PIPELINE: The Plumbers' Network

Fall 2014, IXD Studio Team Project with Jane Lien and Xiaowei Jiang
Instructor: Professor John Zimmerman
My role: Group iteration on value diagram, scenario, and interaction model,
individual work on UI designs for dashboard and web version + 2 mobile screens

01. Design Brief

Design a new mobile service that allows plumbers to rapidly build teams in response to unfolding projects and helps more junior plumbers to pick up additional work when starting out. I was mainly responsible for design work of the mobile landing page for the business owner, the history page for the freelance plumber, the web version of the app, and the dashboard that captures a monthly overview of the business performance.

02. Opportunity Space & Persona

The team worked together on ideating and iterating the overall service system and the the step-by-step interface sequence catered around two personas: an owner of a small plumbing business and a freelance plumber. Through multiple iterations, we designed a service that provides plumbing businesses accurate and speedy data on freelance availabilities and gives freelance plumbers more visibility to employers.

03. Process through Iterated Scenarios

Throughout the project, the team made multiple iterations and edits on the scenario. We discussed different situations and opportunities that may prompt the use of the app. The initial three scenarios discussed use cases as follows —

1) Katia observes a temperature drop and predicts a surge in demand for plumbers. She uses Pipeline to find freelance plumbers that have previous work experience with her or her friends.

2) Katia finds a long-term gig that requires more plumbers in her team. She uses Pipeline to recruit freelance plumbers that are available during the project period.

3) Tony suddenly gets a family emergency and can't get to his morning gig. He quickly searches through Pipeline to find a replacement.

04. Refined Scenario Walkthrough

Q: How and when should the users be charged for the service?

Users updating work availability should not be charged as to motivate them to create and maintain a usable database. Users looking for freelance workers are assumed to be business owners with more incentive to pay for the service. They would be charged every "search" that generates a usable set of results.

Q: How should the results appear?

Results of available workers should appear in the order of familiarity. It's not necessary to display the detailed algorithm, but users should be able to make sense of the list.

Katia searches for freelance plumbers available between Nov 3 and Nov 9. After confirming Tony's availability initially through the app and then through a phone call, she schedules him in.

Q: How should the scheduling sequence occur?

After confirming availability in person (via phone or texting), the business owner prompts the scheduling. The freelance worker receives the scheduling notice and is asked to confirm.

Q: What is considered as availability?

We account for changeability of schedules and leave legroom for prioritizing and shifting times. For example, if the freelance worker is already booked for a one-day gig during a possible longer gig, the search result overrides the smaller gig (assuming less priority) and shows the user as available. When the new schedule is written in, the interface indicates a conflict of schedule and requests for an adjustment.

After Katia marks Tony on her calendar, a notice is sent to Tony. The system overrides bigger projects over previously scheduled smaller ones.

05. Web Version & Dashboard

Pipeline Web summarizes upcoming work schedules and archives old arrangements. The main page shows a snippet of the account activity. The design creates a simple interface where the user can quickly glance over her business and quickly find freelance workers.

The dashboard is constructed based a number of assumptions and trajectories we project for the app.

First, we assume that there will be a constant flow of demand and supply of work. Here, the dashboard displays the number of search performed each day throughout the month of September. The sudden jump in the middle of the month possibly indicates an unforeseen weather anomaly, and the gradual increase of searches is reflective of the change in season.

On the supply side, we want to make sure that as many of those marked as available for work get hired. The dashboard draws out a monthly overview as well as the average percentage of people hired. On the demand side, we want to check how frequently the businesses revisit the app to ensure constant use from each user, and the dashboard keeps track of time elapsed between each visit for individual businesses.

As lastly, the dashboard checks for whether the app is making money and provides an up-to-date revenue figure.