Market Efficiently, Consistently
As you expand your brand marketing to a wider audience, you will inevitably generate hundreds of social media posts, many of them conveying the same content, but across different mediums.
Social Report is designed to help you to generate content and post to all your social media accounts at the same time. Over the past several years it has risen to be one of the top social media management (SMM) tools through addressing the needs of digital marketing agencies and small businesses.
I worked for Social Report as the sole Product Designer for 4–5 months in the beginning of 2019 to help improve the core user experience of publishing posts, and ultimately, convert more free trial users.
Research — Building Constant User Dialogue
Understanding deeply who uses a product and why they choose to use that product is a key component to designing improvements in almost any industry. I began my understanding of Social Report by doing as many user interviews as possible, analyzing current usage data, and building a competitive analysis of social media management (SMM) publishing flows.
User interviews began revealing who the primary users are, latent pain points of day-to-day usage, and reasons why users are putting up with those pain points.
“The things I can do with Social Report is great, but the flow is cumbersome…Everything is a billion steps.”
“While it may not be the best looking or most functional, no other tool can do what it does for the price it’s offered at.”
After talking to over 20 Social Report users and analyzing usage data, it seemed the primary user of Social Report is a digital marketer who has been driven to the product after using a more renown social media management tool like Hootsuite, either due to a cheaper overall price, niche use cases, or the ability to white label the product as their own. I formalized these findings by creating one primary persona and two secondary personas to center the design decisions around.
What became immediately clear to the team was how talking to users yielded improvements to the whole product, not just the publishing flow. Seeing the inherent benefit for the team, I made and effort to implement a User Research Wednesday where we would have a user scheduled for at least a half hour to do anything user-centered (interviews, usability tests, prototype testing, ect.).
After more deeply investigating the target market, I researched which social media management (SMM) tools had the most web traffic and identified the top four: Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, and Sendible. To compare the publishing flows, I measured how many steps it takes to publish and what functions each application had.
What became immediately clear was how the top SMM publishing flows have at most 2 steps, while Social Report had a 4–7 step publishing flow.
Design Facilitate. Test.
Being a startup, I worked closely with the CEO to ensure my research aligned with his several years of experience building the business from the ground up. In my experience it’s important to come into any project with a beginners mindset, willing to learn from those who have been devoting their days to thinking about the problem space.
As the designer, it was my job to lead the redesign of the publisher in an amicable, efficient manner. I utilized a chapter from the book, Lean UX, where I ran an all day design workshop in which a representative from each domain (CEO, Engineering, Marketing, Support) got involved in sketching wireframes for our publishing flow. This speed up the buy-in from the CEO and the Engineers, allowing them to be part of the design thinking and air out their concerns about development.
We decided upon the merits of each design, and came to a ‘canonical’ wireframe flow in which we would base the publisher redesign. At this time, I created a digital wireframe reflecting the decisions made in the workshop.
I formalized the design, adding color and speccing out interactions for each scenario a Social Report user would face and how the new interface could parity the current functionality. I then tested the flow on User Research Wednesday with a click-through prototype, yielding invaluable feedback on where exactly current and potential users were getting lost.
Iterations Based on Market Feedback
The iterations on the publishing flow were designed to address the pain points user testing revealed. While there were many iterations in different areas, I want to give an example of one.
One of the places we aimed to gain parity with other SMM tools was in previewing how your post looks on different social networks while creating the post. We initially designed a system which would only preview the most popular social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest).
Users were tripped up, asking for assistance and generally unsure if their post would be successful for non-preview social networks. We created an alternative where we had a pseudo drop down from the icons in order to change out a live preview of a social network.
When we put this to the test, users were unsure of how to interact with a dropdown and what would exactly happen when they selected from the dropdown. We quickly changed our design to a system where social networks would dynamically be added to the live preview as they are selected
Our testing indicated this was the best option for our users.
After hammering out our perceived pain points from user testing, we began recruiting current users for a beta program in which they could enable the new publishing flow.
When you have a funnel to get users towards a goal, launching quick MVPs is ideal in driving the product forward. When improving workflows of a product with established users, the MVP model of releasing fast and iterating quickly isn’t exactly ideal. Imagine being a daily user of a product and having a critical function change its design often; the result could push users to call support more often or explore more stable options.
Launching with a beta group helps gain insights into sustained use of a new flow. It helps identify catastrophic bugs or necessary improvements so the redesign’s launch can go as smooth as possible.
As of now, the new design is in the beta program, getting ready to be released to the entire user base.