Designing a seamless and effective experience
for the Maker Community
Meredith Nelson, Duli Pin, Erika Castaneda G.
Advisors: Lauren Golden and Daniella DeVera
The current design has 2 different elements who 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.
Create a seamless and satisfactory experience for all possible users of Makernet.
Business analysis, comparative and competitive analysis, user interviews, contextual inquiries, feature prioritization, sketching, and prototyping.
The design process
• Business Analysis
• Product & User Research
• Feature Prioritization
• Structure & Flow
• Ideation & Testing
• Wireframing prototype
For this project we used the Double Diamond methodology, we divided the project into two phases:
1. Identify the problem through research.
2. Find the solution through design sprint.
Makernet is a free platform that interconnects the maker community and offers resources to help them grow and succeed.
The main actors of the maker community, and Makernet’s target audience are:
People who make things: from jewelry or an art installation with electronics to robots. Some of them do it for fun and others to make a living out of what they make.
Shared spaces with the equipment that the makers use to make their things.
How does Makernet help the community?
By giving to Makerspace managers a free set of tools to:
• Manage makers’ memberships and bookings
• Create training workshops and events
• Manage machine inventory
• Manage money
By offering to Makers a site where they can:
• Find the spaces to work
• Learn how to use tools and machines
• Track their learning progress
• Share their projects and progress
• Find inspiration from other makers
Their requirement: Revamp their entire offering into a single website that is comprehensive and scalable.
The current design consists of two web elements, an informational site, and a 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.
Makernet currently has 2 separate products:
• 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.
To determine how useful and usable current Makernet’s products are, we divided this process into two phases:
Phase 1– We analyzed the content, architecture, and interactions through heuristic evaluation.
Phase 2– We tested functionality, interactions, and navigation through user & prospect users interviews and contextual inquiries.
Heuristic evaluation results
- 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
- The design was created to be used for a single 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 understand or interact with
- No option to edit or cancel events or bookings
- Many of the features don’t work well and others haven’t been developed
Interviews and 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
Comparative and Competitive Analysis
Makernet is a unique model that brings into play different types of businesses to analyze:
· Makerspace sites - To study their navigation, and how they categorize classes or working areas.
· Reservation-related sites - To learn reservations best practices and, the elements that come into play.
· Business Management Software sites - To know what features they offer, or how their system works.
· Local and Global Community sites - To discover how they engage their community, how members find inspiration & make connections.
· Industrial and manufacturing sites - To see the online rental process, supplier discovery, and machinery training & certification.
These are the main sites we used as a reference and took inspiration from:
• Fablab - Business Management Service
• NextFab - A network of collaborative makerspaces
• OpenTaable - Restaurant-reservation service company
Understanding the central player – The Maker
With the limited amount of time we had, we decided to center our design on the Maker, the main player of the game, always keeping in mind the big picture (goals and needs of Makernet and all the potential players).
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.
• 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.
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.
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.
The creation of the archetype, along with the analysis of the product helped us identify some key features, as well as missing and repetitive information.
These are the features we focused on:
· Book time on machines and tools
· Book training
· Upload and share projects
· Find other maker’s projects
· Find makerspaces
· Keep track of learning progress
The biggest challenge of this project was to decide how to organize the information and prioritize the given features in order to provide a seamless experience.
We re-organized the content and designed the sitemap.
Ideation and testing
Once we had the structure and content, we started our design cycle.
We tested our design solution three times with different users, the feedback that helped us refine it land in the final version.
This is what we changed 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).
The final product
These are our final screens that you can see in the interactive prototype (button below).
The user account dashboard
The clickable prototype recreates our user onboarding scenario. We guided the user to find the right machine training for them.
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.
The next step will be to develop the structure for that incorporates all the players of the Makernet community.