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Case Study

Co.Create

UX Strategy, Branding,UX Design, & Product Design
In the age of social media, it is easy to think that platforms like Instagram are the pinnacle of digital sharing and content making. There needs to be a place where artists can make deeper connections rather than pleasing an algorithm.

Creatives should not have a hard time making meaningful connections or collaborations.

Case Study

Co.Create

UX Strategy, Branding,UX Design, & Product Design
How might we make an app that incorporates all skill levels, encourages creatives, and fosters communities?

By working with my partner Morgan in the research and development phase, we designed and executed an app that utilizes core functions indicative of our research and problem-solving.

Case Study

Co.Create

UX Strategy, Branding,UX Design, & Product Design
Over the course of a few months, we dedicated our time to meticulously crafting the final Co.Create product.

Our goal was to target the pain points of the creator community and leverage our design skills to overcome current social media algorithms.

The end result was a multi-page prototype that included communities, moodboards, daily prompts, and much more.

Title

UX Designer

Illustrator

Branding specialist

Timeline

August 2020-November 2020

Skills

User Research

Interaction Design

Illustration

Tools

Figma

Invision

Adobe Suite

Background

In the age of social media, it is easy to think that platforms like Instagram are the pinnacle of digital sharing and content.​

However, as a creative and problem solver, I find this to be untrue. From beginner to advanced artists, many find themselves having trouble connecting with collaborators and like-minded individuals. In the last few years alone, creatives on social media found themselves losing connections, having trouble keeping up with the daily trends, and finding it harder to enjoy their craft.​ Now, more than ever, there needs to be a place where artists can make deeper connections rather than pleasing an algorithm.

With the help of my partner Morgan, we made Co.Create, a platform that defies past social media logic by standing at the intersection of collaboration, learning, and creation. Through meaningful communities, daily prompts, connections, and mood board creation, Co.Create encourages all creatives to navigate their careers and hobbies, whether it be personal or professional.

Discovering the problem
We want to understand the space through research, personas, and insight.

Creatives should not have a hard time making meaningful connections or collaborations.

Research

Online Research and Desk Work

With the progression of digital media, past art communities have gradually become obsolete. Platforms like Tumblr and DeviantArt, once artist favorites, lost their appeal due to outdated designs, spam, and declining communities. Artists then turned to social media platforms to streamline content and connect with specific audiences. However, this approach eventually failed, leading to a constant posting demand without fair recognition for the extra project efforts, not to mention algorithmic biases (Kelsey Ables, artsy.net).

Despite all of this, a silver lining emerges. Co-Matter's report indicates the onset of a Post-Social Media Era. While the Social Media Era emphasized "hyper-personalization" and the loss of "collective experiences," the new era strives for fewer, more meaningful connections.

To further look at and define our problem, we sent out surveys to close friends and strangers to better understand creatives' habits. We interviewed teenagers, hobbyists (frequent Instagram users), art community leaders, and young professionals.

Takeaways

What Did We Learn?

Social media algorithms are the worst

"Today, sharing art on social media is like running on a treadmill forever. It's very tiring with nowhere to go."

-Kelsey Ables

Creatives are shy and don’t make connections easily

"It’s important to find your peers that are going through the same thing you are so you don’t feel too lonely and don’t give up...be honest with everyone, know where you stand, and know what the community is about."

-Bee (Co-Founder of Panimation)

Social media algorithms are the worst

“You can find community in these online spaces but if you don’t curate those well in order to really serve your who and then follow through with your why, then it can just turn to an utter shitshow…”

- Han Ju (ACN Founder)
Building our Personas

Meet Shy Suzy

Suzy is a 15 year old high school student with a passion for art. They want to showcase their art online in order to grow as an artist, but they are self-conscious about their work.

Core Needs:

  • Able to easily reach out to and communicate with online artists

Goals:

  • Improve as an artist, find an art style, and be a part of a community

Pain Points:

  • Nervous to reach out to people online and make new connections
Personas

Meet Busy Blake

Blake is a full-time professional freelance creative. They want to expand their portfolio by creating projects outside of their usual work.

Core Needs:

  • Needs a separate personal and professional account

Goals:

  • Would like to network and make connections from different creative backgrounds

Pain Points:

  • Receives a lot of spam and has difficulty maintaining online relationships
Defining our Product
How might we make an app that incorporates all skill levels, encourages creatives, and fosters communities?

We used a variety of methods such as MoSCow, card sorting, and maps so we could be as innovative as possible.

Competitors

Who Are We Up Against?

In addition to interviewing competitors and creating personas, we looked at what features made other digital platforms successful. It helped define what Co.Create needed.

Organizing

Utilizing the MoSCow Method

We then decided to organize our thoughts by sorting potential features into “Must Have,” “Should Have,” “Could Have," and "Won't Have" categories.

We wanted to include all the “Must Have,” “Should Have,” and “Could Have” features. To us, these were the most important pillars of our community.

01
Must Have:
User Profile, Filters, Chats, Groups, Privacy
02
Should Have:
Feed, Art Prompts, Spotlight Profiles, Collabs
03
Could Have:
Video Tutorials, Articles, Popular groups, Browse

We found out that "Job Boards," "Stories," "Close Friends," and "Reposting" went against our beliefs. It would restrict users from meeting new people and influence them to stick with their current connections. These are the traps of the current social media model, and we wanted to stay away from them.

Organizing

Implementing the Card Sorting Method

After figuring out which features we wanted to include, our next steps were to use a method of card sorting to find which features should be on which page. We sent out cards to fifteen people and had them organize them based on what they believed.

One of the most important things we noticed during our card-sorting experiment was that people wanted to see features associated with seeking new groups on the Communities Page. But when it came down to more personal things like Your Groups, Personal Browsing, and Recommended Profiles, people preferred them on the Home Page. Therefore, we decided to take the liberty of putting other features like Your Saves and Your Daily Prompts there too.

Planning

User Journey to Low fidelity

By using the information we received from card sorting, we created a sitemap, including all our features and their pathways. This map subsequently informed our decisions for low-fi iterations and the first Co.Create pass.

Designing the Solution
Through product defining, word associations, and illustrations, I designed around our personas.

We identified our products voice through research.

Design Strategy

Branding Mission

To initiate the design phase, I used insights gathered from the individuals I interviewed to establish characteristics that would steer the design process.

These characteristics then became five adjectives and a mission statement.

01
Age
People from the ages of 13+ (Focused interest on 18-30-year-olds).
02
Gender
Anyone!! As long as you are a creative that wants to learn from others and collaborate.
03
Skill Level
All are welcome!! There are groups and communities for all skill levels.

I want the design to make Co.Create look like an INCLUSIVE app that is also a SAFE space with UPLIFTING and FRIENDLY imagery that INSPIRES its users to collaborate.

Adding Color

Branding Guidelines

To achieve the personality I defined, I made style choices that would closely align with the identity of the brand. By defining the palette, I found a stylistic direction that would drive the high-fidelity screens.

Ideating our App
Introducing Co.Create

The final designs of our product. We went through a few iterations to reach our final product.

Onboarding

Onboarding introduces you to Co.Create. You are able to add privacy settings and tags to make your experience unique.

Home Screen

The Hi-Fidelity Iterations informed me a lot about the design decisions. From here, I was able to figure out formatting and spacing throughout the app. It was important to keep consistency and see if the font and buttons fit all together.

The Home Screen acts as the users hub. Here, you can access your prompts, saves, and moodboards.

Community

The Community page is a place to browse and curate your community. Check updates and search for friends.

Profile Page

The Profile page is a place for you to edit your bio and chat with friends.

Test
To test our prototype, we made a series of tasks for each user to complete.

These tasks were designed to test the most important features and find out if our design was intuitive.

User Testing Tasks

01
Make a profile
02
Pick a prompt
03
Save a post
04
Find a Poet
05
Create a group
06
Access feeds
07
Access features

Find a Poet

To find a poet, we were anticipating a lot of indirect successes. We were glad to see that users were finding different ways to access a profile. Some people found it through groups, while others used the search bar or browse functions.

2 Direct successes
8 Indirect successes

Save Post to a Moodboard

The Save Post to Moodboard task had a mix of different successes and failures. Some people found that there were too few ways to access the mood boards. Others were trying to access it from the feed.

3 Failures
2 Indirect successes
5 Direct Successes

Pick a Prompt & Create a Group

Finding the Daily Prompts page and Creating a Group page were the most successful tasks. Users thought these pages were the most intuitive. We were happy to see this because those were the most thorough of our features and functions.

10 Direct successes

Reiterate
Drawing conclusions and making revisions

Based on our testing, a few changes were made to existing designs to enhance its usability. Here are the two most significant changes we've implemented:

I learned many things when developing Co.Create, especially when I was challenged and had to make decisions. One of the most important lessons I learned was that it was more important to listen to my survey results and design around my personas. By doing so, I was able to figure out that by filtering through feedback and factoring accessibility, the app started to have a more cohesive feel that was better for the user. 

Overall, the concept of Co. Create is a strong idea that could progress the future of collaboration and creation. With our approach and thorough research, it is a problem that can be solved. By meeting Morgan at a creative mixer and collaborating on this project, it is evident that good collaborators out there, and together, we want to make it more accessible to other inspired creatives.

See the prototype
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