Using design thinking to help the world meet start-ups, not just their products
A quick note from me
I found my first ever internship through AngelList so I was excited to come back to the product as a more trained designer and give it a look through.
Since I had first used the AngelList in perhaps 2013, their interface design has changed dramatically. The use of color and hierarchy gives the site a more professional and modern tone, which is exciting.
However, it was important to me to not just redesign AngelList to do the very typical thing of “adding white and pretty fonts”. I wanted to push beyond the visual design and see if there were opportunities to enhance the user experience.
Companies would be able to select 3 to 4 from 7 questions to display on their posting. They would have a character maximum to keep their answers short. This process would be quicker than the creation of the large text blurbs they utilize now and be more personal
I based the answers to the icebreakers off what was on the company's website!
Area of opportunity!
to see if my design clarified the information
to see if my design made a difference
thank you so much for reading
learn more about me here
In order to get a better understanding of the UX, I spoke with three users of Angel List!
Recent college graduate, who currently works at a start-up and used AngelList when discovering start-ups in his area. However, also used other sites to connect with people at the start-ups he was interested in to learn more about their company.
Finished her masters 4 years ago, no longer works at a start-up but did in the past and had applied the start-up through AngelList. While she believed in the product, she ultimately left the start-up because she disagreed with the CEO on many critical issues. She wished she had done more research on the CEO's values before joining.
Currently enrolled in college and is excited to work at a start-up after graduation. She has used AngelList to find start-ups but tends to also look at their social media to see if she can meet the team. She predominately uses AngelList to see if there is a new start-up she would be interested in but only occasionally applies through the site.
It was clear from the conversation that users place knowledge about the people at a start-up at high priority. Austin in particular had an powerful quote which summed up this insight:
"Startups are 90% people, 10% the idea. If I don’t get along with the people, and the people don't get along with one another, the product is destined to fail"
At first I was surprised, so I decided to speak with a friend of mine named Jacob who had interned at the venture capital, 8VC, last summer, Jacob explained to me that the investors he worked with spent most of his time managing the teams at the start-ups rather than focusing on the actual product.
When I followed up with Austin, Julie, Bianca about the sense of team and community they get from AngelList, they all had a similar answer that it is hard to tell what people are like online.
Sure, that is fair.
However, in a world of dating-apps, it is clear that we are getting better making judgment calls online. So, I decided for this exercise to explore if it is possible to give users a better sense of “90%” of a start-up on Angel List.
How might people be able to better understand the 90% of a
start-up on Angel List?
I looked at Angel List to see how it approached the community aspect of the start-up. Information on community and people are present! However, the information took on the form of blocks of generic text composed of predominately buzzwords.
No wonder, users did not feel like they still understood who the people were.
This is of course not to blame the start-ups either. With the fast-paced nature of these companies, it is understandable that they did not have more than 15 minutes to fill out the cultural and personal aspects of their posting. However, as a result, users are not getting to see 90% of them. Companies did post more personal information on their personal websites, yet that once again meant that users were leaving AngelList to get information.
I feel like its a bit of cliche in the design world to use Tinder and Hinge for inspiration. However, in this case, I really felt like it applied. While people may never get to know a person online, they can tell who they would not get along with.
Everyone is more confident about their swipe rights than their swipe lefts.
Perhaps I cannot help people find the perfect team, but I can help them eliminate which ones did not share their values.
I decided to explore what could exist instead of blocks of text answers and would better depict a company’s values.
As I explored, I asked myself the following questions:
Is there a way that a team’s personality can shine through more?
Is there a way that a user could get a general understanding without having to read over a paragraph of text?
How do I show individuality more and avoid generic responses?
Let's Break the Ice!
I decided to transform the generic blocks of texts into a few simple questions that indicate the company's values. While the information is short, it is actually relevant. Rather than a bunch of generic buzzwords words, users get to see have a bit of an "ice-breaker" with the company. Of course, they will not know if the team is perfect, but they can definitely tell if the team aligns with their work philosophy.
I conducted some user testing, specifically A/B testing, to ensure this addition was an improvement to the existing site. I showed 8 participants two images.
The first image was the design mockup for the posting I created that used the icebreakers.
The second image was an altered version of the original posting. I changed the name and the "product" bio slightly to give it the appearance that it was another mental health start-up similar to Quartet.
I also removed the logo and product description to eliminate possible confounding variables
After showing participants the images, I asked them three questions:
1. Which start-up do you think you understand the most?
2. What differentiates the two start-ups?
3. Describe each start-up with one word
The results validated my designs!
13/13 participants felt like they understood the start-up in the first image the best
Participants described the "start-up" in image one to hold values that "cherished workers", "caring", while the start-up in image two was described as "medical", "healthcare". It was evident that not only did my design choice made a difference but since participants were able to use more specific than generic words to describe the start-up, they were getting a clearer picture of the start-up's values.
AngelList does an awesome job at showing the 10% of a start-up (the product, the funding, etc). Yet, users do have to a bit of digging to understand who the team is which is 90% of a start-up. When working in such an intimate setting like a start-up, you cannot just ignore the importance of the people and their values. While the addition is small, I think it will help users get a better understanding of the teams at the start-ups on AngelList.
I will admit my design choice was not the most revolutionary aesthetically, but my gaol for this project was not a visual design edit. I wanted to see if I could improve the user experience in one small way and I think I was successful.