A platform for enterprise clients to hire independent consultants for project-based work.
UI/UX Design & Front-End Development
2016 - 2017
gocatalant.com
Catalant
A ground-up redesign

A few months into my time at Catalant, the engineering team decided to rebuild the platform to improve site performance and build a more flexible architecture to accommodate the upcoming roadmap. Many of our larger enterprise customers were starting to request additional custom functionality, and the existing platform was built in a way that was simply too rigid to accommodate many different forks.

The design team and I took this opportunity to address a number of problems we had recently observed.

Brainstorming

The process started with a stakeholder discussion to understand the problems with the existing platform.

UX Challenges

In my first few months, I had the opportunity to setup several phone calls with both supply users (consultants available for hire) and demand users (enterprise clients) to learn about their past experiences on the platform, what went well, and where the platform fell short of their expectations. Several challenges became apparent:

  • Flexible Contracts: The existing platform allowed consultants to propose a fixed fee for the work. Clients and consultants wanted the option to work on an hourly rate, to process partial milestone-based payments, and to extend a project beyond the initial scope of work.
  • Flexible Evaluation Process: The existing platform had guardrails in place that forced clients to (1) interview candidates, (2) request a proposal, and (3) finally hire a candidate, in that order. The reality is that candidates for a $200,000 project need to be more thoroughly vetted than those for a $2,000 project. Instead of forcing a step-by-step process, clients needed a toolkit that may be used to define their own hiring process.
  • Call Scheduling: The platform offered a call scheduling tool, but it was currently only offered at a single point in the hiring flow. Clients wanted the ability to schedule (and reschedule) many calls or interviews with a candidate.
  • Associate Service Layer: The relationships between clients and candidates were managed by an associate at Catalant. The role of this associate, and the value they offered to both clients and candidates, was loosely defined, which created confusing states on the platform at any step where the associate would step in to move things along.

The decision to not only rebuild the platform but to also redesign the platform was made late. The engineering team was already well on their way to setting up and thinking through the architecture of the new application. Our process was rushed as we worked to get a design skeleton in place that would accommodate the anticipated enterprise customization, address the challenges we had observed, and give the engineering team enough guidance to start to build in the right direction.

Wireframing

Through some early wireframing, we came up with a layout that might work.

UX Solutions

Early in the process, we landed on a framework that would include an in-project experience and an out-of-project experience with navigational components based on that context, for each of our three user types: clients, consultants, and internal associates.

The driving assumption was that when a user is working on a project - either as a client who is evaluating candidates, or as a candidate who is drafting a proposal - they are intensely focused on that project. Removing the global navigation from view and replacing it with navigational components to help reinforce their focus and drive the project forward. This opened up real estate on the interface to put important tools more front and center.

The in-project experience used a multi-column layout. For clients, the three column layout included a left-hand secondary navigation, allowing them to easily jump between candidate workspaces. The candidate workspace, which took up the remainder of the space, allowed clients to review the candidate’s profile or proposal side-by-side next to the discussion with that candidate. This candidate workspace was also armed with a flexible call scheduling tool, allowing the client to naturally define their own hiring process.

Comparison

Comparison of the original project workspace vs. the redesigned workspace.

Remaining Challenges

The role of the internal associate was still unclear, and this lack of clarity manifested itself in the platform in a way that continued to create confusion and friction. I believe there is an opportunity to position this internal role as a value-add for both sides of the marketplace, and to put this concierge-like service front and center in the platform. Unfortunately, I moved on from Catalant before getting the opportunity to lead a design process to bring clarity to this role.

Robinson Greig

Freelance UX Designer in Cambridge, MA

Work with me

robinson[at]greig.io