Designing a seamless and effective experience
for the Maker Community

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Makernet is a free platform that interconnects the Maker community and offers resources to help them grow and succeed.

Team

Meredith Nelson, Duli Pin, Erika Castaneda G.
Advisors: Lauren Golden and Daniella DeVera

Challenge

- Design a scalable, findable and intuitive model for Makernet. 
- Help the primary users find the resources they are looking for in the smoothest and effective way.
- Create a product with a sense of community.

Solution

- Redefine the current content, redesign the structure and navigation, and add scalable features.
- Design with the maker community in mind
- Add sections for community engagement, collaboration, and self-promotion. 

My Role

Business analysis, comparative and competitive analysis, user interviews, contextual inquiries, feature prioritization, sketching, and prototyping.

Duration

3 weeks


Business Analysis

Source: www.beecharge.com

Source: www.beecharge.com

Business Goals


• Help Makers find the spaces and tools they need

• Help Makerspace Managers run their space more efficiently

• Help Makers monetize their skills

• Attract new users who might not be familiar with the Maker Movement

 

Primary Users

 

We focused our work on the Makers, the main actor of the maker community.

 

Product Research

Current products

The current design consists of two web elements, a public site, and a private working panel, but they don't work as one same entity, the brand is not present and the message is not delivered as intended; it's also not a scalable design. 

• A public website that is mostly informational, targeting principally managers of makerspaces.
• A private panel of the makerspace (member of Makernet) where people book training or machines, find events or projects of other makers.



Heuristic evaluation

PUBLIC WEBSITE

- No clear flow and lack of direction
- Hard to know what Makernet is and what you can do there
- Excessive and repetitive text site-wide
- There is almost no interaction to help users achieve their goals
- No access to the private panel of a specific makerspace

PRIVATE PANEL

- The design was created to be used separately per makerspace; it is not a scalable model:
• Lacks search capabilities
• The filtering is very limited and not useful
- Location is not a parameter
- An outdated calendar that is not easy to interact with
- No option to edit or cancel events or bookings
- Many of the features don’t work well or haven’t been developed

 

Interviews & contextual inquiry insights

- Confusion about Makernet’s purpose
- Frustration trying to complete certain tasks
- Limited features to achieve their goals
- Confusion about functionality 
- None of the products engage the maker community
- Most testers tried to book machines or training

 
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Competitive and Comparative Analysis

Makernet is a unique model that brings into play different types of businesses to analyze:

 

These are the main sites we used as a reference and took inspiration from:

Fabman - Business Management Service
NextFab - A network of collaborative makerspaces
OpenTaable - Restaurant-reservation service company


User Research


Focusing on the central player – The Maker 

 We spoke to people from a variety of backgrounds, including current student users at Alameda Fablab, one of Makernet’s current users, to understand their behaviors, needs, and motivations.

Affinity map created after the feedback we received from user interviews. This method helped us synthesize data to find patterns.

 Key insights 

• The maker community is proactive, enjoys the ability to learn things and make changes on their own terms. 
• Difficulty finding maker spaces, tools, and training 
• Interest in having access to multiple spaces and to transfer certifications.
• Lack of knowledge about training and safety best practices.


ARCHETYPE CREATION

We developed an archetype based on the data of the user who is actively using Makernet: the student user of the Alameda College Fablab, to help us prioritize the content and features, and narrow the scope of the design.

 

Proposed solution

 How could we solve the problem? By redefining the content and redesigning the structure and interactions in a cohesive, scalable and accessible way.

Based on our research, we thought that MakerNet could be more appealing and easy to use if we:

• Moved away from the private panel because that model is not scalable.
• Integrated into the public site key features and content from the working panel that will help users find the resources in a seamless and intuitive experience.
• Incorporated other features that will help Makernet be more scalable, such as a search bar, advanced filters, and geo-location.
• Added content to engage users so they will be more likely to sign up, and become part of the brand and (probably) the maker movement.

With a solution in mind, we started working in redesigning the site. 


Structure and Flow
 

User Flow

We focused on improving the onboarding flow for this student who needs to book a training to start using the machines for the first time.


Sitemap

We re-organized the content and designed the sitemap.

The four screens outlined in purple follow the user flow of the archetype we created.

 

The flow that would take the new student user to complete the task to book a training.


Ideation and testing


The design cycle

 
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Iterations

We tested our design solution three times with different users, the feedback that helped us refine it land in the final version.


Changes after Usability Testing

·      Moved logo from center, to top left, to be present throughout the pages.
·      Simplified search bar, from the “directed search bar” initially proposed.
·      Grouped main actions into two main categories: Learnand Get things done.
·      Moved up “how it works” to have it visible before scrolling.
·      Created a call to action to invite space managers to become part of the network (this link would take them to a landing page with all the information about the management tools and a contact form). 


The final product

These are our final screens that you can see in the interactive prototype (button below).


homepage

Notes highlighting the new interactions in the homepage.


Training Listing


The user account dashboard 

Private section with User information (after Login or Sign In).


Final prototype

The clickable prototype recreates our user onboarding scenario. We guided the user to find the right machine training for them.


Closing notes

• Based on our research and usability testing, our design proofs to make it easier for makers to find the resources they need and complete the tasks in an easy way. 

• My team and I successfully improved the usability and accessibility of Makernet’s platform by redefining its structure and implementing scalable features and intuitive interactions resulting in a seamless experience for its primary users.

• The next step will be to develop the structure that incorporates all the players of the Makernet community.