UX Project 4: WeWork. WeLive. WeLax.

Finding focus within ambiguity (Tuesday — Wednesday). Our team, David, Irina and I, were tasked to develop a UX project around a passion point. We started to think about overall well-being whether that be physical health, mental health, or offering tools to help someone feel rejuvenated by allowing travel to be more accessible. After a day of researching different problems that are currently present within New York, we decided to focus on a co-working space, WeWork, that has expanded exponentially worldwide in the last 6 years since it was founded in 2010 with its headquarters in NYC.

WeWork has completely redesigned the idea of shared working spaces so much so that they’ve recently delved into changing the landscape of urban living by creating WeLive. Our team wanted to piggyback off the idea of creating community by ensuring that professionals could manage a work/life balance by creating WeLax.

The Problem (Wednesday evening). Urban professionals who share co-working space in NYC face stress and look for ways to recharge without disrupting their workflow.

User Interviews + Contextual Inquiry at the WeWork HQ

Research (Wednesday evening — Saturday morning). We distributed a screener survey on social media, by e-mail, and reached out to professionals who use co-working spaces. We asked general questions about what professionals’ experiences have been, what they liked, what could be improved, and how they address moments of stress. We scheduled 6 interviews (out of 48 respondents) over the next day. We also decided to go straight to the source by conducting a contextual inquiry by visiting the WeWork headquarters and their Flatiron office to understand the current landscape. Our team was able to speak to 11 professionals who have used WeWork for as long as 3 years and as short as 3 months.

Research synthesis: reassessing the problem (Saturday). After reviewing all the rich data we obtained from our interviews, we went back to our preliminary research — looking at what corporations, startups and technology has done to address stress management in the workplace. From that, we put our heads together, drew key points from each interview and aggregated our data to elicit themes we heard people talk about (a.k.a affinity mapping — my favorite!).

Synthesizing Research: Affinity Mapping

Design Studio (Sunday — Monday). After our synthesis on Saturday evening, our team took 15 minutes to assess all the information, our problem, and our understanding of what possible solutions could be. We agreed to individually sketch and Skype the next afternoon to pitch our ideas, reviewed what we liked and wanted to move forward with, and conducted a virtual design studio.

The next day, our team met to work through a 3rd iteration of our idea with the hope to paper prototype, but we had to remind ourselves to go back to our problem and understand our personas we developed better too. The concept of personal management stress and the desire for constructive connecting within the WeWork community for professional growth were two points we wanted to address. We decided to prioritize features and started to focus on the individual professional — but then, we wanted to ensure that we specifically catering our solution to our users and the WeWork community.

Virtual Design Studio over Memorial Day Weekend

Tuesday — Wednesday (Technology Research). From Tuesday to Wednesday, our team solidified that we wanted to focus on some of the key insights we pulled from our user interviews: give WeWork members the option to have a time to themselves, “me” time or, an opportunity to connect with other WeWork members, “we” time.

“Me” Time and “We” Time. Once they select which time they would prefer, if they choose “me” time, they would have had the chance to either “go somewhere” with suggestions of places nearby, or have the option to read through inspirational content, funny videos, and more catered to their taste. If they selected on “we” time, the users would be able to select a location nearby and invite another WeWork member.

Google Calendar Plug-in. We initially thought a Google Calendar plug-in would be really helpful since taking a 10 minute break seemed to be a universal need from all user interviews. But, in usability testing, we found that users actually felt stressed when given the option to time their breaks.

Technology Research. We pitched our idea to the developers, who said the Google Maps API (for finding locations and activities nearby), Yelp API (for reviews), Timer API, and Google Calendar API were very feasible, cost-effective and easy to do. They mentioned that learning if WeWork has an OAuth authentication would be important to know to be able to connect WeLax to the WeWork network, which we still would have to find out from their team as this information was unavailable online.

Iteration 6 — We paper prototyped before going back to the digital wireframes. We found that this was more efficient and time and cost effective for our whole team to learn quickly to develop our next digital wireframe iteration.

We nixed “we” time because the developers said to hone our design in to be easy to execute and be simple. We also decided that the Google Calendar plug-in would be great, but people want to focus on taking their breaks in the moment usually. We validated these points when we reflected back to our user interviews. People know what they need to cope with their own stress — being able to share and connect within an environment to build community can be more challenging.

This statement is so true. We learned that if we keep it more simple, that’s the way to go. But, we only could get there after going through our research, iterating, and communicating our design to developers. It’s all about the design process.

Wednesday — Friday (Going back to the drawing board). After our meeting, we came together, fleshed out where we wanted to focus and discovered that our design would help WeLax users take a break, find a place nearby, and track how they feel through a medium as simple as emojis to be self-aware. Our goal would be to ultimately cater suggestions and understand needs to offer help in a timely matter and to also understand how each WeWork location and its population interact/take breaks.

Our team regroups to take the developers’ feedback into account and hone in on our design to develop our MVP (minimum viable product)

18 user interviews, 10+ usability tests, and 7 iterations later (Saturday #2). One of my teammates updated our digital wireframes and, I moved this into hi-fidelity, which was really interesting and fun for me. You have to have a lot of patience, not be completely attached to fun ideas you have, and be okay to let go during this process — it does not have to be perfect (okay, at least not right now). Here’s a little sample of what we’ve come up with (see below). To see the actual prototype, go here. Cheers!

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