Background: Joinesty is a startup located in Chicago that's focused on providing users with a variety of services revolving around their online accounts and memberships. It provides value to its users in a number of ways; this includes securely storing membership information, communication in the form of social networking, and discovery of new services and memberships. 
Challenge: While the Joinesty team performed some initial research in the form of user surveys, a UX team was not brought in until after the service had been built and soft launched to the public. This presented an interesting dilemma for the UX team. We couldn't alter the product to the point of alienating any of the existing user base, but it was clear that the service needed some assistance in tightening the scope of its offerings. We were tasked with identifying Joinesty's core value proposition and providing suggestions for improving the usability of the website. 
Approach: Our team used human-centered design to first gain an empathetic understanding of the issues users were encountering with the Joinesty service. We performed extensive user research, identified recurring problems, and began generating ideas that might alleviate those problems. 
Role: UX Research/IxD/UX Design
With no prior knowledge of Joinesty and its offerings, the UX team spent several days getting accustomed with the service. We went through the onboarding process and used the service as if we were everyday consumers. After spending some time with the site, we were able to put together some assumptions that would assist with the user research phase. 
While it was helpful to become familiar with Joinesty, we need objective data from potential users of the site to validate our assumptions. Our interviewees were men and women with an age range of 26-44, which coincided with Joinesty's target demographic. Throughout our interviews we were able to gain the following insights:

- People were wary of storing account information in a separate site or service
- Most people already had a system for managing usernames and passwords, and were willing to recover a password if needed
- People only wanted recommendations for new services if they were actually in the market for them
- People rarely took advantage of referrals and the information was often lost or forgotten
- People were only willing to input personal information if there was a tangible, upfront value

Competitive Analysis
We also performed a thorough Competitive Analysis while the results of the user interviews were synthesized. Even though Joinesty does not appear to have any direct competitors, the site does provide a variety of functions that are also offered by other companies. We tried to pick a handful of services from specific categories that Joinesty identifies with: username/password storage, service recommendation, referral management, and social networking
While researching Joinesty's competitors, it became clear that many of these sites were focused on providing a few core services that would provide value to their customers in one way or another. For example, LastPass was focused strictly on providing a simple and secure way for people to access their account information across web and mobile platforms. In another category, Yelp was focused on crowd-sourced reviews that gave users an idea if they would be interested in various types of merchants. They also partnered with some stores to provide discounts to customers who booked directly through the website, but this was not the core value offering. 
Our key takeaway? Competitors were providing a specific and well thought-out service for their users. Joinesty incorporated elements of these services in its offerings without focusing on any of them. This diminished its perceived value to potential users. 
Heuristic Evaluation
The UX team also performed a Heuristic Evaluation in order to provide the client with suggestions on improving the overall site usability. Each designer performed an individual HE on their own and we then compared results to uncover some overarching themes: 

- There was a general lack of hierarchy among elements
 - Users did not have the ability to alter the default state of the dashboard
- Dashboard cards did not provide enough description
- Interactions did not feel intuitive
- The browse feature was difficult to find and use
Black Hat Review
In order to dig deeper on potential usability issues within the Joinesty site, we performed a black hat review on several main areas of the site. This included the dashboard, membership and profile pages. 
After analyzing the results of our heuristic eval and blackhat review, we concluded that improved wayfinding, universally recognizable iconography, and user/site flow mapping would provide the greatest value to the site in terms of increasing usability.
After discussing the results of our research with the Joinesty founders, they asked the design team to provide ideas on  narrowing the focus of their offerings. This led us to the idea of providing unique concepts for the client to consider. Based on our research, it was clear that being able to discover new sites and services was quite possibly the most appealing value that Joinesty could provide.
Concept One
We decided to tailor the first concept to the "traditional" Joinesty experience but still maintain discovery as a priority among other features.

Joinesty homepage

In addition to the home page, we wanted provide additional wireframes that highlighted the most integral elements of the Joinesty service. This included company cards or tiles, a company page, and the user memberships portal. 

Memberships page

Company card

Expanded company card

Concept Two
The second concept focused entirely on discovery by letting the Joinesty algorithm provide personalized recommendations based entirely on the user's data along with anonymous community data. This would remove the social networking features of the site, but provide a more streamlined experience for the user. While it was considered a more radical idea and not likely to be adopted by the client, we felt it was important to provide another option that more clearly focused on services that would most likely appeal to the user. 

Joinesty homepage

Search results page

Our final deliverables for the client included a prototype of the first concept along with a UX Brief that provided a summary of the insights we gained throughout our extensive research of the Joinesty service. The owners of Joinesty then worked with our UI Designers to create some high fidelity mockups based on the wireframes we provided to the client during the Ideation phase. 
We knew that it was important to test our interactions with wireframes before moving forward with higher fidelity representations of the Joinesty website. We created the following prototype and tested it with users in the target demographic, recording their actions to determine if there were opportunities to improve key task flows. After iterating on the design multiple times, we felt comfortable provinding the UI designers with a framework for the redesigned Joinesty website.*
*While the prototype below is shown under the Implementation portion of this case study for purposes of the final deliverables, we prototyped extensively during the Ideation phase. 
High Fidelity Mockups
Our UI Designers used the wireframes that we provided to create these high fidelity mockups for our stakeholders, who provided extremely positive feedback on the overall design.

Joinesty homepage

Company page

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