What is Peerlyst?
Peerlyst is a social network for security professionals.
Peerlyst serves as a platform for security professionals to write posts, share knowledge and build reputations. It is also a place where security vendors can post and promote their products to the users.
The current homepage:
Since September 2016, I have been the sole UX Designer.
As the only designer at the company, I work on major monetization features as well as small improvements of the existing experience. Since I’m still a senior at RISD, I work remotely. I keep close contact with the San Francisco office through daily Skype calls with the PM and weekly calls with the CEO and the developers.
Learning by doing. Grow as fast as possible.
I was offered the position after winning Peerlyst's design Hackathon. At the time, I was finishing up my 10-week UX Design program at General Assembly. I was honored and humbled that Peerlyst believed in my ability to carry on the work previously done by a much more experienced designer. This experience pushed me to learn and grow as fast as I can.
The Monetization Project
How might Peerlyst attract more paid vendors to promote their products on Peerlyst?
The major project I worked on is the monetization. Before the project, even though vendors could show their products on Peerlyst to attract potential customers, there were not many vendors who were doing it. To invite more vendors to the website and pay for the product promotion service, many pages have to be updated and new features needed to be built.
Scope | 25+ pages for both desktop and mobile . Duration | 4 weeks
Many iterations and long Skype calls
Because of the tight deadlines, iterations had to be made quickly and effectively.
The project started in mid-November and the designs needed to be done by mid-December for beta test. Because we only have one front-end developer and one back-end developer, the new designs need to reuse the existing elements as much as possible to eliminate unnecessary development efforts. In the four weeks, I had daily Skype calls with the PM and frequent meetings with the developers and the CEO.
Elements of the project
1. Redesign vendor page so vendors are proud to say "That's my page!"
To invite more vendors to the site, the vendor page has to look good. In the redesign, we added a cover photo element, so paid vendors can customize their page to the way they want. For non-paid vendors, they will have a default cover photo. We also cleaned up the right side of the page to be more organized.
2. Redesign product page with better organizations.
One main goal of the monetization project was to allow vendors to easily communicate their product information to users. The problem with the old product page was that most of the product information was on the right side of the page, which was difficult to show on mobile website and not well organized.
In redesigning the product page, we focused on reorganizing the product information in a much more clear way. The product details are moved to the right main section of the page and separated into clear sub categories.
3. New wizard for vendors to easily add a product to the website.
The "Add a product" flow was a completely new flow for the website. The biggest challenge was to break down the lengthy process into digestible small steps. We didn't want vendors to be overwhelmed by the amount of info needed to be filled out in one step. But we also didn't want to break the process into too many small steps, which can feel like a burden as well. After experimenting with many different ways to divide the process, we ended with a three-step process that feels the most effortless.
4. New wizard to promote a product after adding it.
Similar to "Add a product" flow, the challenge in the product promotion flow was also to make the long process as effortless as possible. There were many iterations on the overall structure as well as the details.
The challenge to make every page mobile responsive.
30% of the Peerlyst users are on the mobile site. Therefore, when designing all the pages, we need to make sure that the solutions for the desktop site can also work for the mobile site.
I learned to ask "Why" for every decision.
When I showed my mockups to the PM and the developer, I was always questioned “why you made that decision” “Why that...?” “Why not that…?" In the beginning, I sometimes couldn't answer those questions because I didn’t think through all the details when I designed. In fact, often times, when I was asked about the “why” is when my decisions didn’t look logical.
I realized how important it is to always have a reason for any of my decisions even if it’s the smallest details. From the whole layout, to a thin divider, there are all endless options. It’s the “why” that makes one option better than the other.
The best solution is at the intersection of business, design and technology.
Working closely with the CEO, the PM and the developers, I learned that a UX designer has to understand business goals and technical limitations. I can have the most beautiful mockups, but if it does not bring anything useful for the business or take way too long to develop, the designs are useless.
As I worked on more tasks, I learned to ask questions about the goal of the task in the beginning, and to check with engineering often to see what is doable and what is not.
Peerlyst's trust motivated me to do better work.
Working with Peerlyst allowed me to experience how a fast-paced start-up works. I realized at a start-up, I can have a lot of impact on the product. However, with the impact also comes the responsibility.
With all the trust from the company, I can not be the weak link, especially during the monetization project when everyone was busy. The PM, the developers were all working late at night. Even though I work remotely, I need to keep up with the speed so everyone else can have less to worry about.
Working 8 hours a day while finishing up the school semester pushed me to work efficiently.
The monetization happened at the same time when the fall semester was ending. It was a challenging time but also a great opportunity for me to improve my time management skills and pick up my working speed. Because the developers couldn't start working until I finalized the designs, I made sure that I finished Peerlyst's work first and then work on my own school works.
There are still many parts of the design that need to be improved. I'll continue to revise, learn and grow.