Frieder Reuter Logo

Omni is a mobile web application that provides reliable help and advice specifically tailored to the needs of creative freelancers in all areas of work related topics.

The application connects freelancers with experts that have specific knowledge in the freelancers field of work and can help solve their problems.

  • My Role
  • User Research
  • UX Design
  • UI Design
  • Branding
  • Tools
  • Usability Hub
  • Optimal Sort
  • Balsamiq
  • Adobe XD
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Background
  • Student Project
  • CareerFoundry
  • Duration
  • 6 months

Take a look at the prototype and feel free to click around.

The Challenge

The objective for this project was described as:
“Enable anyone, anywhere to instantly chat with an expert in virtually any field.”

Living in a city like Berlin with lots of freelancers in the creative field, I have many friends and colleagues who struggle with a related problem:
“Where can I get affordable help or advice for freelance specific work related questions?”.

The fusion of these brings me to:
“How to enable creative freelancers to instantly connect with an expert to get help for specific work related problems?”

Process

Understand & Observe

With a clear goal and challenge in mind, I had to get a better understanding about the approach of my competitors and the market environment including my suspected target audience and their needs and goals.

After conducting background research, which included a competitive analysis, a definition of the problem space, and hypothetical solutions, I conducted a user survey and several interviews with the target audience.

The outcome of the user research is the foundation upon which the design concept is built.

For every problem there is a solution

The discoveries from the research were used to formulate a concrete problem statement that addressed both business and user objectives. This problem statement lead to the creation of a hypothetical solution statement which functioned as the basis for my design decisions.

These statements were continuously refined throughout the process according to findings from user research.

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Problem Statement

Our users need a way to get quick, direct and affordable advice concerning their work as freelancers because they wish to overcome the problems they are facing in a fast, personal and efficient way.

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Solution Statement

An app that allows people to get help with specific problems in a variety of fields relevant to freelancers by either looking for an expert directly or by posting a problem to allow an expert with knowledge in that field to contact them.

User Interviews

With the problem statement on hand, I had a basic understanding of the market and the potential target audience.

Conducting surveys and user interviews with the expected target audience was crucial to better understand the users and their needs.

Research Goals

Identify the interest, frequency and goals of users interaction with expert advice services.

Analyse the user experience with online expert advice services.

Get a general understanding of what users expect from an expert app for freelancers.

Affinity Mapping & Key Insights

The interviews were recorded and analyzed afterwards. I used affinity mapping to organize the notes and to gain valuable insight into the study.

Conceptualize & Ideate

The user research helped me to gain valuable insight into the goals and needs of my target audience. Seeing how many freelancers struggle with finding valuable help proved to me that I was on to something with my concept.

With the useful feedback I received from the survey and interviews, I was able to approach the next step of the process and create an outline to illustrate the scope of the project.

Distilling the insights from the user research into user personas, journey maps, and flows helped to address the key issues the users are facing when looking for help and advice.

User Personas

The outcome of the user interviews and the survey formed the basis of User Personas - fictional but realistic portrayals of target users. The personas became very helpful to communicate user-centered design decisions made during the process.

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User Journey Mapping

Visualising a persona's journey towards accomplish their defined goals through the use of a user journey map helps in telling memorable stories which help to better understand the persona's needs.

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User Stories & User Flows

Analyze and map a user’s journey through the product to determine the required tasks for the completion of goals. Based on the goals and needs of the persona, this step helps to understand the persona’s objectives.

Paula

As a freelance product designer new in the field, I want to schedule a call with an expert, so that I can get advice for how to setup a contract with a client.

Liam

As a freelance filmmaker living abroad, I want to search for an answer in the community section, so that I can use the knowledge from the community to solve my issues with my client.

Magnus

As a freelance producer new in the field, I want to be able to contact my personal expert regularly, so that I can get help from someone who knows me and my situation.

Sitemap

Outlining the hierarchy and navigational structure to show the relationship between different pages by providing an overview of the project’s scale and by creating the first tangible output of the product.

Test & Iterate

After the navigational structure based on user insights was laid out, I started to delve deeper into the details of the layout of individual screens. Starting with pen and paper I developed the first wireframes of the application which gradually gained depth and fidelity throughout the process.

In the second step, I translated the paper sketches to mid fidelity wireframes using Balsamiq to further define the layout and structure of the screens.

Repeated iterations and loops later I had created a clickable high fidelity prototype that could be tested with real users in the upcoming usability test.

Wireframes

Developing an interface is a gradual process with constant loops and iterations. A good way to accomplish this is by starting with quick and basic wireframes and to add depth and fidelity throughout the process while constantly improving and testing the decisions.

The sitemap and user flows are the foundation on which the layout for the individual screens of the product were created.

Low Fidelity
Mid Fidelity
High Fidelity

Prototypes

In order to use the wireframes for usability testing, an interactive prototype that shows the functionality of the design was created. The prototype mimics the look and feel of the final product but has limited functionality.

Conducting Usability Tests

To measure and improve the usability of the prototype it is important to implement usability tests at an early stage of the process by using realistic tasks and users who represent the target audience.

With the interactive prototype on hand, Omni was tested with 6 participants of the key demographic.

Research Goals

The feedback on the test was analyzed to find similarities and reoccurring usability issues by using affinity mapping and the rainbow spreadsheet method.

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Learnability

Assess the learnability
of the app

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Satisfaction

Obtain feedback of overall satisfaction

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Errors

Find and analyze possible errors

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#1 Onboarding

Determine if onboarding information is understandable

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#2 Search Function

Observe the user flow of the search function and it’s ease of use

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#3 Booking Feature

Assess if users understand all steps of the booking feature

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#4 Community

Observe how users use and react to the community section

Usability Test Findings

The feedback on the test was analyzed to find similarities and reoccurring usability issues by using affinity mapping and the rainbow spreadsheet method.

Based on the outcome the prototype was improved and tested once again on peers to iterate and refine the design even further. This step can be repeated as often as necessary until the product appears to be faultless and satisfies the users.

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Issue #1 // high

Search screen is confusing & overwhelming

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Issue #2 // high

Sign Up screen was not clear enough

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Issue #3 // medium

Publish post as request function was not understood

Refine

The insights I gathered from the usability tests were highly valuable to improve the usability of the application. Staying in close contact with the target audience and potential users throughout the design process was crucial to keep their needs and demands in mind.

Getting closer to the final stages of the process it was time to prepare for the handoff to a development team. I created a design documentation and a design language system to communicate and explain the concept, layout and design features.

Introducing Omni the Octopus

The target audience of Omni are freelancers in the creative scene. While keeping older users in mind, the main focus is on younger people who are not yet experienced in working as a freelancer. Creating a playful and personal identity can enhance user engagement by reducing the fear of talking to an expert the user doesn’t know.

By creating a mascot for Omni it is possible for the user to build a trusting relationship with the product. Octopuses are famous for their intelligence and their skill of being adaptive to new environments – traits the users will expect from a product designed to provide knowledge and help suited to their specific needs.

Aligning Business Goals With User Expectations

Most of the feedback I received from the usability testing was highly valuable to satisfying user needs and improving application usability, thereby satisfying underlying business goals. However, some features highlighted a divide between user preferences and business objectives.

The challenge was to develop compromises which could satisfy the needs and wishes of both parties.

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User Engagement

Design Language System

A comprehensive design language system was developed to give clear instruction with examples which will help the developer to understand the concept and its application.

This greatly eases the transition between design and development.

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Final Iteration

The design of the screens was repeatedly improved and tested with various methods. Preference tests, peer reviews and accessibility guidelines all helped to create the final version of Omni.

You want to see more?

TRY OUT THE PROTOTYPE
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Learnings and final thoughts

#1 Trust your research

When approaching a new project, assumptions and initial ideas can contradict the results of the research phase. It can be hard to leave those initial ideas behind and fully focus on the goals and needs of your target audience in order to create a useful product.

#2 Always test your interview questions

The wording of interview questions can very much alter the outcome of the interview. Piloting the interview can be helpful in finding flaws or ambiguities in your questions.

#3 Regular feedback rounds

Scheduling weekly feedback rounds was essential in keeping the project on course. A new set of eyes can lead to surprisingly easy solutions you haven’t thought of.

#4 User flows are awesome

No matter the project, user flows (especially in combination with user stories) are incredibly helpful in determining the necessity of steps to fulfil a task. Visualising the steps in a clear and compelling way makes it easier to explain solutions to stakeholders.

#5 Encourage quick iterations

Producing output and testing it quickly and regularly improved the outcome in a more targeted and user focused way. This is a method I continue to embody in my workflow.