NextStep

Client Work
Product Design
Branding

Creating a personalized team of mentors for people trying to further their career

Team
The founder, Product Manager, and Software Engineer

My Role
Product Designer

Tools
Figma, Illustrator, Photoshop, Whimsical, and Webflow

Timeline
March - August 2020, 6 months

Deliverable
Marketing website and product launch

Design Brief

Making a career change in today’s professional world requires access a proper network. In many cases, even if people have access to a network, some still struggle with a career change due to the lack of focus / direction, confidence in their abilities, and their ability to sell themselves to potential employers. NextStep is a startup that wants to solve this problem and empower people to own ‘what they want to be’ by providing a one-stop-shop of engaging career resources.

I was brought onto the team (remotely) in order to lead all UX research efforts, advise in creating the current business model, lead all design efforts of the main web app, establish Nextstep's brand identity, and create an engaging marketing website.

Outcome

An engaging web app that is now currently being tested amongst beta testers.

Created a responsive website that showcases NextStep's mission, brand identity, and product (Built through Webflow).

Interested in My Design Process? 

Click to show more, or scroll to view the final product.

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Phase 1: Research

Analyzing the Market with a Competitive Analysis

With NextStep’s mission on the forefront of my mind. I began to lead the teams research efforts, in order to allow us to gain a better understanding of the current market and identify possible gaps in the market.

When looking at possible competitors we, as a team, decided to focus on companies that provided career coaching services along with a variety of other career resources.

The result: Amongst the few competitors, most were not transparent with their pricing, had expensive coaching rates, and had little to no reviews.

Conducting 15 User Interviews with Users & Career Coaches

In order to gain a better understanding of who exactly our users are, my team and I were able to remotely interview 10 potential users and 5 career coaches.

Through these interviews, we were able to learn more about how users currently feel about their career path and career related issues they are facing.

My head is in the place where I want to grow, but I have no one to look up to right now.
- Sports Project Manager
"My head is in the place where I want to grow, but I have no one to look up to right now"
People keep saying 'you're doing great... keep networking,' but I feel like I am missing a key ingredient.
- Marketer
"My head is in the place where I want to grow, but I have no one to look up to right now"

Define

Summarizing Our Findings & Defining the Problem

These research insights boil down to three main challenges:



  1. Users feel lost when it comes choosing a career path - they need to learn techincal skills to help them prepare for their future roles
  2. Users feel unconfident in their technical skills - they need the ability to track their success / failures throughout the job search
  3. Users are frustrated at the lack of feedback during their job search - they need a reliable coach with similar background who they are comfortable asking for help

In order to give the team a point of reference to use throughout the product development cycle I created a persona that highlights one key segment within our target audience: people whom are transitioning careers

Ideate

Using a Journey Map to Plot the Ideal Path Users Take

I then created a User Journey Map in order to get a better understanding of what thoughts and emotions users might go through.

As a result, this helps me identify possible opportunities where NextStep can make a positive impact on the user throughout their usage of our product.

Task Flow

At this stage of the design process the founder told me that through several years of research she compiled a list of worksheets that she created that would help users identify their intrinsic motivations and career goals. These worksheets can be found here

With this new set of information I created this task flow in order to help me understand how exactly a user will go through these activities and gain a better  understanding of themselves and their career goals.

High-Fidelity Wireframes

After some informal testing with a handful of users, it was now time to add color / styling and create the high-fidelity wireframes.

Because a lot of the heavy lifting was already done in the mid-fidelity version in regards to visual hierarchy etc. this process had a relatively quick turn around time.

Branding

Early on in the design process, the founder and I was also working together on creating a branding document. During this time we secured the name NextStep and decided other branding assets based off the branding attributes the founder wanted.

The colors were chosen based on the idea of NextStep being a fun engaging brand that will help users make positive changes in regards to their professional life.

Creating my first design system

After spending months reading. I discovered the importance of having a detailed design system. This not only alleviates a lot of miscommunication that could potentially happen when working with developers, but also makes it easy in case another designer would join the team.

Iterate

Usability Testing in the Upcoming Beta Launch

Although additional research and testing is always preferred when it comes to building products. I realize now, that when working with real world stakeholders, sometimes as a product designer, I will have to make compromises. In this case, my team and I have agreed to hold off on usability testing and revisions until our upcoming beta launch.

As this project continues to develop, I will be updating this case study in order to provide updated information on our testing results and what key insights we were able to discover.

Next Steps

Currently I have been spending the past several weeks working closely with the developer, in order to ensure the hand off process goes as smoothly as possible.

After our initial beta launch, I will be conducting a series of usability testing in order to identify how users currently engage with our product and identify areas of improvement.

Reflection

After looking back at my time and NextStep I realize how much I have learned working with small dynamic team and building a product from early conception to launch. I believe experience can be boiled down to 2 main points.

Not everything will go according to plan
It was very early on in this project that I realized no matter how well you plan, something will always come up to throw you off your tracks. As a designer I would love to always go through the product design cycle of research, ideate, design, test, and iterate. However, I realize that may not always be the case when working with real world investors and stakeholders. As a designer we have to be flexible and come up with compromises that appeal to the business but also the users.

Consistent communication is key
While I knew that communication was going to play a very important role when it comes to working on a remote team. Something that I learned was the level of communication that was needed.

Throughout my time working at NextStep we constantly ran remote meetings sometimes last minute in order to solve an problem that needed our immediate attention.