Case Study of

WeShareDesks: A marketplace for office space

This case study presents my final project for the UX/UI Ironhack Bootcamp, which I conducted for the early stage start-up WeShareDesks. Many companies nowadays are found for various reasons in the position that they have more desks at their offices than employees. To use more efficiently their space and resources, open themselves to collaboration opportunities, and network many decide to sublease their unused spaces. At the same time a vast number of people working from the home search for alternative solutions to change the scene of their working routine. WeShareDesks meets the needs of these two groups, by creating a marketplace to trade unused office space. The goal of this project was to create a responsive website that will enable companies to submit their spaces and people and companies in search of working places to book them.

Problem Statement

When I started working on the project I was assuming that what the companies need is a straightforward process regarding submitting a space and the booking process. But from the first moment of my research, I realized that there is more than this. It became clear to me that money is just one of the reasons for the companies to sublease their unused spaces. As the other important reasons are to collaborate and network, it makes sense for the companies to be able to choose who is going to work with them. Another reason for this need is that many companies have an established working culture that makes them happy. Thus, they want to be very careful about who to bring in their spaces so that this person harmonizes with it. In the other users’ group, those in search of a working place, affordability and proximity of the spaces were the main concerns.

With these in mind, I started thinking of a website that would give authority to the companies to choose who is going to work with them, while at the same time offering affordable solutions.

Users & Audience

As what WeShareDesks offers involves two groups of users, those who offer the space and those who want to rent it, I structured my research and my design on them. I wanted to know for each group, how they will use the website, and what they expect from it. I interviewed 5 people in home-office or freelancers, and two companies with unused desks in their offices that they would consider subleasing. For the first group, it was very easy to find people to interview, as working from home tends to be the new normal. For the second group though, it was more complicated… I had to search in different start-up channels and groups on slack, Facebook, and Linkedin and I managed to find just two to interview. Luckily, there has been enough written about this issue in different articles to back up my findings.

Based on the summing up of the data I collected on the research, I created two personas: Adrian and Kate

Adrian works from home and although he finds many advantages in his flexible working condition he misses the feeling of leaving home and going to work.

Kate wants to sublease the unused working desks of the startup that leads but she wants to choose who to bring in their office.

Scope & Constraints

The scope of the project was to create a responsive website for the MVP of WeShareDesks in a four-week time. An important aspect of my work was to define together with the company the MVP. Discussing the MVP was a bit tricky, as what they asked from me initially was not matching what I was considering that should be done according to my research. Initially, they wanted to offer just the option for people searching for a desk to book it, but this was different from what the companies want, i.e. to choose who will come and work with them. It took us two zoom meetings until we decided what would be the optimal solution.

Moreover, the lack of established customer relationships of the company was a significant constraint, as there were no users for my research. Thus, I had to search for potential users to interview.

This is the first project that I conducted with a real client. Along with the design thinking process I had to consider solutions appropriate for WeShareDesks. Moreover, some important elements for the UI part, such as colors and the logo, were given. It was a completely different approach compared to the previous project that I did in the Bootcamp. It was challenging but also very rewarding when it finally took shape!

Process

Before I got to know WeSharDesks and their product I started with desktop research on desk sharing and how the co-working spaces work to prepare myself for the meeting with the client. At that point, I also searched for competitors to see what’s on the market and how they do it. Then I met the company and they informed me about their vision, expectations, and strategy and we discussed what should be the MVP, as well as their expectations from me.

As the product involves two groups of users, those who have space to offer and those interested in renting working places, I interviewed companies with a surplus of working space to represent the one group and people in the home office and freelancers to represent the other.

Interviews with companies with a surplus of working space
Affinity Diagram of interviews with people in the home office and freelancers

Some important findings I got are the following:

  • 80% of the people working in the home office, would love to go to a co-working space but they find it too expensive
  • For the companies interested in subleasing their unused working space it is important to have a sort of authority to choose who will come and work in their space
  • Apart from the money, there are also other motives to sublease the unused working space such as collaboration opportunities and networking

Based on these key findings I created my personas and their user journeys and I started ideating. I created a value proposition canvas, where I put the pain points and the gains of the users and I started brainstorming on possible features.

Value Proposition Canvas

Then I prioritized them with a MoSCoW diagram and I finalized my ideas about how the product should be. This is reflected in the value proposition:

For companies that want to sublease their unused desks and need to have the authority to choose who is going to work with them and for people and companies that need to find affordable working desks “WeShareDesks” is a marketplace for office space that helps users to select with whom they are going to work with to maintain a harmonic working environment and unlock collaboration opportunities while trading office space.

As a next step, I put everything on a sitemap and I created the flows for the MVP. I decided to show the following actions:

  • How to search for a space
  • How to respond to a request of someone to work with a company
  • How to submit a space to sublease

Nextly, I started sketching and I created the first series of wireframes, which I tested and I continued with my favorite part: the UI.

Visual Competitive Analysis

I already knew the feeling that I wanted to give to the site. From the research phase, I realized that people search not just a space to work, but a space with specific qualities, and I decided to brand my product respectively. The brand attributes I wanted to give were: comfortable, personal, professional, social. I visited different sites to get inspiration and I collected all my findings in visual competitive analysis.

The Mood Board

Then I created a mood board, which I also tested and it gave the expected results. With all these in hand, I continued in the development of my final prototype, which I also tested in a desirability test.

Design Iterations
Design Iterations

I got the result that some of my pages were too formal and maybe boring so I decided to add some icons and micro-interactions to make them more friendly. After I finalized it I created a part of it responsive. Both of them are presented here.

Outcomes & Lessons

After the final presentation for my Bootcamp, I presented the prototype to the client, who was very satisfied. They liked the flow and my stylistic decisions and they said that they want to implement it. However, as they are in their very beginning, they still need to complete some other steps, such as finding an adequate number of companies before they proceed with it.

Working on this project and working for the first time with a client was an important lesson for me. I learned how to discuss my ideas with a non-designer and to support my choices based only on the findings of my research. Moreover, I learned to get less attached to my ideas and got ready to give up on ideas that initially enthused me but they do not work.

What could be done next?

As next steps I would do the following:

  • Develop a chat for quick and direct communication with the platform
  • Develop a search bar for the companies actively search for someone to work with them and invite them

Here’s the interactive prototype I used to validate my design solutions:

Thanks for checking out my post! Please feel free to provide comments or feedback below — I’m happy to improve as a designer!

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Vasiliki Bourli

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