Exploring Networking for Small Business Owners— UX Case Study

The following case study is a part of design exercise for a startup in Bangalore.

I was given the task to design a networking tool for Small Business owners in India so that they can network better and run their business efficiently. As this is part of a UX exercise, all the assumptions were made by me instead of doing extensive research and conducting interviews with actual business owners.

Overview

My goals were to:

  1. Understand and identify the jobs required by small business owners to interact and increase their business network.
  2. Create and validate potential design solutions
  3. Showcase my thinking and design process

Jobs To be Done Framework (JTBD)

Let me give you a little introduction about JTBD. It helps in finding underlying jobs required to solve a problem rather than providing features. I think the this tweet will help more to understand what I am trying to convey.

I consider JTBD does a good job in finding the internal motivations why would someone hire a tool to solve their problem. People hire drilling machines to drill holes and not just own them. People hire lawn mower to keep their lawn clean and beautiful.

5 WHYs Framework

I also use an exercise of asking 5 WHYs to uncover the real motivation behind user intentions to use a product/service. You can learn more about this in the book Hooked by Nir Eyal.

  • WHY1 : Why would business owners want to have a single touch point for their business networks and contacts?
  • ANS: So they can interact better and grow their relationship.
  • WHY2: Why would they want to do that?
  • ANS: Because they like the quality of services provided by the business partners & contacts, and would like to continue doing business with their partners.
  • WHY3: Why do they want to do that?
  • ANS: To make sure they are above their competitors.
  • WHY4: Why do they need to know that?
  • ANS: To grow their business.
  • WHY5: Why would they care about that?
  • ANS: To make more money.

I am not surprised by the real motivation we just discovered. Every businessman wants to make money. Nobody wants to lose money. So if we design a platform where it helps business owners to make deals which will eventually help them make more money, I am pretty sure they will use the platform.

Before we start creating job stories, I would like to assume few characteristics a business owner should have (User Persona). Lets say Ram is a married 30 years old SMB owner who owns 2 restaurants in Bangalore.

  • Ram values time over anything.
  • Ram values quality over quantity. Ram wants to serve best food in Bangalore.
  • Ram travels a lot for business deals.
  • Ram maintains a healthy relationship with his trusted businesses.
  • Ram likes to have face-to-face interaction for any business deals.
  • Ram likes to meet new prospecting business partners that will help him growing his business.

Job Stories

Lets make higher level job stories and put statements with Ram as a user in mind.

  1. When I am looking to catch up with a business contact or travelling to another city where some business partners live, I want to set up meeting with them, so I can make my relationship more stronger.
  2. When I am free during the day, I want to meet new fellow entrepreneurs near by, so I can utilise my free time and grow my business network.
  3. When I am looking for new business partners in a particular field, I want to be introduced by a fellow contact, so I can make business deals with them.

Now that we have higher level job stories, we can design features by identifying smaller jobs which help resolve the high level job.

  1. When I am looking to catch up with a business contact, I want to set up meeting with them, so I can make my relationship more stronger.
  2. When I am looking to catch up with a business contact via the product…
  3. …I want to see my network and check if anyone is free in their schedule as I don’t want to bother anyone if they are busy.
  4. I also do not want to be bothered with meetings if I am not open for any meetings in that period. So I should have option of status to set my availability…
  5. …so both can avoid conflicts in interest which could eventually hurt business relationship.

Features list:

  • User should have the ability to make their status available or unavailable.
  • User can look into other calendar and set up meetings.
  • User can accept the meeting or modify and send back the updated schedule.
  • User can also invite other contacts to the same meeting (Group meeting).
  1. When I am free during the day, I want to meet new fellow entrepreneurs near by, so I can meet like-minded people and grow my business network.
  2. When I am free and looking for new like minded people to meet…
  3. I want to see genuine people with various business profiles near by, so that we can set up quick meeting…
  4. so that I can be more productive and grow my business.

Features list:

  • User profiles should be verified before they are able to schedule meetings.
  • User profiles with status available will be listed within a radius for meet ups.
  • User can chat and check their calendar to schedule meetings.

User Journey

Now that we have successfully identified features list from the job stories created above, I will create a user journey map. This exercise is suggested by Jake Knapp in the book Design Sprint.

User Flow

As the user journey implies, in the first version I want to make sure the primary use case is solved, which is user can set status, find its contact and schedule meetings.

Below is the user flow for the app.

Wireframes

High Resolution Image

High Resolution Image

High Resolution Image

Conclusion

I believe initial process of determining the real problems of users is key to a successful product.

Due to time constraint I did not prototyped every use case in the user flow. But I am sure I was able to present the underlying principles behind the design of the app.