Meetup is widely used to help organize like-minded individuals into groups with the goal of an in-person meeting. Something that started as a social tool for hobbyists has developed into a more formal following for industry related events and meetings. Meetups are no longer only taking place in bookstores or apartments but are budgeting for venues like WeWork spaces to host larger events. For Meetup organizers the current app enables creating and managing their groups but when a venue for an event is needed they‘re forced to look elsewhere.
Feature Design: Limitations, Parameters, Resources and Materials
The brief for this project was for the team to incorporate a new feature into the Meetup app that would allow for Meetup organizers to connect with venues to host their events. The timeframe of 1 week was given to complete a high-fidelity and user-tested prototype. The first part included an initial survey to screen for potential interviewees, followed by 1:1 in-person interviews, lo-fi wireframe sketches and a mid-fidelity prototype in InVison to conduct the first round of testing.
What were we looking to solve?
When Meetup Group Organizers require a space to hold their gatherings they need to search for a venue on their own. Likewise, businesses that would like to host a Meetup group need to find and reach out to organizers directly.
How might we help connect the Meetup organizers to willing hosts through the Meetup app in order to simplify and streamline the process for both parties?
To begin our research, a screener survey was sent to a large network of friends, friends of friends and colleagues. The goal was to speak not only with the average Meetup user but more importantly to obtain feedback from Meetup group organizers. The focus of the interview questions were pain-points that organizers deal with and the issues that venues encounter when hosting a Meetup group.
By the numbers:
• 39 responsed to the survey screener.
• 13 qualified persons were interviewed.
• Interviews were split between 7 group organizers and 6 venue owners.
Interview Findings » Personas
Three personas emerged from the synthesis of the interviewee feedback. Meetup organizers face many challenges when booking a venue. Large and small venues have mostly the same issues with hosting Meetups but each bear their own specific problems as well.
Findings — Organizers:
- Searching venues takes a lot of time. Organizers put feet to the pavement and visit the space to check the amenities and speak with the staff in person.
- Transparency is a big issue. Meetups rarely have a corporate budget and a lack of firm price points make negotiation difficult.
- Communication with the host is key, some organizers had a venue drop them last minute.
Findings — Hosts:
- Venues stated that Meetups were seldom as committed as corporate events.
- Communication was a big pain point from their point of view as well.
- Larger venues have revenue quotas, since there is less incentive for Meetup members to show up to the event, they tend to pass on those bookings.
- Small venue owners insisted they need to know their client, issues had arisen in the past with groups being rowdy or unruly. Small venues often don’t have the staff to deal with those kind of problems.
How might we help connect Meetup organizers to well-reviewed willing hosts and connect hosts with verified and committed Meetup organizers?
Sketches & Design
In brainstorming the design we used the MoSCoW method (depicted on left) to really focus on the features needed to meet our Personas’ goals and needs.
Based on the key pain points, priority was assigned to features such as search functions, chats, and reviews.
Research takeaways led to iteration in design:
- Difficult to find space → Search function & venue reviews.
- Need for clear idea on price → Price filter in venue search.
- Communication → Chat ability.
- Venue profit guarantee→ Price filter in search and deposit receipt from groups.
- Professional/trustworthy groups → Meetup group Reviews
Usability Tests and Resulting Iterations
At some point there had to be an agreement on how the new feature fits within the existing Meetup app. Since the testers wouldn’t be navigating from the original app in the first round of testing, we focused on three key tasks that tackled the pain points from the data collected.
Even though the usability tests proved to be successful in their completion the way each task was completed caused some concern. A lot of the testers fumbled with navigation and ran into the same issues again and again:
“I was looking for the reviews to be in the account page.”
Difficulties seen during testing:
Finding pending booking requests (3 out of 4 had difficulty)
Lack of a central page (3 out of 4 searched for a home page)
Finding reviews (extensive navigating to get there in 2 out of 4 testers)
The Need for a home page: The first prototype launched on the search page and none of the testers had issues completing the first tasks for a search. Navigating to the additional tasks from there proved more difficult. Testers were trying to find a central page to navigate to and from. Each tester clicked around the navigation bar, checked the “M logo” button as well as the profile button, expecting to find a home page.
Re-itertion and 2nd round of testing
The regular Meetup tab bar was too confusing for the new feature build. The bar was therefore changed in our next iteration. Once the user switched to a Meetup organizer or a venue owner the “M” icon was replaced by Messages and a Home icon, a dashboard all the testers seemed to be missing, was added.
Re-testing with 5 users:
•The new home page: (4 out of 5 testers in round 2 used it as designed).
•Reviews for Task 3 became much easier to find (4 out of 5 testers found them easily).
- Searching and securing a venue (Task 1 and 2) became very easy (4 out of 5 testers were able to do so very quickly).
Conclusions from testing for the second time: Although successful progress was made with changes in the tab bar, users made some different navigation choices in other parts of the test. The following issues need to be addressed in the next iteration:
Issue 1 — Searching for organizers (5 out of 5 did not use search icon in the tab bar that were used in initial tests)
Issue 2 — Locating booking requests (3 out of 5 could not find booking requests as they now used the “Events” button in the homepage exclusively and did not check reminders for bookings requests)
Next Steps + Reflection
Next steps for the project:
- Make the search button more prominent on home page. In the second round of testing we found users forgo the tab bar search and gravitated toward the home page. A feature to search events on the home page may remedy the issue.
- Add more detail on venues and groups — many users wanted to see more detail on both venues and groups in the searches. The detail pages have now been added in the final prototype.
- Add more detail on collecting and sending deposits — testers wanted to see how much their deposits amounted to; we will work on a detailed invoice page prior to sending/receiving deposits.
After speaking with interviewees and then with testers it seems evident there is a real need for some of these new features on Meetup.com app. Overall the project was an exciting exercise in feature prioritization and great exposure to cooperative work in iteration and design. Initial findings led to the resolution of navigational problems and created a brand new dashboard for the user. The 2nd round of testing revealed that certain solutions could lead to other small problems that may need to be tackled in following iterations.