Placetailor: April 13, 2016

Since our presentation from last class and receiving feedback about our progress, we have decided to move in the direction of building a working prototype of a website for Co-Everything. In agreement with some of the feedback comments from last time, studies various existing platforms, including Loconomics, TaskRabbit, and even non-coop related companies such as Airbnb, in order to develop the structure of our website. Our analyses allowed us to compare pros and cons of the various platforms and to see which one would suit our prototype’s needs to best. (We made many hypotheses about what would work best, so this is where testing would help us decide what really works best.) For example, the platforms had different ways of implementing a messaging system, and we tested which one we liked more and which one we thought would be most appropriate for Co-Everything. There were also many of the same features across all platforms, which we decided to keep the same for Co-Everything as well, thinking with a “if it works, don’t fix it” mindset. Because most of our users so far are co-op members, we decided to concentrate on building the coop-side portion of our prototype for this week and identified communication towards clients as the key feature to focus on first. Below our some photos of website page layouts for some of the features we thought about.

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The website ( that allows users to sign up as a co-op organization and set up a co-op account that provides a public profile towards clients and a messaging system with clients. The prototype can be used by co-ops to test out usability and efficiency of joining Co-Everything and getting in contact with new clients, which is something to aim for for our next step.

Right now, you can access the home page using the URL. From there you can press “Sign Up” and then the “Co-op” tab. The pop-up will lead you to creating your co-op profile page. After that, you can view your profile and also click on the “Inbox” tab in which you can see messages with clients.

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In addition to this week’s progress, team responsibilities have become more defined as we are becoming more clear about specific project requirements for Co-Everything. Allan expressed interest in conducting interviews each week with users, which will help with acquiring feedback and gaining key learnings on our user audiences. Kai and Lucia are more interested in prototyping the actual product of Co-Everything, since it involves more of the UI/UX design aspects of the project. This week, Lucia took on the task of paper-prototyping while Kai implemented it into a clickable prototype using Axure RP. In the future, Travis, Declan, and Samer are planning on working with existing platforms more in order to bring in more data and information about what Co-Everything eventually develop into. This is a current rough outline of team roles that we plan on defining more in the following week.

Overall, our team has made a lot of progress in terms of the actual prototype and team roles. Moving on, we hope to gain more feedback about Co-Everything and use the feedback to iterate and build upon our working prototype. Until next time!

Vida Verde – Decisions, Decisions

Since our last post, we’ve made a lot of progress in a number of areas, including identifying what we do and don’t know, figuring out what still needs to be tested, and ruling out some potential product ideas. We went through all of our notes, including intensively reviewing the feedback from customers, cleaners, and coordinators, to really drill down on what would be the most helpful and productive tool for Vida Verde right now. Our findings can be found in our presentation.

One avenue we were previously pursuing was a potential partnership with New York-based Si Se Puede!, a women’s housecleaning cooperative, which currently has grant funding to build out an app to streamline and manage the administrative needs of cooperatives. Obviously, there are a number of synergies between this initiative and the goals of our project, so we were hoping to either gain access to their code or to the app itself for testing purposes. Unfortunately, we had to abandon this route after it became clear that they were not on a timeline that would match up with the schedule of this class, so we returned to the drawing board.

Throughout the process, we’ve been hearing a great deal from all sides about the challenges of scheduling and general client interaction given the lack of staff capacity. Accordingly, we have been entertaining the idea of focusing our product around coordination for several weeks now. This week we zeroed in on three concrete ways this could potentially manifest. The three products we designed prototypes for are: 1. instant quote widget: allows people to get an instant online quote without having to go through the coordinator first; 2. cleaner/client communication and translation interface: texting interface that allows clients and cleaners to easily translate their messages between English and Portuguese without the extra step of copying and pasting into/from Google Translate; and 3. Google Calendar app for managing schedules: Google-based platform to allow cleaners and coordinators to transition from the current physical spreadsheet-based system to a digital version for increased convenience.

In terms of next steps, we’re looking forward to getting feedback in class on these prototypes, and also to testing them with the cleaners and coordinators at Vida Verde. We may decide that all of these are necessary components of an integrated coordination product, or we may end up only focusing on one of the three. Either way, we’re excited about these options and the potential they have to help Vida Verde streamline their operations and free up staff capacity for other critical tasks.

CERO: Zero Waste for the people by the people

CERO – Making it Viral


One of our main findings from the interviews is that there is not that much incentive to use CERO other than it is an environmentally friendly and that it is a local co-op. When we went to the foodies festival, we realized that the people knew a lot about composting, they did not know about resources other there. The ones that did, did not know CERO. The restaurants that we talked to simply did not understand composting and CERO had to be explained to them every time what CERO does and how composting can help. With regards to government institutions, there is not enough pressure from the outside and even from the inside to really make head way. From all these groups, the conclusion is that CERO does not have a big enough importance, and that there is too much blockage for CERO to push through to get the contract everytime.

Therefore, our group believes that a campaign to demystify CERO, and make CERO more accessible to not just business but the innovators, the environmentally focused people will help alleviate some of the pushing that CERO does every time CERO starts up a new contact. CERO should not just be a co-op and a company that does composting, it ought to be an idea behind composting and what people can do to make composting possible, such as hiring CERO or going to business that composes with CERO, or supporting this idea of CERO: Zero Waste for the people by the people.  The best way to do so is to create a campaign. Initially, we wanted to steered away from anything education and having to teach the community what composting and that point is still true. However, our goal is to get the community involved cause we believe that is what makes CERO unique. It is the fact that it is a co-op by the people for the people.

Part of doing that means that as a team, we need to create all the content that is needed for the campaign. Part of that requires us to distill down all this information regarding what exactly CERO is. Currently, we think that there is too much information and it doesn’t get straight to the point enough. Another part of the challenge is that we need to figure out ways to automate the process, and we need to figure out a way to keep the momentum going. From an MIT student perspective, if there a way to automated all this for CERO so they don’t have to spend so much energy on it that would be great. We’ve been looking at some email scripts and twitter bots that can help do this. Because, after the project, we hope the campaign is still maintained and give CERO the tools to do so. We are looking to build an interactive website of infographics, a set of DIY stickers showing your support for CERO, a web page that’ll tell people about the companies that partner with CERO and that they should go there.
Current Slides:

Placetailor – First Presentation

In the time between now and our last blog post, we’ve made some pretty big strides. After interviewing Josh, the founder of Loconomics which is a San Francisco based network of freelancers that essentially functions as a worker-owned TaskRabbit, we’ve decided to collaborate and help Josh with his launch as well as thinking about that in perspective of our original idea of Co-Everything, a network of co-ops functioning on a co-op to co-op as well as a co-op to customer set up.

As of right now, Loconomics functions solely as a tool for freelancers. Josh has given us access to the developers version of the tool so that we can preview its functions and use it to learn something about our own assumptions as well as their own. This past week, each member of our team took the time to set up an account on the website from the client and service provider sides. Both sign up pages look very similar, but the functions within each account, once established, are very different. On the service provider side, you are able to create your own (very limited) freelancer profile. This profile includes an “about me” section as well as education information and a job title. From here, you are also able to set up your available scheduling for your services. On the client side, you are able to sign up and search for available services. Currently, there are only sample services in the developer’s version. For example, you are able to search for “Services for your Home.” From here you are given options like “Housecleaning,” “Painters,” and “Gardeners.” You can then select your preferred services and “book” an appointment to have something done when you add your payment information as well as your top three preferred time slots.

I think one of our most important next steps is deciding exactly how closely we want to work with Loconomics and whether our original idea of Co-Everything is Loconomics itself, or whether it will just feature different aspects of Loconomics platform. We’ve discussed this issue in terms of how our tool would be different if we did gear it towards co-ops as opposed to just freelancers, such as different use of language, collective identity (in terms of signing up as a co-op and beyond), and a user base of members within each co-op. We are also interested in how we could localize the tool and make it more Boston-related and cater towards different socio-economic groups. Currently, Loconomics offers services like  dog-walking and massages, which insinuate that it is geared to those who have the disposable income to splurge on such things; we would like to make it more universal and accessible to those who may not have the same privilege.

As for our next steps, we would like to use our real-world user testing to test which assumptions about the current platform are true or false and record and report back to the Loconomics team. For example, who has or doesn’t have access, who is being included or excluded, who is the target audience (TaskRabbit users)? With this information we’d like to delve deeper into figuring out what kind of relationship we actually want to have with Loconomics.

There are some exciting things ahead and we are interested to see where this next week takes us.

Link to our slide deck:


Restoring Roots – First Presentation

This past week was a busy one! We met on a couple of occasions to clarify our goals and actions, and it worked out pretty well. Each team member took on various activities where they felt they could contribute best, and then delivered on it.

Creation of our presentation turned out to be a great review of where we stand, and what challenges we might have coming our way. The trans-media campaign is approaching actionable public efforts, and given we pay close attention to how it plays out, we could learn a lot in the process of getting it out there.

Throughout our meetings, everyone engaged to help define this trans-media campaign more succinctly. Noah established a set of hash tags we could use, each based upon a single tenet of the principals of permaculture. We all discussed how we could get the message out there: where should it be shared, by whom, when, and how can we assess the impact. Of course, additional questions arose as we progressed, such as “How do we reach social media influencers, and are they likely to help?” Updates to our canvas continue to capture needed resources, partners, and additional questions that have come up.

In our presentation – which was a great group effort led by Hannah – you can find the overview of our progress. The wire frame put together by Andres demonstrates the campaigns overall look, feel, and some example content for Restoring Root’s site.

Interviews have also continued as necessary as well, with Bridgett spearheading research on multiple fronts: her interviews ranged from commercial grass blend/breeding operations to the Amish, and finally with indigenous North Americans.

Otherwise, Restoring Roots has been busy preparing for launch of a campaign. Currently, Noah is ensuring their site has good metrics being captured so we can make measurements moving forward.