Freelancers, especially those starting out in the field have expressed dissatisfaction and discomfort with the setup process, making it a difficult field to make a living out of.
With the lack of a standardized method, freelancers find it difficult to engage the client into the creative process which brings about difficulties when trying to communicate with them and setting expectations to both themselves and the clients.
Introducing Parallel, a new way to collaborate for freelancers and clients with a focus on mutual accountability.
The product of this project comes as a new way to collaborate both flexibly and intuitively.
To fully understand both sides of the same coin, Parallel aims to bridge the gap between creatives and their clients by clearing up the ambiguity of expectations and help both sides fully comprehend their responsibilities in a meaningful collaboration experience.
One of the biggest measures of success of this product would be decreased friction between clients and creatives throughout an improvement in successful project conversions while using the app. As more creatives use the app over time, I also aim to further expand the project to capture talent for clients with different budget constraints, creatives visions and business goals.
Approaching this project, I wanted to make sure I was aligning my designs and values to solve problems for real humans. By leveraging the design thinking approach, I structured this exploration to maintain a focus on designing a human-centered solution that is not only economically viable and technologically feasible but also ultimately desirable in addressing my user's needs.
I believe that designing an expressive and communicative platform for new creative freelancers will achieve improved communication between the creatives and their clients. I will know this is true when I see that freelancers are able to freely communicate their creative process and set expectations for their clients, leading to an increase in the percentage of successful jobs and continued partnerships.
As a result, Chloe Huỳnh was created. She stands as a reliable representation of my key user group of my product; providing consistency to the audience my solution aims to target.
To develop a stronger foundation, I created a user experience map, visualizing an an end-to-end experience than an average young creative goes through in order to accomplish their goal of communicating with their clients.
Having gotten a better understanding of my primary users, I began to author user stories that reflect on possible features and functions that my design solution may encompass. I did this to fully ideate and exhaust as many options as I could before narrowing them down to functional epics.
Ultimately, the 4 epics I arrived at were..
From there, I decided to go with the following encompassing epic and brainstormed more possible functionalities by ideating more user stories within it...
By curating a task flow diagram, I then wanted to visually showcase the journey my primary user would take through using my product.
10 one-on-one user tests were performed both over Zoom and Discord (video call) that informed me of changes to be made within the first and second prototypes.
This happened in two stages where each stage led to an improved iteration of my initial prototype as shown below.
These tests were to check the interactive experience, usability and heuristics of the Parallel Initial Prototype. All tests took place between March 1st - 3rd, 2022 over video calls.
4 user tests were done with the BrainStation class members with 1 test being with a past user interviewee. I did this to test usability issues through the eyes of a UX student with some insights from the user base as a tiebreaker.
Overall the tests conducted went smoothly and each user was able to complete the entire flow with minimal breaks and stoppages. The linear nature of the flow, along with a strong mental model made the process seem intuitive and predictable.
These tests were to check the interactive experience and communicated purpose of the Parallel revised prototype. All tests took place on March 4th - 5th, 2022 over video calls.
4 user tests were done with past user interviewees and creative students/graduates with 1 BrainStation UX student from class.
A lot of users this time wanted to have a full gallery integration with the system. More specific feedback was provided on the navigation of the onboarding process and some on informational hierarchy.
When coming up with a name for my product, I stopped and asked myself
"How would describe the state where clients and creatives are working together?"
With that, the words/phrases 'Collaboration' , ' In Sync' and 'Mirrored' came to mind. Ideating further, I look over to a trusty online thesaurus and came to partnership, alliance, collusion, and parallel and that's when it hit me:
When clients and creatives are seeing eye to eye, they are in parallels of one another.
Through that realization, I then started to generate possible iterations of my wordmark.
After two rounds of testing and generating multiple iterations for our designs, we are finally at the point where we can experiment with the visual identity of our product.
More importantly, this marks the beginning of a segment of this exploration within this project that focuses on curating a visual identity for our users. For this exploration, I focused on building a consistent moodboard that resonated with focus, balance and connection while also exploring existing application trends and patterns to create a consistent experience.
After curating a more contemporary-stationary style for my product, I wanted to choose a typeface that closely matches that tone. With that, I went with Neue Montreal as my primary font and Lora as a secondary to highlight key aspects of my product.
From my moodboard, I extracted key colours that would match my product's tone in order to create a cohesive experience. For my product, I wanted to go with a slightly playful desaturated look and feel that communicated focus, balance and connection.
Aside from having a high-fidelity version of my application, I also explored possible mobile and browser web versions of a marketing site that serves as one of the first points of interaction for my potential users.
Exploring possibilities on other platforms as well, I believe that Parallel would excel on a browser-based platform where it is not only convenient for the new budding creatives but also for the modest entrepreneurs as well.