Blue sky thinking for insights at Thumbtack

from 2016

Too long didn’t read

With the success of insights, I built up future concepts to guide decision making, and setup a framework for thinking about insights company-wide.

My Role

UX, UI, Strategy, Research

Design Outcome

US Customs inspecting goods.


Insights was created fairly quickly and for the most-part considered a fancy dashboard. It was my job to do some deeper thinking on insights and see how we could expand the vision for insights to influence long-term product direction.


Insights had the potential to have a much greater impact for both Pros and for our product. We had only done short-term thought to fix a short-term problem. We needed some long-term thinking to help steer the product direction.


This project involved a lot of cross-team collaboration to collect and synthesize knowledge. I started by breaking down insights into reusable components that we could mix and match across the platform. I defined these components with principles to help guide design thinking. Through research I identified user problems on the platform and how insights could solve these problems. I later created a presentation to share with the design org.


Breaking down insights

Viz - Simple, and reusable. A viz shows data with a minimal aesthetic treatment to be clear and understandable. It’s designed for reuse across the platform and can be paired with a tip or explorer.

Tip - Personalized and actionable. A tip guides a pro to take actions that help a pro become successful. Each tip should prompt a specific action.

Explorer - Interactive and actionable. An explorer is a custom viz that enables exploration of data to give the pro deeper insights about the platform and their business. Pros can modify variables and play around with data.Whenever possible, this should be tied to an actionable step.



Insights is more than a dashboard, it’s a platform-wide assistant that guides Pros to make better decisions just in time.

This graph conveys that over time, Insights will scale exponentially in helping Pro's do better. Instead of linearly adding more support, Insights can provide good data so Pros can help themselves.

Thumbtack has a lot of support staff to take phone calls to help Pros improve. Some of these efforts could be automated if we could provide the right insights at the right time. The best course forward is not one or the other, but some combination of the two. At first, the value of Insights may be hard to see, but the ROI could be huge.

User Types

Hire a handyman on Thumbtack

Hire a handyman on Thumbtack

Through conversations with different stakeholders on the team, I created a rough idea of the different user types teams we were designing for. I used this as a jump-off point for identifying areas we could address for our users.


Areas of opportunity

areas of flow.png

After auditing the entire flow from sign up to becoming an active quoting user, there were a lot room we could insert insights to help guide users. Too much actually, so I focussed on the most compelling ideas to get the message across.


Ideation and Concepts

Zip Code Picker


An explorer concept to help heavy users fine-tune their zip code picking so they can optimize their business quoting on Thumbtack.


This idea is interesting, because it touches the consumer-side app. If we could get additional data from customers, then we could provide this as feedback to a pro so they know their strengths and implicitly where they can improve.

insights support.png


What if we had a chat app for Pros who need help?

It could provide visualizations in-line with its communication with a bot or a human.

What if we gave support tools to communicate with Pros better? Augmenting human intelligence with machine capabilities.


Desired Budget

This would help create transparency and educate Pro’s on how much to spend.

One of the difficulties for Pros was understanding how much they should budget for  Thumbtack.

This helps the Pro gauge how much they would need to spend to reach a goal and we can support them in getting to that goal via other insights implementations.

Desired Budget.png

To Do

Really simple concept. New users are overwhelmed by all the actions they need to take when signing up. Can we provide them a simple checklist to help guide them towards completion?


Sign Up

Here we could guide users through the sign up process, helping them make decisions about services they could offer to help them make more money. Tying real data with an actionable next step makes it really easy for Pros to see where they can capture extra value.

signup services tip.png


revealing budget.png

Here we could guide users through the sign up process, helping them make decisions about services they could offer to help them make more money. Tying real data with an actionable next step makes it really easy for Pros to see where they can capture extra value.




If we were going to provide tips across the platform, it also made sense to start thinking about the voice of insights. How would it speak? What would copy be like? These are themes of insight’s different voices.



Through collaboration and research, I created a much broader and impactful vision for insights. This project was well-received and became the framework for the insights initiative moving forward. I’m proud of it because it’s documentation that will carry the torch for insights. I would have loved some more time to prototype out some of these ideas and even do some testing, but given the time and engineering constraints I handed this off to another designer on the team to move onto a major project for Thumbtack’s big bets.

Other Projects

Thumbtack: Insights

The Customs App