A UX-design sprint with Jane Kim for an established digital marketing intelligence platform geared towards small to medium sized business. Tools included Sketch, Axure, InVision, and Photoshop.
The challenge: How might we help novice marketers from small to medium sized companies meaningfully utilize and understand digital marketing intelligence tools?
Our solution: We designed an integrated learning and education platform within the existing platform that educates novice users about marketing while helping them implement marketing tools.
When Solomon, the CEO of Clickx, approached us about this project, their product had been live for about a year and had around 100 clients they were working with. He defined the audience of his product to be for small to midsize business, specifically calling out novice users who may have never used digital marketing tools before. They introduced a free trial version of their product online with limited functionality to help bring more users onboard. With a general understanding of UX design, Solomon saw an opportunity to implement design thinking into his platform to help improve usability for their users and raise engagement.
“I want the product to mean a lot to somebody instead of meaning little to everybody” – Solomon
Solomon elaborated on the state of users in the industry by drawing out this diagram for us and told us his current plan for growth was to expand the outside “awareness” circle, which would subsequently expand the middle “free” circle and inside “paid” circle.
With this, he handed off his platform with the assumption that potential users were not aware enough of digital marketing tools. He challenged us to dig deeper and help Clickx become a platform to bridge that gap.
In such broad context, we took a wide exploratory approach with two main assumptions in mind.
Potential novice users are not informed and educated enough about digital marketing intelligence tools to consider a using marketing intelligence platform.
Clickx is a tool that is geared towards helping novice marketers.
The first step for our team was to start empathizing with our users by getting out and start talking to them. We interviewed users that were mostly novice marketers from a wide variety of small to medium sized business. With so much input from people of different skills and experience, we organized our data by building out an affinity diagram to find a common patterns and insights from the users.
With our affinity mapping, we were able to group up commonalities and draw out insights to paint a story for our users.
User are aware of digital marketing tools. With its prominence in the business world they were all aware of potentially business benefit of using digital marketing intelligence. However, most users were unfamiliar with how to actually use them within their businesses.
“A lot of small business owners may be aware of these tools, but they just don’t know how to use them effectively” – Jeremy (Account manager at Clickx)
The barrier to entry into marketing is high. We found there was a steep learning curve, which made it difficult for novices to being using and learning. These users users were often unable to utilize these tools because they didn’t know how to start.
“The language would be difficult to understand for someone new to marketing and someone who is not a developer/SEO optimizer. I would want clear language and explanations. I don’t want to have to explain to others in my company.” – Mason (co-founder of GrowIt)
Novice users are wary to jump into a product without knowing the upfront value of a product. Although there are efforts to raise hearing wellness awareness in the music industry, the negative stigma of using hearing protection is very present.
“I want a resource that breaks down marketing into the easiest 10 steps for how people should get started. Only when you have a foundation of knowledge, can you make sense of data and utilize tools effectively.” – Shea (founder of Clueless App)
With these takeaways, we began to see a common narrative amongst our users, especially with the novices. Despite everyone being aware of digital marketing intelligence services and tools, our users collectively expressed how difficult it was to use and learn properly. And without this proper understanding of the product or service, these novice users didn’t see enough value to invest into these services. We then posed the question “Are there no services to help novice users learn about digital marketing?”
As we dove into the competitive landscape, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of players in the field. With products ranging from all-in-one platforms to specific feature driven tools, there seemed to be a tool for everyone. But as we dug deeper, we started to see general commonalities that spanned across most of the competitors.
Overabundance of platforms
The space for marketing intelligence tools was very saturated
Bias towards experienced
Nearly all services were geared towards users with significant experience
High barrier for novices
The barrier to entry was too high for novices due to overly complex content
With so many competitors leaning towards more experienced users, we found that Clickx aimed to be in a void where there were really no other players.
Without a formal onboarding process, SEMrush immediately prompts users into their dashboard without much prior information.
Hubspot Academy uses marketing jargon, which keeps novices users from understanding their options or information they are receiving.
From our research, we started to paint a clearer story of the pain points and common problems the users in the digital marketing industry were experiencing.
With this takeaway, we revisited and challenged an assumption our client made when we first started our project. In the circle diagram our client drew up for us at the beginning, he told us that by expanding the outside “awareness” circle, users would subsequently convert into the inner “free” circle. However what we found contradicted that assumption as most users were actually already aware of digital marketing intelligence tools. The main issue was that users were getting caught in the transition between the awareness and the free circle.
With this reframe, we began to draw out specific personas we saw that were being affected by the disconnect. Since our users were primarily novices, we opted to remove intermediate and expert marketers to focus down and focus on two types of novice users.
DRAWING OUT THE PROBLEM
Our goal at this point was to narrow down our focus on the problem we could design for. In an industry where we revealed a large disconnect, we realized how important it would be to pinpoint a clear and specific problem to ensure we were addressing the right users with a relevant solution.
Novice users are unfamiliar with how digital marketing intelligence tools can optimize marketing efforts and can ultimately grow their business. In addition, marketing intelligence platforms are not successful at explaining the product’s value in an efficient manner to beginners.
Novice marketers need a straightforward way to learn and take advantage of the benefits of digital marketing tools.
Alongside our problem statement, we outlined several design guidelines to help us keep our design solutions backed by the research and in scope of the problem.
Show me what matters to me
“I want to see if this tool can do one or two things better than what I currently use. That will get me in the door”
Lowering barriers of entry
Help me learn and feel confident
“Give terms a simple meaning, not technical writing, but more in normal speak.”
Tell me why I need this
“I want to see how I can benefit. I don’t have the time to figure out how it’ll benefit me. So show me.”
Show me how I can utilize this
“So with all this information and data, how can I actually use this to improve my business?”
II. Conceptualizing Ideas
By ideating through multiple rounds of brainwriting and finding inspiration from existing products, we highlighted what features were most important to address and had the potential to have high impact. We settled on the two approach ideas:
My teammate took lead in designing an educative approach for Clickx, focusing on the following divergent ideas:
Concept 1: Content & language
With so many users finding marketing language to be too complex, this concept aimed to alter the content strategy to provide a more simplified language approach away from industry specific jargon.
Users responded positively and found the simple and straightforward language to be informative and easier to digest.
Concept 2: Learn it, then try it
In conduction with educational modules, this concept aimed to allow users to learn marketing concepts and immediately give them an opportunity to apply them on their products.
Users responded positively to this concept. They liked that they could reinforce learned content through application.
Concept 3: Gamification
This concept aimed to create an enjoyable educational experience by creating gamified and rewarding incentives.
Users liked the gamification concept but commented that there was no context for it. They didn’t see the value now but said the idea could be revisited later.
I took lead in designing out a more hands-on approach to learning digital marketing. Seeing that some users enjoyed jumping right into a product, I explored options that were more interactive and utility driven. I took inspiration from onboarding process that many video games use where they introduce different elements and features through a guided onboarding process. I sought ways to create both engagement and familiarity at the same time.
Concept 1: Testing before signing up
Users were given the opportunity to test out specific features on the Clickx website before signing up and committing to the free trial. This was done to reduce the barriers of entry for novice users.
The general concept was positively received as it helped users understand how the product worked early in the process
Concept 2: Onboarding & Platform Walkthrough
Upon signing up for the free trial, the user were prompted with a set of predefined goals that would then help set their interactive tutorial guide their flow through the product in a meaningful and personal way.
While the marketing goals were found unnecessary, users responded positively to the walkthrough as it helped them understand how to use the platform.
Concept 3: Interactive tools to preview features
This concept was a function that allowed potential users to play with interactive tools that will preview and highlight how different functions from the full product will benefit user’s marketing before opting into the the trial.
The toys were negatively received as users were finding that the toys did not help them understand any added benefits.
As we took a step back after seeing these insights, we found that the two concepts addressed different needs for the users.
In addition to this, we noticed that users report that they wanted a mixture of both the “why” and the “how”. From here we decided to move forward with both.
“The value proposition to me is this: You don’t need any experience, we’ll teach you everything you need to know. Anyone can come learn marketing and get started.” – Logan Lenz (Director of Marketing at Parts Market)
III. Iterating and Converging
Our next step was to begin converging our concepts into a single unified product. With users desiring both concepts, it was on us to paint the fine line between having a product with two completely distinct features and a product with the features completely consolidated. We listed our pros and cons for both extremes. From there, we aimed to find a balance of the two.
In order to pinpoint how to integrate the two concepts, we we drew out a platform map to help us categorize features and pinpoint where we could provide users actionable options to utilize both the education feature and utility feature.
This map helped us breakdown the connection points between the two concepts. By having options to jump back and forth between the two, we felt users would be able to both learn and utilize their selected tools
With this, we were confident that our integration of utility and education was clear, and the two coexisted in a mutually beneficial manner. We moved forward to design our final prototype.
IV. Final Design
An integrated learning and education platform within a digital marketing intelligence platform product that educates novice users about marketing through courses and guidance while implementing digital marketing tools and strategies
With our converged prototype, we used our two personas, Angela and Daniel, to draw up two different user flows and showcased them to help our client empathize with his users and understand how they would potentially use the product.
Since Angela was a small business owner and an older less tech-savvy person, we saw that she would prefer to learn more about what to do before using the tool, so her user flow went as so:
Angela’s Task Flow
Daniel on the other hand was the more tech savvy learner, so we saw him to go directly to the walkthrough and be selective about the type of education he gets when confronted with a confusing concept. His flow went as so:
Our goal was to create a product to help novice marketers get their foot in the door to start learning about digital marketing intelligence tools. We aimed to lower barriers, and increase their understanding of the different services so that they could start implementing them with their work. With our different approaches with Angela and Daniel, we were able to hit common pain points such as a desire for an education resource and a means to provide actionable steps for novice users to make.
V. Next Steps & Recommendations
Our client was extremely pleased to see our final working prototype and validated our efforts in improving the experience for novices. He shared that he was in the works in building out an educational and learning platform and since has tasked a UI team to flesh out our designs.
Given our short time frame, I am extremely proud of what our team was able to achieve. Being able to uncover a strong and compelling user truth out of the experience was a powerful moment for our team and our client, and we were more than thrilled to deliver a validated and working prototype. However, with this short time frame, we were not able to address all the issues we came across. We compiled a list of recommendations to help our client continue their growth with a user-centered design framework.
Exploring gamification implications
As we look at ways to motivate users to take advantage of the Clickx Academy education resources, gamification may have to play a deeper role in the user’s experience. It was difficult to test gamification with users on a short time track due so further testing will be necessary.
Education content strategy
Further testing and exploration is needed to determine effectiveness of the current education content. User learning needs and styles, resource material, and curriculum planning best practices should be taken into account when exploring content strategies.
Development of free tool
It will be important to find that balance between offering a limited free tool and giving the user a comprehensive look into the platform.
VI. Beyond the project
What i learned
This project taught me to not be afraid to push back in the event of an unproven assumption. Working with such a willing client, it was satisfying to see how clear and research backed conversation could be extremely constructive and mutually beneficial. With our problem reframe, we were able to dive deep into the problem with validation from both our client and users. This added credibility to the decisions we made and gave our client reassurance that we were designing for both the user and business.