Designing a new tool for professionals at Thumbtack
Too long didn’t read
With the launch of instant quoting for professionals, we had to create a new way for professionals to monitor their progress on Thumbtack.
UX, UI, User Research, Prototyping
“I feel like it’s worth it because I’m getting more customers” - Thumbtack professional
At Thumbtack, I joined the Pros team to help professionals improve their business and experience on the platform. This is a great example of a quick turn-around on a two week design sprint.
Thumbtack is a marketplace that connects service professionals (Pros) and consumers. Thumbtack’s users fall into categories as diverse as painters, cleaners, DJs, and lawyers. With such a variety of categories, the two main design challenges at Thumbtack are being compatible with the Pro's digital fluency and fitting the Pro's needs.
Once the system is active, Pros will want some transparency about how their business is doing in the new paradigm.
Pros ’ mental models of their business may be different than how we think about them. What data can we show that matches Pros ’ mental model? How can we educate Pros about their business? How can we create greater transparency of the new paradigm for Pros ?
This was an entirely new initiative and had a lot of interdependencies with other concurrently running design projects. Initially, our PM wanted to build an analytics dashboard, but I turned that into a more open-ended set of user-centered questions.
This project moved really fast and we had to cut ideation and focus on execution. Ultimately, due to time and engineering constraints we didn't make all the features I feel could of made this first version great. Later, I had more time to expand the vision of insights.
Understand — I talked to Pros, PMs, and designers about the product, our problems, and contextualizing them around my project.
Define — I honed the scope for our first MVP and follow up version, strategizing, and making decisions around what to show.
Ideate — I then mocked up sketches of how we could implement what it might look like and used that to hone in on implementation.
Implement— I made UI styled components, made a maximum version, our minimum version, and also the next version. I worked with devs and did the HTML/CSS implementation of designs.
User Centered Questions
I rephrased our product requirements into questions the Pro may be asking from insights. This helps us think about the use-case from the user’s perspective and leaves features open-ended for ideation.
This refers to the literal, is it going up or down? Whatever we provided here would be the backbone for answering what’s happening. It was important to choose data that would make sense to the Pros.
How am I doing?
The answer to this question is contextual and subjective. Insights could provide tips that could range from generic best practices to intelligent feedback. If we knew a user had no photos, we could suggest them to add photos.
What have I setup?
Viewing insights could prompt a user to want to change settings elsewhere in the app. We should provide them shortcuts to tweak those settings.
“Im going to go through all of these [docs]. I’m checking the MBL and HBL and make sure they’re keyed correctly and I’ll check AN… It’s our job to make sure that data is quality.”
Since the accuracy of our data is sometimes questionable, it requires a lot of double checking by brokers because they are the gate keepers to what gets transmitted to US Customs, and are held responsible with the business if things go wrong.
There are several points at which data enters, first with the client uploading docs and then data ops keying in the data. There’s also lots of communication overhead with brokers checking in with clients for other information.
The vision is to create visibility into the new quoting system and show what’s happening to help Pros improve.
Insights into the user journey
After the Pro has setup their calendar, quoting sheet, and budgeting he is ready to activate the new quoting system. How the quoting system works is a bit of a mystery to the Pro, so insights is there to provide some information about what's happening and how the Pro's business is doing. Hopefully, we could expand on this and provide actionable next steps to improve their business.
It was clear that we couldn’t provide some typical marketing funnel analytics to start with, that’d be like throwing them in the deep-end. For our first launch, we should stick to something simple that would be clear what it meant and delivered value. Later, we could layer on additional data, features, and education to empower our pros to be more analytical.
I ideated with the PM around what stats we could use for insights. Talking to users helped me use qualitative data to validate opinions around stats. This helped me coordinate information across the team and generate discussions about pluses/minuses.
In addition to open-ended questions, I brought along some trusty prototypes to gauge their reaction to copy and data. There was a lot of commentary around data that helped them with budgeting. These are some of their comments attached to the UI.
The stats were continuously being re-defined on this project and I had a short timeline to work with, so I experimented with different data points and moved forward on exploring how we might present this information. Would we want one big number with an explanation and a link in a card view? Or would we want to show several stats next to each other?
UI Directions and Ideation
We started with a dashboard idea, expanded it into something more like an assistant, and finally squeezed the designs down to an MVP we could ship. Response has been good so far, and it’s one of the more frequented areas of the app. We are considering making it a main navigation element. We moved really fast on this and so there was a lot of stuff we cut from the first launch, I really would of liked to give users more details on what they're doing and expanded on how to make improvements more actionable.
Thumbtack Insights Future Visioning
The Customs App