BT

City of Future.

For those creating the urban world of tomorrow.

City of Future is a multi-sided digital platform that brings to you the most groundbreaking projects and ideas that will change the way we live in cities (of today and tomorrow).

Chapter 1

The challenge.

Collaboration was at the center stage while keeping a focus on a clean and intuitive user experience that embraced its creative user base.

March 1, 2017.
The team was gathered to celebrate our first anniversary at the company. After a few moments of chatting, I proposed and facilitated an exercise called Retrospective, where each team member shared their thoughts on what went well and what went wrong over the past year, as well as their vision for the platform. The result was a whiteboard full of opportunities to work on. At the end of the exercise, a couple of ideas stood out: a) although we were being able to successfully convince new creators to share their work, the whole journey — that goes from discovering a project to sharing it with our audience — was frustrating and time-consuming; b) our engagement rate within the platform should be much higher.

To answer these problems, the team embarked on a journey to redesign the platform making it more creator-friendly.

Chapter 2

Positioning.

This step of the process is all about understanding user ambitions, desires and challenges, generate insights and reframe those into business opportunities.

We kicked off using qualitative research to formulate a deep understanding of our current creators. We coupled a few open-ended questions into a survey focused on how users act, why they make specific choices, and what are their motivations, and their met and unmet needs.

To have a complete understanding of users, we needed to validate the previous insights with a broader audience. So, this time, we blended open-ended and close-ended questions in a survey promoted through a Facebook campaign to potential new creators (based on our current creators’ demographics). We combined multiple choice questions like "What is your area of work/expertise? a) Architecture; b) Citizenship & Social Engagement; c) Design; d) Environment; e) Mobility; f) Technology; g) Urbanism", and open-ended questions like "In your opinion, how *area chosen* will transform cities of future?". At the end of the campaign, we had a clear vision of the challenges that the platform should tackle and the features that should be built.

Alongside the Facebook campaign, we performed classic brand strategy tasks such as audience segmentation and brand cultural attributes. I approached these exercises using two templates from education platform The Futur's framework CORE: Brand Attributes and User Profiles.

The first one consists of a 2-step exercise that combines multiple attributes brainstormed by the team in different aspects - like voice, culture, users and impact - that led us to define our brand position statement.

City of Future's brand position statement.

The second one was used to define the different types of potential creators. We blended team's assumptions with ethnographic and demographic studies of our current creators to come up with two profiles: The Entrepreneur and The Inventor. What distinguishes them is the main purpose to share their work. While The Entrepreneur has a business purpose, The Inventor is just looking for feedback and attention. Different motivations mean different expectations.

** User Profile Images **

As you'll see further, all the work done in this Positioning step will drive our strategic approach to the next steps.

Chapter 3

Building.

Collaboration was at the center stage while keeping a focus on a clean and intuitive user experience that embraced its creative user base.

Creating digital products and services is a constant pursuit of the right solution, acknowledging that the right solution today might not be the right solution tomorrow. I had been studying for a while a process that is rapid, iterative, and focused on quality through continuous learning called Design Sprint and we decided to test it.

Design Sprint by Google Ventures is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with users. It's a process that relies on the people, knowledge and tools that the team already has, and shortcuts the endless-debate cycle and compresses months of time into a single week.

** Design sprint schedule **

We kicked off our week by mapping out creator’s current journey and identifying its main pain points. Understanding the pain points gave us the opportunity to work on solutions to remove friction from our journey. After a focused and organized group discussion, we decided to focus the rest of the sprint on one specific pain point: the submission phase.

** Current creators' journey **

On Tuesday, we focused squarely on sketching possible solutions to that specific pain point. As a group, we started by defining the ideal future journey and then, individually, each team member followed a 4-step process to sketch his/her solution. The best thing about having a process is that you don't need to rely on inspiration. Trust the process and unleash your creativity.

** Ideal creators' journey **

On Wednesday, it was time to review the sketches made on Tuesday and to decide which ones had the best chances of achieving our goal. We used a voting system to do so. After that, we discussed and created a storyboard that served as a step-by-step plan for the prototype that would be created on Thursday. We imagined a scenario where the user would find us through a promoted Facebook post and would be redirected to a landing page specifically designed to convince him/her to share his/her work with us.

On Thursday, instead of spending weeks or months building that solution - or even a Minimum Viable Product -, we used the interface design tool Figma to create a high-fidelity, clickable prototype based on the wireframes and storyboard developed on the days before.

** Prototype GIF **

Friday, last day of the week, was testing day.
We invited two current creators who fit into the user profiles identified in the Positioning phase to test the prototype. While they were interacting with it, we were observing their actions and facial expressions and documenting all our findings, learnings and ideas to improve our prototype. These insights were the basis of the next iterations. After two iterations, we were finally ready to bring our concept to market.

We jumped into the week with a big challenge - design a more creator-friendly platform - and by the end of the week, we've defined the main pain point, created promising solutions to remove friction, chosen the best, built a realistic prototype and tested it with real users. I was so blown away by Design Sprints' agility and simplicity that we ended up running Design Sprints to improve our engagement rates and to develop our email communication strategy.

Chapter 4

Promoting.

Collaboration was at the center stage while keeping a focus on a clean and intuitive user experience that embraced its creative user base.

The secret to a successful marketing strategy is understanding how the target audience moves when they're trying to solve their problem, the channels that are most effective in reaching them, and their expectations throughout the different stages of the journey. And this is where all the time spent on research pays up.

Because we did a great job at the Positioning phase, we already had the answers to all these questions so we jumped straight to developing our strategy to reach our goal of getting 100 new projects in three months. To accomplish that, we needed two things: attract as many potential creators as possible to our landing page, and to make sure that our landing page was converting well.

We created a Content Strategy that combined paid, owned and earned media, and defined the appropriate approach to content in each channel. Once again, the insights gathered in the Positioning phase were extremely helpful to drive our approach to content building. We reviewed the answers given by our creators to the open-ended questions, built our content around a few keywords extracted from those answers, and spread it with the tone of voice previously set in the Brand Attributes exercise.

** Conversion Funnel **

We published written content on our website to motivate project submissions; we created videos celebrating those who are pushing our cities forward; we bought banners and sponsored content in other websites visited by our target audience and we saw our platform been referred in other websites. With this content strategy, we managed to attract thousands of potential creators to our landing page.

During this period, we were constantly monitoring our landing page to check its conversion rate, and uncover users' behaviour and points of friction. Whenever we felt it was necessary, we proceeded to make changes on our landing page to minimize its inefficiency and maximize its value to the user.

Chapter 5

Final thoughts.

Collaboration was at the center stage while keeping a focus on a clean and intuitive user experience that embraced its creative user base.

One month after we started promoting the platform, our team was invited to build the brand strategy of group's main brand, Ecopaint Corporation. It was a mix of emotions and feelings. We were sad because we spent so much of our time and energy creating the platform but, at the same time, we knew that a huge challenge was expecting us.

As we left the project earlier than expected, I'll never know if we would achieve our goal of 100 new projects in 3 months. Until the moment that we left the project, 30 new projects were created through the new platform, but we have to consider two things: we were still perfecting our landing page and content, and the value that each new creator adds to the platform making it more attractive to others - the network effect. So, I believe that we would achieve our goal.

Personally, the project was a success. I enjoyed every minute, every arguing, every small triumph throughout the journey. In a project so exciting and challenging, being able to first convince the team to follow my process, then to guide them through all steps was a huge boost of self-confidence.

I put my process to the test and I succeeded. We went from an idea to market in just 2 months, I improved my process, I grew up as professional and our team was promoted. For me, this is how success looks like.

Back to you

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Collaboration was at the center stage while keeping a focus on a clean and intuitive user experience that embraced its creative user base.

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Share your thoughts with me.

Collaboration was at the center stage while keeping a focus on a clean and intuitive user experience that embraced its creative user base.

How I approach a challenge.

To achieve success, more easily and more often, you must have a process to guide you throughout the journey. For the last couple of years, I've been improving my process to approach every challenge with confidence that I will succeed. Willing to know mine?

Yeah, take me there.