations for Puffins and this is not the correct place to find information. A way to solve this is to split the screen up to have two sides, one size is for hirers and one side is for Puffins.
10. Login button is only for Puffins, Hirers login via “For Hirer” button
If a hirer wants to login, he or she will need to click on the “for hirer” button instead of the “login” button and this might not be intuitive to most people. This is because it is expected that one should be able to login through the “login” button in the first place. Such a problem is an issue for consistency and standards as people will recognise that “login” button is meant for “login” and hirers will be confused when they are unable to login even with the right account and password.
After meeting with our client, we were introduced to some competitors which may be doing similar things, platforms that work similar to Eventpuff, and some methods of connecting hirers and part-timers to how EventPuff works. Thus, we did competitive analysis with Gumtree, Parttimejobs.sg, Facebook groups, and Wonolo.
Essentially, we found that Gumtree, and Parttimejobs.sg are similar in a sense that they are free to use and have a huge database of of jobs. They are also easy to use, hirers and part-timers on it respond quickly and they also have an ad hoc category for part-time jobs. These are important areas for EventPuff to take note of because they need to be at least equals in these areas in order to compete with them.
For Facebook groups, the special thing about them is that users can see mutual friends in these groups as well as see their friend’s responses. We will later see that from our interviews, this is pretty important because friends tend to want to do part-time jobs together.
Lastly, there is also Wonolo which is the best case example with a very similar concept to EventPuff. Their X-factor is actually their verification speed — this is something that is a bit of a trouble for EventPuff because they have to verify that someone is a legitimate Singaporean before they can allow this person to become a verified Puffin that can do work for hirers.
User Interviews & Affinity Mapping
For the interviews, we actually went out to interview 5 hirers and 5 part-timers. We found a significant amount of information as can be shown by the number of post-its below.
We rearranged our findings by user behaviour and finally put them into 6 areas: social, motivation, hiring criteria, scheduling, payment and others.
What we found on the social area was that Puffins would actually like to work with other friends if possible. Hirers also tend to like to hire groups of friends because they are usually easier to trust and work with when they are friends. It also easily solves the problem of finding people.
For motivation, we see that part-timers can work for all sorts of different reasons. Obviously, monetary benefits remain the most important and most prominent, but there are some that look for part-time jobs that can help improve themselves and enriches their lives. Some also make decisions based on the location of the workplace and almost all of them felt that at some point in time they will eventually stop doing part-time jobs and move on to full-time jobs. Hirers also tend to hire students for ad hoc part-time jobs mostly and also know that the pool of part-timers they know needs to keep refreshing. They find hiring in this way to be the most cost-efficient and will actually not mind paying more as the level of urgency gets higher.
Under hiring criteria, we see that hirers have a few areas to look out for. This includes tangible skills and intangible skills. Intangible skills meant that they usually have to interview such hires before making a decision on whether they have the required skills and whether to hire them, and tangible skills are skills that can assessed by things like certificates.
For scheduling, we learnt that Puffins commonly only look for jobs that can fit into their personal schedules, and hirers actually even know exam schedules for local schools as well.
For payment, it is a little obvious, but Puffins want to be paid quickly while hirers want to be able to defer payment until they really have the money to pay for it.
Lastly, in the others portion, this is for the insights we found that do not really fit anywhere. This includes Puffins needing clearer job descriptions, required training being an important factor, and puffins and hirers keeping a good relationship with one another even after the job ends.
With our findings, we came up with a total of 6 personas. 2 were hirer personas and 4 were Puffin personas. Of the 4 Puffin personas, we made 2 of them the main Puffin personas and made the remaining 2 secondary personas.
Customer Journey Maps
After the personas, we also did customer journey maps for the 2 hirers and the 2 main Puffin personas. This was to help us to better identify the ideas and areas in which was important for us to prioritise and work on.
Based on our heuristic evaluation, there were some already some areas and features that we had to work on. We also did a design studio session and brainstormed on features that could help EventPuff in the areas which they were still lacking in.
With the completion of the brainstorming, we went to meet our client and discussed our findings to see if they liked what we found and find out more from them what we should work on.
The following are all the ideas we have come up with:
A. How to allow “special requirements”
- Use of videos by Puffins. Have option to include videos of themselves in profile, provide video clips of related videos they have done
- Use of videos by Hirers. Include a video of company profile.
- Self-created required field on the platform, add on categories
- Reviews/ratings from previous employers/puffins
- A short write-up about yourself (assess language skills)
- Puffins to include portfolio site, blog, no. of followers
- Puffins to include body stats (like modeling portfolio)
- Puffins to upload certificates, awards
- Provide guidelines on pictures Puffins should use for profile
- Hirers to give a persona of talents they are looking for
- “Who we last hired” (Puffins can get an idea of working culture)
B. How to solve interview problem
- Provide guidelines on how Puffins can better write a profile
- Video interview (Audition)
- Get Puffins to perform task and video it down (indicates their willingness in the job)
- Skype interview
C. Solve training issues
- Encourage rehiring
- Self-training manuals
- Video training process down
D. Better job descriptions
- Hirers to only list what you must have (e.g. Top 3 things you are looking for in a Puffin)
- Sort jobs by location, Puffin to include where they stay/convenient for them.
- Level of puffin required
- Level of difficulty or challenge of job / learning curve (how much a puffin can learn on the job)
E. How to solve fast payment (Puffins) and payment later (Hirers)
- Credits payment system
- Alternative payments (coupons, discount vouchers)
F. Puffin reviews
- Puffin referral system (Puffin to recommend Puffins to Hirers, Hirers to recommend Puffins to Hirers)
- Puffin-to-Puffin review
- Rating system (By which Hirer)
- Puffin ranking system
- Become a specialised high-level Puffin
- Recommendation letters from friends (maybe) or from important people
G. Hirers bypassing EVP
- Rewards for Puffins: levels/gamification
- Rewards for Hirers (discounts, credits for premium account)
- To build a strong puffin community
- Connect to Facebook (find mutual friends, bring friends along)
- Personal scheduling tool for Hirer (retain them on app)
- Make some Puffins as brand ambassadors (“Best puffin of the month”)
- Community for hirers (share resources)
- Calendar function
- Puffin’s school curriculum to be automatically included, exam periods by schools indicated
- Allows Hirers to group Puffins together
I. Last minute jobs
- Countdown timer (charge different rate, rank job higher in job listings)
- Alert Puffins (of certain skill sets) who are not working on that day of a new job they might like to take up
After the client meeting, it was decided that we would only work on the three of the areas we found from our affinity mapping. This was because EventPuff felt that they were not ready and not large enough for some of our suggested ideas and some other features were way too difficult for them to implement at the moment. Thus, the final areas for consideration from our affinity map were social, motivation and hiring criteria, and the following areas will also be the ones that we focus on for the prototype:
A. How to allow “special requirements”
B. How to solve interview problem
D. Better job descriptions
F. Puffin reviews
G. Hirers bypassing EVP
For our prototype, we did a hi-fidelity prototype for the home page. The visual design for it was done by Evonne. We decided to split the page into two halves as we wanted to make sure that both hirers and Puffins appear equally important unlike.
To better showcase our prototype, we have made also videos with the scenarios that hirers and puffins go through when trying to hire/find a job.
For our usability tests, we tested on both hirers and Puffin’s flows.
These were the areas in which we wanted to test on:
Hirers Test Scenarios
- Create account
- Create job listing
- View job listing
- Duplicate job listing
- Find jobs that require payment soon
- Re-hire/Hire Puffins
- Rate Puffins
- Leave a review for Puffins
Puffins Test Scenarios
- Figure out what is a Puffin
- Create account (but not verified)
- Apply for job (when not verified)
- Get verified (and then apply for that job)
- View job information
- Find page which lists the job listings
- Check payment progress
- Leave a review for Puffins
- Refer a Puffin to a job
- Find out if someone is trying to re-hire you
What we found was that all the testers were able to figure out how to do all the tasks, and that there was no task which was unsuccessful.
However, there were some usability problems that we faced. Testers would mostly not use the notifications tab on the top right despite the fact that alerts and notifications will appear there. We felt that this might be because the alerts does not appear as red because our prototype was a grayscale prototype and we would test this again if we have a coloured prototype.
Additionally, it seems like the naming of certain headers/titles may be slightly confusing to some, for example some testers felt that “My Jobs” might mean that it is a place for just your personal jobs, but what it was supposed to represent was the entire list of jobs. We feel that this could possibly just be renamed to “Jobs” so that it encompasses that scenario as well.
We also had some other problems which was not really usability related. For example we had a few incomplete interactions and links and this lowers the testers assessment of our prototype. The lag on Axure which is unavoidable also frustrates some of the testers because it was slow.
Lastly, we also had good comments as well. People mentioned that the user interface was nice looking and that the flow was good. The site was also pretty easy to use according to them.
3 Biggest Takeaways
- Through this project, I realised the importance of always checking back to what you have found in your research and heuristic evaluation. While it is not that I never knew this before, sometimes when we work on new parts of a project we tend to get excited and forget what is most important. Luckily there was more time for this project and we could quickly steer ourselves back on track for our prototype.
- I also saw the importance of doing user interviews with at least two interviewers. This is due to the fact that a single interviewer has to ask question, watch the interviewees expressions and also take down notes as fast as possible and this is an almost herculean effort. Having one other person to help take down notes makes it a lot easier to go about doing interviews.
- Another thing I learnt was about usability testing. I personally felt that it was best to get someone who might not be a potential user to do the testing. This is because you are better able to measure the real usability of the prototype better when someone who has zero clue about the type of system uses it. If they are able to use it well, it means that the usability is really good, otherwise it needs some improvements. If we used real users (we used real users as testers for our project), then they might already have some learning curve and be able to use it slightly better, resulting in the masking of the real usability for the project.