In August of 2018, I joined a startup called HeronChat to work part-time as their lead UI/UX Designer. HeronChat is a mobile app that helps Filipinos find and apply for overseas jobs and connect with other current and aspiring overseas Filipinos.
The problem we at HeronChat were trying to solve was two-fold. Firstly, we observed that current and aspiring Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) had no good avenue to connect with each other, even if they wanted to. Secondly, we wanted to help current and aspiring OFW’s in their search for overseas jobs, given that the process was quite long and painstaking.
Based on these thoughts, we believe that a mobile app to help OFW’s connect with each other and apply for overseas jobs would be something worthwhile and profitable to venture into.
For the first version of our product, we focused on trying to solve the first problem first. To learn more about our target users, I went with our co-founder to a local agency. This agency helped process the paperwork of Filipinos who were going to work abroad, especially for domestic workers.
I prepared research questions, conducted the interviews, and took a few videos and pictures from the interview.
However, after this, I wasn’t able to do other forms of user research, as I was instructed by my boss (one of the co-founders) to focus on producing design deliverables so we can launch the app as fast as we could.
My role at HeronChat was to be the lead UI/UX designer and to also help in product management. It’s not really recommended for someone to do both of those roles, but since they needed help in doing PM, I offered to help out.
Over the 3 months I worked for HeronChat, I designed our landing page, designed most of the mobile app, and helped design the web dashboard to give to partner agencies to use. I also lead in keeping track of what our developers were doing, and doing some QA (Quality Assurance) on if their code matched our designs.
I had 1 co-designer with me in the startup, but she was trained in graphic design, so I helped mentor her to help me out with the UI design of the app and website.
Screenshots of The Product
Here are a few screenshots of my designs, starting with the landing page:
And here are some screenshots of the app’s design:
All in all, I was quite proud of the user interfaces I created, as it was my first time designing a mobile app from scratch. However, the startup as a whole chose not to launch the app, and we paused operations on this idea for now. The main reasons for this were because we:
- Received negative feedback about our business model
- Realized our service of helping overseas workers find jobs was a high-touch interaction, so it was labor-intensive and difficult to scale
- Didn’t perform enough user research and proper testing
All in all, there were two main lessons I learned from my time at HeronChat:
#1: In a startup, prioritize user research, assumption validation, and testing above coding new features.
#2: Don’t just build to please the boss or yourself — get regular feedback on your product and test it on your target users.
I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do from my time at HeronChat, and these will serve as valuable lessons for me in the future projects I work on.