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.
My goals were to:
- Understand and identify the jobs required by small business owners to interact and increase their business network.
- Create and validate potential design solutions
- 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.
Lets make higher level job stories and put statements with Ram as a user in mind.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- When I am looking to catch up with a business contact via the product…
- …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.
- 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…
- …so both can avoid conflicts in interest which could eventually hurt business relationship.
- 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).
- 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.
- When I am free and looking for new like minded people to meet…
- I want to see genuine people with various business profiles near by, so that we can set up quick meeting…
- so that I can be more productive and grow my business.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.