Speakerinnen research project
The aim of speakerinnen online database is to increase the visibility of women in the field of public speaking. With the help of this portal, it will be easier for event organisers to find female experts to speak at their events.
The portal has two user groups: the event/conference organiser, and the speakers themselves who need to register, upload their information and maintain their profile.
This project showcases the first user group - the event/conference organisers who are in need to find professional women speakers.
Having built their initial website without a designer, Speakerinnen reached out seeking to optimise the experience for the users: conference organisers would eventually finish their journey and hire women speakers for their events, but the journey was a tough one/ Our assumption was that users who acknowledged the political importance of finding female speakers for their events would go through whatever it takes to find them, but this path was often frustrating, especially for first time users.
I interviewed the stakeholders about their frustrations and extracted data to show users' engagement in the platform.
The findings revealed a clear picture: The experience is poor, users get lost and drop out from their flows quickly. This conclusion was also backed up by emails sent to the systems admin, all pointing to the same direction:
The display of a random profile may suggest speakers without cultural diversity. For example, if you look at the screen now - all speakers are white. This is far from what we want to suggest, we need to figure out how to do it.
"We know as a fact that many users complete their task in finding a speaker, but the feedback we receive is that the interface is not at all supportive. Without a filtering system, it is almost impossible for them to make their choice efficiently"
Deciding to focus on the first user group (event organisers) we were set to establish the portal as a tool where one can find the right speaker in the easiest way.
Yet before tackling that issue, there was more ground work to be done, such as understanding who our users are and what their touch points with the platform are.
Mapping the touch points of each user group
Personas, based on Speakerinnen's database
PR manager at CESifo GMBH
“I will always aim for a 50% gender representation in my panels. As a professional speaker myself I often find myself the only woman in a panel. But I can not afford to settle for quality,
this is tricky”
Despite being aware of her power to influence female visibility in panels she organises. the quality of speakers does not always allow her to be in favor of one gender over the other.
Often fails to find female speakers in her immediate network
Feels responsibility towards her community, and thus feels guilty when ending up with an all male panel
A reliable source where professional female speakers can be found.
Needs a reliable way to assess their presentation quality.
Assistant office manager at a leasing firm
“I am aware of the misrepresentation of women in conferences and panels, but you have to understand that when you are under time pressure - you don't think about these things.”
Needs to prove his skills this year, can not afford to take chances on speakers he does not know, from his network or prior job.
Works in a male dominated sector and can not see how would he ever find more than maybe one professional speaker.
Needs to be 100% sure of the speaker's quality.
Needs to invite a speaker he already knows, or knows about from a recommendation.
How might we?
How might we help Gabi find professional, reliable, high-quality women speakers to speak at the panels she is organising?
How can she be sure of their quality?
How might we help Hans invite female speakers to his events, when he is under time pressure and can not afford the time to seek them?
Before diving into the user journey, the home page could be easily treated: the current way the information was organized was the first step of a frustrating journey.
The two different users that land on the same home page are not being led, but being sent to a journey of trial and error, in the hope they will land in the correct place. Using a simple card sorting exercise we changed the grouping of the items:
A new approach to the home page
A new user will now choose between a speaker flow or an event organiser flow.
Categories are displayed on the home page, in a way that the user can see their popularity. This feature brings in color, but also the feeling of a live and updated website.
Filtering system MVP
This system allows the user to choose multiple tags within multiple categories, with in the same filtering session.
This way, the user can be very specific regarding what speaker to choose, one that has, for example, knowledge about both climate change and law.
The user gets an overview of available speakers tagged by the different categories chosen on the screen before.
Clicking on each one of them leads to a profile page with detailed information and a contact option.
After performing a usability test with 4 users, I found many problems in this design: The tags which contain subcategories are overwhelming and are probably useless without a search filter, which we only planned to engage later on. Some functionality we thought would be useful, like the categories displayed at the home page when scrolling down, appears to be unclear and misleading.
Before we go on to the second user group there will be at least 2-3 iterations until the user testing finds success.