User Stories

The internet was invented for communication. One person can communicate to others in so many ways these days. I think something that can really help us reach our goals are to help others communicate with each-other and do what we can to best support them. There are those seeking to do better in the community and might not know how. They might be looking for a chance to offer help or set up a free concert on the hill. The best way we can attract are to seek those looking to make a change and support them with the products being offered. With our platform we can connect communities to the world in a way that’s easy, modern, and welcoming.

One user I have in mind is Madeline. Madeline’s user story goes something like this:

She’s 16, hopes to graduate high school with honors and some community distinction for her college resume. She decides getting some volunteer hours or participate in a community-focused event. Madeline goes online to see what’s in her area and finds an event in her search results that is happening this weekend. The posting is on focal local.

From this story so far, I ask this: How might we entice Madeline to signup? I have some ideas on how this story can progress but let’s focus on this part of this particular user journey.

If content is hidden behind signup, can she even participate? This makes FocalLocal more exclusive than inclusive (and goes against one of the three principles I listed above). Lazy signup can help alleviate this.

So now Madeline can see content on the site because of a lazy registration pattern. This now begs a question: “What is something she can benefit from by signing up”?

A suggestion can be

  • she can RSVP to the event by offering a member’s only-type gift. So stickers and a shirt can be offered at the event (the event itself should also be a project on it’s own.Being able to show support irl instead of just over the internet can hit so many points).

  • Maybe a reward system for participating (Think google giving gifts for those who regularly review places on google maps).

  • Records of participation? (This would have to be hidden as it wouldn’t be important to others who are not similar to Madeline)

I just used this example so we can think more in depth for the user. What can pull a visitor in? (When our goals align with theirs) and what might pull the trigger? (How can ask for a response or action).

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Another use story I have is Eric.

This is just a side note btw and I just wanted to write it down to reference later,

Eric is 35 and works at a nearby retirement home. He’s hoping to help the retirement community by reaching out to the surrounding community and hopes to host events for both the retirement community and the neighborhood. Eric decides to host a day-long knitting and crochet event. Partcipants are encouraged to come and make stuff together.

How might Eric make this event? He signs up so he can make a posting and ask for advice from other’s on how to make it successful on a related discussion forum. FocalLocal can send him a box full of things he can use for the event (Name tags, markers, stickers, etc).

How can we make that signup process be easy, painless, and not ask too much information at once? The focus would be making that event, not signing up. Signing up is just a way to get to what he really wants to do. Not something that should block him.

We could use Facebook or Google OAuth and if not then just ask for an email and password first and let Eric finish his profile whenever he wants (put a completion meter to encourage him to finish, humans love task lists []).

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The way i see things for Madeline right now would be;

a. She see’s something on normal social media going on nearby aiming to benefit her local community in an area she’s passionate about (isolation, elderly care, homelessness) that she wants participate in. We’d achieve this by encouraging users to participate in advertising the activity via social media sharing links in the page, and allowing the organiser to post missions that attendees can complete so they are supporting the organiser as active participants.
On social media posts we do not share the exact meeting place or time, so she has to join our platform to find out more.

b. She hears about our community and comes across to see if there is something nearby she can engage in. She signs up and looks around. either there is, awesome! or if not we find some way to encourage her to create her own, and have experienced members from other locations around the world support her in this endeavour. I think that is a function that would appeal to many long term users, being able to guide and help new members get active. The maps are designed to automate as much of this process as possible, including sharing a basic stock description alongside something of her own and providing pre-approved suggestions.

Check out our whitepaper this is designed to operate as an incentive, and a way to record and recognise her efforts. either as a financial reward in our token, or as an internet points, badges and internal rankings system (depending how successful it is). In fact the idea came from me planning out an internet points system, and then realising i’d basically designed a token… so i began exploring that more

Erik is a good example.

We need some way to keep the activities on the map constrained within our community values to keep the direction of the mission and prevent endless misuse of the system, and yet allow creative freedom for ever more effective ideas to create positive impact to flow into our site.

this is also important to allow the community to guide new ideas which sound good to the user, but may ultimately cause harm. for example, we used to go and give out sandwiches to the homeless in london - only to find out that about half the people didn’t want them as finding food wasn’t an issue for them. more concerning was that many of our members came wanting to take photographs of themselves with the people who were homeless to show their friends the ‘good things they were doing’. we made some of the people we interacted with that day uncomfortable, like a zoo attraction. It was quickly stopped on the day, and this is something more experienced members can easily offer guidance on after seeing the idea posted as a proposal/suggestion in the forum. Helping the well-intentioned organiser design the activity to create social good, rather than accidental harm.

Eriks idea isn’t yet in our list of pre-approved Public Happiness Activities, but it certainly does fit, or can easily be adapted to fit. Erik could either:

a. search ‘retirement community’ or ‘crotchet’ to see what creative ideas have been suggested and approved before. these he can instantly post on the map, and invite people nearby to join him.(note: our current categories system is designed for up to 80 activities, after that it will begin to break down and need refining).

b. Erik could post his idea in the suggest/propose new public happiness activities section in the forum (currently located in the Action Center, but should probably be moved into the Maps). The 1st stage is just a general discussion, then Erik would fill in a form for creating a new Public Happiness Gathering.
Other members the chance to discuss his idea at both stages and help him shape it to maximise its effectiveness, and to point out any potential issues they see (with a heavy focus on positive feedback and shaping). It will then be voted onto the map, or if not Erik can try it on normal social media with his friends.

Erik fills in a report afterwards with his experience and the things he learned/tips for others in the future. This is published in our community news section, and a vote held for users to decide if the idea was considered a success. if yes it is added to our pre-approved list for other users around the world to recreate where they live (and shape for their own cultural or personal requirements). If not, perhaps someone else will see the idea, adapt it and try again, or Erik will.

It’s cool. I know what I said was what y’all were already saying, I just wanted to regurgitate it in a story type of way. I guess to circle the conversation back to the home page, what sort of experience can we give Eric and Madeline to entice them to use the product and ultimately signup. As we go along, we can think about what features to disable or hide from the public but show to members.

@NJUX can we get a short or top-level user flow for some use cases from Eric and Madeline? I don’t think we need lots of detail yet. Just a starting point. “How does Eric and Madeline start looking for what they need from the home page if they started there”? I’ll show how this goes into play in a bit.

@danyalamriben can you prioritize what features to display on this page and help me by directing me on where to start with setting goals for wire-frames and mock-ups?

I.E. If Eric stumbled upon FocalLocal from google search results, he would land on the home page. He learns what organization he is looking at and how our goals align with his; Gathering the community for some togetherness. How can he start using the product? Would he start a search for events around him to help his mission? How would he go about that? Or would he try to organize something right away? How can we support him doing this?

@danyalamriben What features would be prioritized here? What would he need to know about the organization to learn our goals and his align? Also, How can we communicate that in a way that encourages him to signup? We can put a wall of text explaining stuff with a z-pattern layout,or we can maybe add some small modules that allow him to explore the product from the home-page. A long the way we can think about what features to restrict to the public vs member.

Everyone is welcome to chime in here. I was just trying to offer direction.

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@AlecAaron if you’re still active, here’s a user story for the Build side of the platform: Review Andy's proposed design for the new Action Center