UX prototype and UX implementation for a Community online

Client aim

Talawa Theatre Company, a black-led touring theatre group based in the UK, had launched a major initiative called Talawa Make. This initiative aimed to support black British artists at every stage of their careers by providing bespoke talent development to ensure the future diversity of British theatre. Talawa Make was delivered in four stages: Engage, Grow, Collaborate, and Sustain.

Their goal was to create an online community that enabled artists to connect with each other, find out about activities and opportunities, and contact agents, casting directors, producers, and other industry professionals. They believed that this platform, with its strong focus on UX prototype and UX implementation, would be crucial in helping black artists thrive in the theatre industry and make their mark on the world of theatre.

They were supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and worked with several partner organisations across the UK, including the Royal Exchange Theatre, Camden People’s Theatre, Voyage Youth, and Sustained Theatre Up North.

My Role

As an UX Designer, my role on the Talawa Make project was to lead the design efforts and create a user-friendly online community for artists. This included conducting research and gathering insights, developing UX prototypes and concepts, and collaborating with the development team on the UX implementation.

To achieve this, I took a narrative design approach, which helped me to understand the member journey and create a more intuitive and user-friendly experience. I also researched and evaluated different platforms and technologies, such as Drupal and Open Social, to determine the best fit for the project.

Throughout the process, I worked closely with the client to ensure that the UX design met their needs and aligned with the goals and objectives of the Talawa Make initiative. I also led efforts to evolve the project and address customer pain points related to the complexity of the community.

Overall, my goal was to create a high-quality and user-friendly online community that enabled artists to connect with each other, find out about activities and opportunities, and access resources and support in the theatre industry.

Problem to Solve

Talawa Make, a black-led UK theatre initiative, aimed to support black British artists at all stages of their careers. They launched an online platform to connect artists, provide information on opportunities, and allow artists to contact industry professionals. The goal was to support black artists in the theatre industry and increase diversity in the field. The challenge was to create a user-friendly platform that met the needs of the artists and achieved the goals of Talawa Make.

Desired Outcome

Create a user-friendly online platform that facilitated connection and collaboration among artists, provided access to resources and opportunities in the theatre industry, and offered support to artists.
To achieve this, the platform implemented strategies to lower the barrier to contribution, make participation a side effect of other actions, allow users to edit rather than create from scratch, reward participants, and promote quality contributors. The ultimate goal was to avoid participation inequality, where a small number of users dominate the platform.

The importance of UX prototype and UX implementation

Prototype to explore solutions. In the early stages, after wireframing the main layout, I have created static prototypes (jpg images) to explore ideas of concepts: use of the colour palette, use of the fonts, UI, main profile page, member content page, etc. Mostly done for the core team, this type of prototype helped us to compare different options and prospective setting a leading way to design and to build the website hierarchy and key pages. Prototype to evaluate We used this prototype to understand how people experience some key user journeys, as per Log-in, create and manage My account, write message between users and create content.

Each specific key user journeys was built in the development site and an evaluative prototyping session was created with a specific set of questions. A group of selected users, related to the personas of the website, were our testers. Key personas were: Artist, Industry and Admin of the platform.

Prototype to present. Always in the development website, we built new functionalities with a complex user journey, as the map with the locations of the members. The prototype, in this case, was followed by a step by step guide and a focus group to test the user journey with a follow-up set of questions. This helps us to make decisions on how to reduces friction in the journey and to easily allow the user to reach the scope of the journey: locations and proximity with events and other members of the community.

Implementation of the design. With two different offshore Drupal developers team working on the website, I suggested using Jenkins – Git Hub, an open-source automation server, to implement functionalities to the development site first and then, once approved, to the live website. With the same approach, we run the beta version of the platform with approximately a hundred members: artists, agents, casting directors, producer and similar roles in the theatre industry. Running the beta version was needed to refine the user journey of key functionalities.

Layout page for Profile artist
layout page for setting profile industry

Audience & Login process

The distinction in the audience was delivered through site registration, defining key audiences of Artists & Industry contacts.

  • Artists had full registration setting which allowed them to specify their occupation (writer, director, theatre-maker, etc.) and key skills and interests. This data formed the foundation of their artist profile and could be used to profile site assets to match their needs: workshops, job offers, etc.
  • Industry had a more streamlined registration, which allowed them to specify their occupation and interests. This audience had their own profile” so that Artists could know about who they were.
  • Casual users who were not registered or logged in were able to browse the site and review any content that had not been tagged as a private/premium.
  • Each of the Artist members had their own profile page, which could also act as their own personal home page.

Other sections

Using CK-Editor, the platform included user-friendly content tools that allowed site managers and members to upload content and assets for events, blogs, forums, etc. These systems included options for adding rich text (with wysiwyg editors) to create blogs, news, press releases, events, opportunities, interactive maps, resources, FAQs, forms, etc.

Events & workshops. The platform included a system for posting events to an interactive calendar for promoting Talawa activity. Members were able to review upcoming events and sign up to attend. After the event, members were able to review event’s materials, post comments about the event, and see themselves tagged as attendees.

Job & Opportunities. The platform included a content type of publishing jobs, opportunities, and voluntary positions. This functionality was available for Artists and Industry members as well as Talawa, so opportunities could be posted from all parts of the community.

layout page which show artists' location on map
layout page fro homepage website