Bloomsbury Beginnings (BB) is a small non-profit organisation offering training to individuals with big business ideas.
Students love the training courses on offer, but following graduation, lose momentum and focus. BB came to us for help to design a web-based app which would encourage student engagement during and after the course, in the form of a Member’s Area.
BB has an existing website but it is slow, uninspiring, and requires a refresh. The scope of this project also covered redesigning the homepage and subsequent course booking pages.
We undertook a single sprint consisting of the following stages:
Meet the team
We wanted to hear from both the business and the customer side to get a full understanding of the problem and opportunities. Methods used included:
- Client meeting
- Contextual enquiry
- Phone interviews
What we wanted to know:
Business side: what is the business, what are the current problems and who are the customers.
Customer side: what did they think of the course, what (if anything) was missing and what blockers they’ve experienced whilst setting up their businesses.
We included all feedback into an affinity diagram and organised into groups to identify themes.
Some of the key findings included:
- Students lack accountability post-course and end up putting off their ideas
- Time & determination / focus are the main reasons their businesses don’t come to fruition
- Peer networking and access to industry experts are the main reasons why people sign up to classroom-based training courses
- Customer base has traditionally been mums but client wishes to move into arena of young professionals
These findings enabled us to to propose some potential app features for both prospective and existing customers. We brainstormed with post-its and used ‘dot-mocracy’ to determine must-haves and could-haves:
- Clear course outline and booking process
- Business value proposition, to make it clear to customers what the company does
- ‘Meet our experts’
- Editable lean canvas (business plan)
- Tracking milestones / goals
We also carried out a competitor analysis, to understand more about the domain in which this app would operate in.
‘Hatch’ and ‘Digital Mums’ were the closest competitors, both of which we could learn a lot from. Though strong competition, neither offered the full range of features we were proposing.
From the research and understanding of the customer demographics, I created two personas; a young professional called Charlotte and a middle aged mum called Susan.
We planned to design the app to cater for both personas’ needs. We imagined two separate journeys; Charlotte is the prospective customer who has a sustainable business idea and would like to attend the course, and Susan is an past customer who would like to continue to engage with the BB community to progress her business idea.
We used Charlotte as our persona to create a storyboard.
- Charlotte is in a coffee shop, searching online for guidance on how she can turn her new vegan cosmetics business idea into reality. She feels very lost.
- She finds Bloomsbury Beginnings and likes what she sees. She books onto the course.
- She attends the course and in the process, creates her business plan
- Charlotte is part of a community of people going through the same struggles as herself and she feels great!
- Once graduated, Charlotte uses the BB app to communicate with the community — she offers help to another member as well as asks for help on a challenge she is facing.
User Journey Map
Now that we had an idea about potential features and understood who the user base was, I created a user journey to pinpoint the touch points that either Charlotte or Susan would have with the BB app. This map encompasses the entire journey, from the initial business idea to continued engagement with the BB community post graduation. This really helped me visualise at what stage each feature would aid the user.
With regards to the Members’ Area, a couple of the main features were:
- During the course, the user could use the editable lean canvas feature to update their business plan at any point. This could also be shared for feedback.
- Post-course, the user could use the forum to communicate with peers and experts, and use the goal setting feature to keep track of their progress.
I created two user flows for the course booking and lean canvas processes.
The visual design was spearheaded by the UI designers in the team. We worked closely with UI, giving feedback on each other’s work and sharing research findings.
The colour palette we used compliments the professional yet supportive and nurturing culture of BB. The powerful pink colour was chosen for the CTAs, to contrast with the pastel colours and to direct user’s attention on certain actions on the screen.
The logo gives the feeling of ‘growth’ and represents business ideas coming to fruition.
It was time to get ideas down on paper! We began with lo-fi paper drawings — I was responsible for the course booking, forum and goals pages. As a team we met to show-and-tell our ideas, and followed this up by digitising what were the strongest drawings at the time.
Using the mid-fidelity interfaces, we conducted paper and digital testing with a combination of 6 potential and past customers.
The method of testing was structured; I identified the scope of the test and gave the user specific objectives. I took notes on their interactions with the prototype and noted all feedback.
I gave the testers the following tasks:
- Book onto the ‘Grow your idea’ course
- Update your existing business case (lean canvas)
- View your goals and add a new goal
- View upcoming events
Throughout the testing we asked the testers to tell us what they could see, as well as what activities they believe they would do on that screen if it was fully functional. This helped us to identify any content that wasn’t clear.
What they liked
- Homepage — clear overview of the course options leading to a simple checkout process
- ‘Connect’ forum — great to see what content is trending and popular, and to be able to search categories
- Canvas — easy to read and input info into the canvas, loved how it could be shared!
What could be improved
- Events were a priority to testers and they found it difficult to locate the events page, so we moved it into the nav bar.
- Wording ‘Tasks’ or ‘To-do’ in the nav bar wasn’t clear given the intention of the screen behind it, so we changed it to ‘Goals’.
- Top tabs on the forum page removed as the pitching feature deemed undesirable
We made revisions, referenced research and retested throughout the testing phase.
The final high-fidelity prototype can be found here!
Given more time we would look to add more personalisation to the Member’s Area, to encourage sustained use. We would also mock-up wireframes of the ‘Events’ and ‘Messages’ areas. A feature requested during testing was to allow members to directly arrange their own meetings within the app — I would therefore look into the feasibility of this with the client.
Bloomsbury Beginnings (BB) has a great reputation and community vibe which really sets them apart from other training providers. They put support, trust and openness at the core of their business model and it really shows from the unanimous positive customer feedback.
We’ve created a new platform on which speculative students can learn more about BB and easily book onto a course, and where current & past students can continue to connect with each other and drive their business ideas forward into something real and exciting. I wish BB the best of luck and hope they continue to turn business dreams into reality!