Maid Sis — Digital hiring platform for domestic helpers

A case study demonstrating my thought process and design skills

In this case study, I hope to show you:

Business Opportunity

Brian is stoked. He has a new idea for an app — a digital hiring platform connecting domestic helpers and household employers.

It’s big money in Hong Kong. There are over 350,000 helpers here, making a minimum salary of $4,310 (£430) per month. And new contracts are signed every day.

Helpers chilling on their day-off

Framing the Problem

Agencies suck

Hiring a domestic helper is a big deal for parents. Their child’s upbringing depends on it.

Recruitment agencies use this to their advantage by charging a hefty commission, around 1.5 to 2 times the helper’s monthly salary (up to £900).

Not only that, complaints of agencies providing false information are all too common. It’s a one-off deal, so agencies want to reap as much profit from it as possible.

Mobile-first economy

Smartphones have been around for years now. Helpers use them all the time. And parents trust them enough for hiring.

It’s only a matter of time when physical agencies become redundant and recruitment processes are done electronically.

3 Common Complaints with Agencies ^

It’s on the news — agencies tricking customers with inaccurate information and even colluding with helpers to increase their profits.

Here are the three major complaints:

1. Helper no-show

How an app solves this

  • Employer can message helpers directly, greatly reducing the chance of no-show

2. Poor performance

How an app solves this

  • Employer can interview multiple helpers face-to-face before making a decision
  • Employer can rehire within the period of payment plan without extra cost

3. Early resignation

How an app solves this

  • Employer can report helper in the follow-up review
  • Employer can rehire within the period of payment plan without extra cost

Major Competitors ^

There are two main competitors in the market.

HelperChoice

Our biggest competitor. Founded in 2012, HelperChoice has grown to a 450K Facebook following and has frequent listings on their website and app.

Their brand combines a community-driven mission with a lively vibe to appeal to its customers. They’re active on Facebook, posting every week, and receive enthusiastic engagement.

HelperChoice Facebook page

HelperLibrary

They have a combined 18k followers on their two Facebook pages — one for helpers and the other for employers.

Their focus is on the mobile platform.

HelperLibrary Facebook page (helper side)

2 Ways Maid Sis can Stand Out

By leveraging current market knowledge, we can differentiate ourselves from the competition in two ways.

1. Exceptional mobile-first experience

Neither competitor has a great mobile app.

If we streamline the hiring process with an exceptional mobile-first experience, customers will be compelled to use our service.

(left to right) Home screens of HelperChoice, Maid Sis and HelperLibrary

2. Niche marketing

Signing helpers from abroad complicates the hiring process.

By targeting helpers already living in Hong Kong, we simplify communication and allow a smoother selection process for employers.

7 Key Experiences and Journeys ^

To zero in on the app experience, I came up with 7 main tasks. These tasks were selected because:

  • They are critical and could make or break the app
  • They contain a lot of mental friction and require attention

1. Signup journey — Frictionless

The business requires users to log in before using the app.

My goal was to make signing up frictionless, collecting just enough information to get the user through.

Be inviting

Bunchy text and a serious voice scare people.

To be warm and welcoming, the app addresses the user by her first name and asks questions in bite-sized chunks.

Signup screens

Experience Map

Prototype

Signup journey

2. Employer onboarding — Arouse curiosity and desire

The first time my client saw the mockups, he said housewives wouldn’t know how to use the app. They needed more guidance.

Indeed, housewives love communication and a hand-holding approach.

My goal was to inform users and arouse their curiosity, so they’re ready and excited to use the app.

Show them the advantage

Before entering the home screen, we show users some benefits.

Employer benefits

Delight the user

The first time users enter the app, there are welcome speech bubbles and a message from the founder.

Welcome messages

Experience Map

Prototype

Employer onboarding

3. Employer ad creation journey— Rewarding

Creating an ad is the most boring and laborious task of the app.

My goals was to help users overcome the mental hurdles by offering plenty of tips and mini rewards.

Providing rewards

For example, the user receives a tick after completing an entry. The “Next” button activates when the form is complete.

Checked fields

The boxes are easy to press and light up for extra satisfaction.

Highlighted fields

Providing hints

Grey text and the “See an example” option help the user complete the long text field.

Placing this step near the end, when the user has gone through all the detail requirements, helps her form a mental picture and makes writing easier.

Example text

Experience Map

Prototype

Employer ad creation journey

4. Employer hiring journey — Organized

Most employers know very little about hiring and get worried.

My goals was to make the hiring process highly organized, so the user feels she is in control.

Dedicated “tips” section

A whole tab is dedicated to tips and tutorials. This relieves the user from major concerns while keeping her in the app.

“Tips” section

Progressive tips

To avoid overwhelming the user, new tips pop up whenever she completes a milestone.

Experience Map

5. Helper onboarding — Arouse curiosity and desire

Similar to the employer’s journey, my goal was to get the user excited about using the app.

Show them the advantage

Before helpers enter the home screen, we show them some unique benefits.

Helper benefits

Experience Map

Prototype

Helper onboarding journey

6. Helper profile creation journey — Rewarding

Helpers had a much longer form to fill in, so it was important to break up sections appropriately.

Improve memory recall

Let’s imagine a helper recalling a previous work experience.

It’s likely to follow this order:

Country > Employer > House > Family & duties > Start & end dates

Form design: the order of data fields

Make it easy

A similar principle applies to the entire form. Start with easy and desirable fields, and gradually build towards the bigger picture:

Job preferences> Experience & skills > Personal facts > Self-introduction

Form design: the order of sections

Experience Map

Prototype

Helper profile creation journey

7. Helper job hunting journey — Organized

Again–we want to give lots of assurance to helpers so they feel confident in approaching employers and doing interviews.

Helpful Tips

We offer helpers new tips when they complete a milestone, e.g. created their profile.

Helper tips

Success Stories

Adding stories of helpers getting hired through Maid Sis will definitely boost the confidence of new users.

Brand Positioning

Brian is happy with the app’s look and function. But he’s concerned about promoting it.

I advise him to create a brand that promotes itself — a great brand worth talking about.

At first, Brian was confused.

Can we have a clever tagline to use for our logo and social media?

I tell him that a brand is not a logo or tagline or design. It’s our customers’ perception of our product.

To simplify things, I offer him the three F-words.

Fair

Maid Sis empowers employers and helpers to make the right choice by removing the influence of middlemen.

Fast

Maid Sis is the most efficient and time-saving way to hire and get hired.

Fantastic

Maid Sis serves its customers so well that everyone is raving about it.

Success Parameters

The app may work amazingly, but several other factors determine the business’s overall success.

Network effect

We need a critical mass of listed helpers before employers will use our app, and vice versa.

A practical way is to get helpers sign up and create a profile by offering some sort of reward.

Content generation

Both our target audience are active on social media channels such as Facebook. Interesting content increases brand value and helps spread the word.

Also, written tutorials are important for users to master the app and hiring process.

Follow-up and referrals

With such a definite user life cycle (employers usually hire once), referrals are crucial to sustain the business.

There needs to be a refined follow-up and referral process through email or other marketing channels.

Lessons Learnt

  1. This app has a short and definite user lifecycle. The onboarding and referral processes need to be seamless.
  2. Our target audience need extra guidance and love communication
  3. Form design: help users recall information

Thank You

Like what you see? We could be working together.

Drop me an email at scottmilburnhk@gmail.com

Bonuses ^

The real — heroes.

Sketches

Sketches 1
Sketches 2
Sketches 3
Sketches 4

Task Flows

1. Employer onboarding
2. Employer posts ad
3. Employer looks for helper
4. Helper onboarding
5. Helper looks for employer
6. User check message via chat

Sitemaps

Employer Sitemap
Helper sitemap

Logo Design

THE END — Go to Top
One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.