I joined the Slant.co team to lead a design overhaul of the site. I was brought on to take the complex, largely engineer-designed product and evolve it into a more user-friendly experience. This included a responsive visual redesign of core pages as well as strategic initiatives to improve community contributions to the site. I worked within the product team to determine new features and tools that needed to be built and prioritized them into the roadmap.
I designed various functional improvements to the site including:
Our original home page began as a static list, and didn’t reflect the large, committed community behind the scenes. The home page was key to our contribution flow because we wanted it to be the place where community members could hang out and find interesting questions to answer. Most of our traffic comes in through Google, so it was critical that our site be seen as a trustworthy resource, and entice new visitors to convert into community members.
Some things we learned from new users and community members:
The card-based layout I chose for the redesign is flexible enough to test various interstitals within the feeds. We have specific cards for trending products, featured users, unanswered questions etc. that add variety to the feed. I aimed to humanize the feed by integrating the user activity within each question into the feeds. This project was tightly coupled with the product and engineering team, and we came up with a good workflow to ensure that we presented the right types of questions to the user at any given point.
People are the most important part of our site, and we needed to build features that celebrated them. Even though we were heads-down in designing features for our community, we hadn’t enable them to have an identity on Slant. Our CEO would regularly get emails asking for the ability to update an email account, or add a Twitter link to his/her profile. Community members craved the ability to share their favorite products, and get recognition for their expertise. Consumers who came in through Google were more likely to trust a user’s opinion if the user’s expertise was vouched-for by Slant.
I spent a few weeks performing exploratory research, and identified the touchpoints to pursue: profiles, our karma system, on-site notifications and email. The redesigned profile page below highlights Kathryn’s expertise, contributions, favorite products, and includes profile management tools that she can use to update her page. The ability to follow users will enable us to further customize content in feeds.
We rethought our karma system, and worked together to find the balance between making it a huge barrier to entry, and giving users points for everything. Since our content is crowdsourced, users get points for contributing, as well as compounded karma for helping others over time. In order to ensure that the karma messaging is easily recognizable, we used this as a chance to bring some fun icons into the product.
The question pages are the most trafficked pages on Slant, so our initial redesign was both the most open-ended and most restrictive projects. We started off affinity diagramming our solution space, and I spent almost two months researching, talking to users, and designing features. After filling our walls with various ideas, it was clear that we can’t build it all on day one, so I pursued the most flexible options. Here’s what our starting point looked like:
The original question pages were text heavy when filled, blank when unanswered. We had quite a few metrics tied to these pages, so I had to be mindful of the effects of the design on the affiliate links, and navigation. We user tested two significantly different designs, performed preference tests with InVision, and also did various tests with Usability Hub to gauge initial impressions. Here’s an example of a preference test we ran. We found that users were unable to distinguish the significance of the graphs on the left option, and preferred the visual hierarchy on the right option.
In the end, we went with a sleek design that focuses on an easily scannable 2 column list view, followed by a product page that highlights media and focuses on the reading experience. Most importantly, the design is flexible enough to easily integrate with new components as we design them. We highlight all the contributors’ faces within a stats block to show that various users came together to create the answers. Variable content was one of our biggest challenges, but we mocked up the chosen design with all kinds of variable content so we could make sure it worked.