TLRD: Redesign HireAHelper’s blog to be more user friendly with a more modern design
HireAHelper is an online marketplace connecting people who are moving to moving labor. This means there are two main user groups- people who are moving (customers) and people who provide moving labor (Helpers). HireAHelper’s blog did not cater to both groups. The majority of the posts were customer facing only, while information for Helpers was distributed through a newsletter and hidden WordPress pages.
My task was to update the UI and functionality of the blog so it could cater to both user groups while having a more modern design.
Step 1: Finding a Platform and Hiring Contractors
HireAHelper’s blog is hosted on WordPress. When I first approached this project the entire development team expressed their distain for all things PHP- basically, they wanted nothing to do with the platform. So I started with researching various blogging platforms to see what would best fit our needs. I also interviewed the dev team to see what it is that frustrated them so much with WordPress and what it was they wanted.
After researching different platforms and talking with the team I realized one of the biggest issues was the dev team just had too much work on their plates, and when they were asked to do blog related tasks they weren’t always given all the information they needed to complete the task. Even if we went with a new platform, that wouldn’t solve all of their frustrations.
To solve these problems I decided to hire contractors to do the bulk of the work. I consulted with the dev team to make sure they were happy with the chosen contractors and to make sure they set out any dev requirement ahead of time (ex: they had to use Foundation).
I worked closely with the contractors throughout the process, but making sure the dev team was also aware of what was happening.
Step 2: Researching, Designing and Prototyping
While completing step 1, I began the design process. I researched best UX practices, current design trends, and interviewed the members of the team who had been most closely working on the blog- what were they happy with? What did they want to be different? What were the goals of the project?
All my design projects start with low-fi wire framing. Working in Adobe XD, I crafted a 3 different wireframe flows for testing my ideas. From there I moved in to high-fidelity prototypes. From design one, I always work with real data. I created .txt files listing blog post names, dates, and other meta info so I could easily drop them into my designs. This let me quickly test my designs with actual content.
At all steps in the process I communicated with the team, making sure everyone could offer feedback at any step. All designs were shared via InVision and in person presentations.
Step 3: Development and Project Management
HireAHelper’s original blog was built using a paid theme that had been customized to the brink of breaking. Many of the features were being used in ways they weren’t meant to be used (ex: pages were being created to share posts they didn’t want to appear in the blog roll).
I wanted to make sure the new custom theme had all the features the team needed, and a few extra they could grow into. This meant outlining different custom post types, designing flexible call outs, and more.
I worked closely with the developers to make sure we included all this custom functionality into the WP control panel so it would be powerful and easy to use for the non-technical members of the team.
Step 4: Launch and iterate
Since launching there have been a number of features added and changed. While the contractors were involved for the initial bugs and testing, HireAHelper’s dev team now also helps with the process. Whenever including the dev team on a blog bug, I make sure to throughly document the issue and I work closely with them throughout the process so they have the support and information they need to complete the task.
The new design makes it easier to navigate, promotes exploration of content and caters to two different audiences seamlessly on one blog.
- 1.16 million visitors in 2017
- 61.34% traffic up YOY from 2016-2017
- Greater than 62% of that traffic was new users
- Traffic was sustained beyond the usual busy season through fall into winter
Tools Used: WordPress, Adobe XD, Illustrator, Photoshop, Typekit, InVision, Slack, Trello, Basecamp