Product Critique: A Good Note on Meetup app, iOS

How a great app like Meetup can be even better at least from my point of view and my own experience.

Meetup app

I’ve never done this publicly and I thought it would be nice to leave some good notes on one of my favorite apps. Don’t get me wrong, I love Meetup and I use it all the time not just to attend Meetups but I’ve organized/co-organised few myself. It’s some points on how a great app like Meetup can be even better at least from my point of view and my own experience.

If you’ve read How to do a Product Critique by Julie Zhuo, then you would be familiar with her style which I’ll be mostly following.


— Before opening the app

Q. How did this app come to your attention?

If I remember correctly it was when I came across dribbble and was looking for design communities in the area. Unlucky for me, there wasn’t any in my home city but my first time to attend a meetup was on my first trip to Amsterdam in 2014 when I used it to meet some locals to hang out with in their non-tourist spots.

Q. What’s your one-line summary of what this app does at this stage?

It’s a product to build casual communities and meet great people with similar or diverse interests either for entertainment, learning or sharing experiences.

Q. What’s the buzz so far?

Based on the first time I came across the app through dribbble which was popular and still is. If the dribbble folks are using it, then it must be popular. Now that I’m in Berlin, I personally use it to either connect with local designers or event organizers.


— Let’s peek into the app

I’ll go through the app and talk about my experience and how that can be better from my point of view.

Q. What’s the experience of getting started or signing up?

The journey to the home page is pretty much focused on building user’s profile. Meetup asks users to pick some interests and local groups. I can see the strategic importance of getting users invested in the core product offering immediately. That being said, it’s not so clear if the reward outweighs the time invested in such a long on-boarding.

Check below all the on-boarding steps:

Meetup iOS: on-boarding

📝 Good Note: I believe the on-boarding can be shorter and more rewarding. Usually, fewer steps would better the conversion.

  1. In step 2: delay asking for location permission until it’s relevant. I mean I don’t need a location permission to pick some categories and in some countries, it’s a privacy issue if it’s not properly explained, so maybe the app can ask about that after explaining the value of location permission to the user’s experience.
  2. In step 4: The second level of personalization in seems a bit too much. I would opt-in for in-context personalization. My profile should get better the more I use the app, so one level for a first launch would be fine which is step 3. Also, aesthetically after that beautiful category page in step 3, all I got are these OK-ish designed labels to pick from? maybe it can be visually similar to the previous page.
  3. In step 8: Ask for notification permission later. We live in an era where all apps are begging for our attention and I only enable a few of them. I still didn’t join any Meetup groups or RSVPed for anything, so maybe it’s irrelevant to enable that during the on-boarding.

This might be a very reduced version but here’s the idea: Only 3 steps with 1 permission for location. I would still try to explain more why location matter but hey, it’s just a concept. This version of on-boarding would rely on many post-in-context on-boarding techniques. A user would be asked to login/signup only when he wants to join a Meetup group which will require some changes on how the home page is built which will come later in the article. Also, ask for enabling push notifications only when I RSVP for an event. Personally, it feels more natural to ask at that stage because the user already showed an interest in something.

a very reduced version of on-boarding

Q. How does this app explain itself in the first minute?

First thing I see is a video of some people doing pottery and dancing. They are enjoying what they do and happy to do it together. Felt so emotional and nice to show that on the first app launch with the tagline “We are what we do” which is so accurate. I loved the logo animating and wiggling. It gives that friendly casual feeling as a brand, so they communicated that well to me.

Q. How easy to use was the app?

It’s well designed with a focus on strong typography. it looks aesthetically pleasing. On-boarding was a bit too long and the home stream after that long onboarding doesn’t really feel much rewarding.

📝 Good Note: On the first land, I see more white/empty space than anything else and it doesn’t really guide me to do something or explore much. I would recommend the following:

  1. Answering this question first: What do you want your user to do on the first app usage? Join a Meetup group or RSVP for an event? some guidance would help achieve a job.
  2. Put some Meetup recommendations to join/explore instead of just an explore button. I would keep it as a secondary CTA though.

Q. How did you feel while exploring the app?

I like the tab navigation and it puts what really matters close to me. One of the features I liked was, adding an event to my calendar for such a messy person like me works like a charm.

Q. Did the app deliver on your expectations?

yes, it connects my interests with events happening in the area.

Q. How long did you spend using the app?

well, since I’ve been using it for years I’ve got my own routine. I check it a few times a month to plan the events I wanna go to and add them to my calendar.

Q. What else would you improve/change?

Three things are most important to Meetup app, on-boarding, home page, and the event page. Converting people to RSVP and show up is what matters in any community and I feel it can be better.

Event Page

📝 Good Note: if I were an organizer I would want to have an event page that communicates well and drives members to my event. I would want it to be branded, clearly structured and attractive. I would do the following to make it better:

  1. Always show a title in the page’s header. I think for such a long page it’s kinda needed.
  2. The star? Try to explain and give feedback to the user’s actions. It took me a while to understand what it does and where to find a starred event. Currently tapping it doesn’t tell anything at all. Maybe a toast or some sort of indication about what to expect after tapping it.
  3. Bring a clear structure to the page. The part that has the event description is a bit messy and needs some defined sections. Clearly, in the figure above, the organizer is trying to emphasize on the agenda but that could be one of the defined sections. An agenda, who’s speaking and who’s sponsoring. I usually get myself lost trying to find if there’s an agenda or not and who’s actually speaking. The best one who did that by far was nvite.com — got acquired by Eventbrite. Their event page was built with well-defined sections and at the same time looked so good!

— After your first use of an app

I’ll try to be unbiased here, you know I’ve been using it for so long.

Q.How often have you used the app? When do you tend to use it? What compels you to open it?

I guess I’ve mentioned that earlier but I do it multiple times a month. who doesn’t wanna go have a laugh or meet some new folks either in town or if I’m traveling somewhere?

Q. How does this app compare to other similar apps?

it’s different. Can’t compare Meetup to any other apps. It’s the only casual one around that evolves around building local communities. Unlike Eventbrite for example which is more serious and expensive tickets.

Q. What do other people think of this app?

I usually get mixed feelings here especially from designers saying it’s hard to find legit events to learn from. In my opinion, designers just have high expectations. Maybe you didn’t learn but someone else did. isn’t that the point at the end?

Q. Based on all that you know, how successful do you think the app will be a year from now?

They were acquired by The We Company in 2017 so probably it’s going well. Check out the article from Wired about that acquire.


That’s everything I wanted to say & I would like to end with this quote:

There is no shortcut to developing better product instincts besides keen and close observation — Julie Zhuo

Thanks for reading. 👏 Clap it if you like it. You can learn more about me on my personal website