Challenge: Create a two-sided recruitment platform for scientist and researchers to present projects and recruit subjects for experiments.
Role: Strategy, Brand design, Visual Identity, UX Design, UI Design, Implementation
A perfect match. The right project and the right technology at the right time. That’s my main takeaway from the comprehensive redesign project of ForskningNu I did with founder and CEO Benjamin Graungaard.
Benjamin had tested and found proof of concept of his business over the past year with a simple, manually updated Squarespace website. So, the time was right to take the project to the next level: Automatise workflows and start building a more scalable business. The web platform Bubble.io turned out to be the perfect match.
A solid no-code backend tool and more
Many new design and development platforms have entered the web recently, promising a no-code approach and the ability to build any founder’s digital dreams in a matter of weeks rather than years. Few players have proved both solid and actually provide these technological superpowers. Bubble is one of those.
With an easy-to-access visual drag-and-drop system for backend code, built-in database structure, solid workflows, and a basic framework for the front-end design, Bubble is quite an amazing tool.
To me, starting with a little bit of understanding of databases and backend development, decent design skills, a professional level of UX design, and good strategic business understanding, I could basically do an entire project that would normally take 3-5 people a few months, and do everything on my own in a little more than a month.
The business case
ForskningNu is a two-sided marketplace and a Software as a Service platform. Scientists can set up web pages for presenting their projects and recruiting research subjects. And research subjects, or rather ‘regular people’, can register for the projects or enlist in a database to be updated about coming projects.
For science researchers, it’s an important tool. It assists with an often tiresome and difficult task, that lies far from the core job of science and research, and is often both de-motivating and stress-inducing.
For regular people, it’s an opportunity to help science move forward assisting with data and participation, sometimes with the added benefits of receiving test results and other valuable and sometimes hard-to-get knowledge for personal development.
The business model is a freemium model. It’s free to set up project pages and receive registrations. The main product of the platform is a campaign add-on consisting of paid social media and search advertising, with a guaranteed number of qualified registrations. The price varies across projects depending on three key factors: How hard it is to reach the requested target group. How much effort is required from participants. And the number of participants requested.
With the two major use cases in mind, I outlined the user journeys and the overall service UX with a sitemap. At the beginning of the project, I also created a new visual identity and brand guide with a logo, a logo mark with shapes and colors that could be applied across various design applications, and a set of fonts.
With these core design elements in place, I could soon start to set up the data structure in the Bubble backend and the pages for the frontend in the Bubble design view. Everything with an immediate product launch in mind. Bubble comes with out-of-the-box authentication (user sign-up functionality) and user rights management, so it’s easy to get started.
Normally this job would be split across two or three persons. A designer, a front-end developer, and a backend developer, and sometimes also a manager or a product owner in the middle. So to be able to combine these roles into one saves a lot of time.
In my experience it not only saves a lot of time. It also improves the product to be able to lead feature design and development this way, all the way from thought to final implementation while seamlessly and blazingly fast transitioning back and forth between the phases.
I’m not saying that 3-4 people could not end up with a better product and result, but the ability to move this fast with the final actual code of a product is amazing and have clear benefits in terms of getting a product ready and in front of real users and start improving with their feedback.
Here’s a look at the Bubble project environment behind the scenes.
Bubble.io backend product tour
And a Front end product tour of the live site.
Front end product tour
Bubble, as a platform, do has setbacks and disadvantages. Doing a lot of work in Webflow the past year, I sorely missed better abilities of working with the design and UI, especially for various screen sizes. At the end of the day, Bubble is more about functionality, than about pixel perfection, beautiful designs, and smooth animations. It provides simply the bare minimum of design options.
A few highlighted features from the project.
Making helping science easy
To ease the process of finding interesting projects for potential participants we tried something other than the traditional UX pattern for filtering items on a list.
Rather than starting from the system perspective and offering filters based on project meta data we turned the options into questions for the user: What is your sex? Your age? And Your Location? This way we flipped the point of view from the system to the user, where it belongs. An obvious UX win.
Free project web pages
For project owners it is to set up a free web page for the project, describing the research and what is required of participants. The project owners can even promote the web pages on their own and invite participants to register for their projects for free.
The freemium model is great for growth and lead generation for the core platform business: To sell online campaigns on social media, recruiting the needed number of participants, quickly and efficiently.
In time, with a growing database of consenting participants, the offering the ability to find participants directly from the growing user base is an obvious suggestion for the next addition to the product mix.
Complex pricing made easy
How do we then promote the sales of the online campaigns, that are the core product of the platform?
The strategy was to provide the project owner with a clear idea of what to expect based on commonly shared parameters and use that as the foundation of a simple calculation of the price.
In addition to the number of participants needed, two qualitative inputs are required from the project owners. 1. A categorizing the group of participants. And 2. An indication of the level of effort required by participants. Based on these parameters and solid experience from former campaigns, we can then calculate the approximate total price of a campaign in real-time on the page, allowing the user to get a quote, and order in the same flow.
With this, we could remove an enormous amount of friction of the buying processing, that until the redesign was based on manually calculating a campaign quote while the project owner needed to wait, sometimes a day or two, before being able to move on and actually placing an order.
Admin view with full business overview and day-to-day operations
Having the full overview of new business and activity, and easy access to the most important day-to-day operations is critical to any business.
A good understanding of the most important workflows for the platform owner and Bubble’s ability to decide what to show where and to whom made this easy to set up.
At the end of the project, we could simply duplicate the project owner admin pages, add a few more options and information to create the full platform owner admin view.
With an additional suite of emails triggered by user actions that need immediate attention or manual handling, also set up in Bubble, the daily workload for the founder and platform has been eased significantly since launch.
Check out the full site live at ForskningNu.dk
Digital Annual Report Concept & UX
SmallBrooks – Simple Crowdfunding
How do we create a great reader experience that preserves and builds upon the best from both traditional print publications and digital media?
Let’s build an awesome product! It’s based on solid concepts, world-class UX, and clever information architecture, solving real problems.
To make sure that the right product is being built, and that the product is being built right. That is the right way to go.
Webdesign and Implementation
Get going with a new website in a few days, or let’s build something big. I work with Webflow, Bubble, Squarespace, Wix, WordPress etc.
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I’m available for freelance work and consultancy. Short term and longer term. At an hourly, daily or weekly rate, or with a project based agreement.
I’m based in Copenhagen, Denmark and open for remote work and travelling.