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Beauhurst is a B2B SaaS platform where people can see information about high growth companies in the UK. We offer an add-on called "Networks", which adds data about the people at those high growth companies.
With Networks, you can find people and see what companies and funds they're involved with, their estimated paper worth, contact details, and so on.
The company wanted to add more value to Networks, and increase sales of the add-on. I was asked to design a feature that would let users take advantage of the add-on data, by letting them see how they are connected to people of interest. This is similar to LinkedIn's feature which shows you degrees of connection. We've called this feature "My Network". For example, if Person X wants to meet Person Z, our platform could tell them if there's any Person Y who could introduce them.
I didn't have a lot of time for research, and many of the people who use our platform are time-poor. I was only able to speak to one of our subscribers about this project before we got started. He works at a well-known bank which caters to wealthy individuals, so I've left out the details because I am not able to share them. We spoke about the following.
We also spoke about specifics to do with the feature - questions that I wanted answered based on our early internal discussions.
Our CEO decided that because of the short discovery phase, the feature should be split into several versions. The first version would be small enough to release quickly and get feedback from our users. Version 2 and onwards of the feature will involve some of the riskier technical challenges.
I pushed for a feasibility test to make sure the data we have on people was up to the challenge. Using our CEO as an example, the development team uploaded around 100 of his LinkedIn contacts and looked for 2nd degree connections. These were people that the CEO could could ask his contacts to put him in touch with. The platform came back with over 11,000 2nd degree connections, which easily demonstrated the potential of the feature.
The feature is designed to let the user mark the people they know in the platform. The user will then see an indicator next to any person's name on the platform, assuming that person is a 1st or 2nd degree connection.
One of the first design tasks I did was to audit the platform to find all of the places where we show people's names. Here's an example, with a particularly long name.
I had to make sure that whichever method we used to show degrees of connection would work in all of the places we show people names.
Next I thought about how the user could mark someone as known to them. I settled on a button that would appear in the header of a person's profile. The grey boxes on the buttons represent the icons that I had not designed yet.
I came up with 16 options for how the indicator next to people's names could look.
When I spoke to other people around Beauhurst about this, 16 was the clear winner. I included an icon in so many of the options because it would help "brand" the feature, which meant users would recognise it around the platform more easily, when they saw it.
I worked on some options for the buttons that subscribers would use to add people to their network of 1st degree connections.
Finally, when a user goes to the profile of a 2nd degree connection, we show a panel explaining how they're connected to that person. I mocked up some options for showing this data without overloading the page with details. We settled on the final option, which collapses some of the information if it's too long.
One of the features of the Networks add-on is a visual graph which shows how someone is connected to other people on the platform. We wanted to show degrees of connection in this graph as well. I mocked up these options, but this part of the feature was pushed back to a later version so that we could release the first version more quickly.
The early feedback on the feature is good, both internal and external. Our account management team is excited to show the feature to our subscribers, and the feedback from subscribers once they've seen it has been positive.
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