Loconomics x Co-Everything: Modeling an Online Marketplace for Co-ops & Freelancers

This last week we’ve come up with a title for our project. We’ve decided to call it “Loconomics x Co-Everything: Modeling an Online Marketplace for Co-ops and Freelancers. And, although there are two sides to our prototype (co-op and freelancer), this one photo best represents both sides of our project (as their respective profile pages are almost identical).

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Loconomics is an up and coming service-providing website and app co-founded by our extended client for this class, Joshua Danielson. This platform is similar to TaskRabbit, in which users can search for freelancers through the apps and alternatively freelancers can set up a profile and list their services to be hired.

Though it only exists as a prototype right now, Co-Everything is a single platform or reference list meant to help develop a network of cooperatives, local businesses, and future clientele in the Boston area. We aim to develop this platform to connect co-ops, local businesses, and freelancers with not only each other but with a consumer base as well. With our new excitement for the project at hand, we began focusing on creating a functional business model canvas for it.

Thus, we decided to combine our motivations behind Co-Everything to the current Loconomics platform by attempting to aid Loconomics in their beta stage. This collaboration includes testing the Loconomics prototype and finding ways they can improve based upon user feedback. By testing hypotheses through user testing and interviews and even building our own prototypes that serve similar functions, we hope to advance the effort connecting co-ops and clients through an online marketplace.

Co-ops need help connecting to other co-ops, connecting to clientele, advertising their services, and formalizing their transactions. On the other hand, consumers need help finding providers that match their values. This web platform will fulfill these needs and target towards consumers who are looking for specific services and those who want to support co-ops, local businesses, or freelancers. In addition to growing their consumer base, co-ops can benefit by finding other co-ops and freelancers.

The final version of the prototype ( http://ix8i2j.axshare.com/) has been updated with changes based on user feedback gathered at the DiscoTech. During this testing session we were able to see what may have not been as intuitive as we had thought as well as gather suggestions for how to improve it. A consistent issue we saw amongst almost every user was that they did not know that they had to switch tabs in the “Sign Up” pop-up in order to sign up as a co-op, freelancer, or client.  In order to remedy this mix up, Kai edited the prototype by changing and darkening the labeled tab fonts and bolding them upon selection to make these differences more prominent. In addition to this, upon opening the “Sign Up” page, the selected automatically tab was “Client” which was located all the way to the right, but we assumed since people read from left to right, that it may be more intuitive to have the far left tab to be the default selection.



In addition to this, another complaint we had with our prototype is that we should indicate which fields are required and which are optional during the profile creation stage in the setup process. We fixed this by adding the classic red stars next to required fields.

Another issue was with the “add service” field during setup and the “+” button which is intended to add the service and price of service to your listed services on your profile. We fixed this by making the hint text inside the “add service” textbox to “type to add service.” We also made this hint text a lighter font color to show that it is a field to be filled. Lastly, we added tooltips to the “type to add service” textbox, the “$/hr” textbox, and the “+” button. There was also some confusion when it came to the “add-on” option for services on a user’s service list, so there is now a tooltip for that as well.

In addition to these areas of confusion, users also had suggestions for additional features in the prototype. For example, a user said he’d like it if, when clicking on a message in the inbox, a pop-up would appear where the co-op or freelancer could message the client back. Following along this idea, we decided that the freelancer or co-op accept an inquiry and message back the client (but only after accepting the request). After accepting, the co-op or freelancer can see the client’s address and additional notes about the service request so that there is no breach of privacy and a client isn’t sharing their personal information with those they have not hired.

Our last major edit was adding a feature where you can schedule to add a booking by clicking directly on a date on the calendar on the scheduling page. This feature is located on the date “Friday, April 15” on the calendar.

Overall, there were a lot of great suggestions and this user testing proved to be essential to improving our prototype for Loconomics.

Link to our final presentation: http://bit.ly/co-everything-codesign-slides

Link to our Case Study: http://bit.ly/loconomicsXcoeverything-casestudy


DiscoTech Absence- prior commitment

Hi everyone!

As I wasn’t able to attend the DiscoTech on Sunday, I wanted to take the time to share where I was and what it has meant to me. Two years ago, during my second semester at Wellesley, I decided to apply to become a member of the Wellesley College Lecture Society. This long and grueling three week process eventually resulted in my and my class of 8 others being accepted into the society. Every semester we hold different themed lecture series and bring outside speakers to Wellesley’s campus to shed light on things that they are working on or are passionate about. For example, this semester’s lecture series has been all about Hip Hop and Technology and how the genre has changed throughout the years as well as it’s effect on Black culture and how it is perceived. We’ve brought speakers ranging from Kariann Goldschmitt, an ethnomusicologist, who spoke about Brazilian Hip-Hop and the Afro-diasporic imagination, to Prince Charles Alexander, a Berklee College Professor and famous producer, who talked about the evolution of technology in regards to how sounds have changed throughout hip-hop’s history. On Tuesday we even had a lecture by up and coming artist, Mari, who just graduated from Williams, and his manager J Harmony, a recent Columbia grad, about the struggles of being graduates from elite schools who could have gotten high-paying jobs, but instead stayed true to their passions in such a cut-throat industry. These lectures are advertised to everyone on and off campus and have sparked post-lecture talk-backs, where we invite others to gather and discuss what they’ve learned in an open forum.

In this four year society there are annual events such as senior reception and also different executive board member chairs (president, vps, lecture, publicity, web, etc.). This past Sunday was senior reception, a day long gathering where all 45 members of the society come together to celebrate those whose four years are coming to an end. During this time, we discuss the ups and downs of the societal structure and different changes that may help benefit us in the future. Each senior (in this case, 15 of them), have written a 10 minute long speech talking about what this society has meant for them in relation to their Wellesley experience and how it has helped them learn more about themselves and others. This event usually lasts about 5 or so hours and ends with a community dinner and voting for the passing down of new executive board member positions.

I’m sad I had to miss such an awesome event for testing our prototype, but feel confident in the feedback I’ve received from Declan, Micky, and Lucia that we’ve gained enough insight for me to edit our current prototype for the better in preparation for next week’s presentation. Hopefully in the future, some of you will be able to attend some of our society’s lecture’s on Wellesley’s campus too!


Placetailor: Further prototyping and thickening ties with Loconomics

This week we made some really important strides in our project: we finally established the type of relationship we are going to have with Loconomics. We’ve decided that instead of focusing on our idea of Co-Everything, which is essentially Loconomics for co-ops instead of freelancers, we are going to help Josh, the founder, with improving his current platform by performing A/B testing on both his prototype and our own with some improvements we believe would benefit his model.

Lucia began this task by mapping out features and functions on the Loconomics platform that we could apply to our own. We ourselves found challenges on the freelancer side of the app and incorporated these features with improvements to our prototype. Thus, Kai began to implement the clickable prototype. In order to more easily compare our prototype with Loconomic’s we decided to edit our prototype so that it catered towards freelancers and looked a lot more similar to Loconomics current platform (stylistically). We thought that Josh would be more open to change if he could visualize them on something that looked like his own platform.

Some of the features we added to our prototype included:

  • A dashboard (including upcoming bookings and new messages)

  • Scheduling and calendar functions

  • A client list (including their booking history and a fast way to reach their profiles)

Although Josh’s current Loconomics platform is essentially pretty intuitive, we made some changes that would decrease the amount of clicks necessary to reach a certain task as well as making the site more visually appealing without sacrificing its functionalities.

Dashboard Feature

  • Loconomics

    • As Loconomics currently does not let you save or book sample appointments, we weren’t able to see what they would look like on the platform, but we were able to click the links on the right sidebar that simply took you to another page on the website where you were able to complete these tasks (booking, adding a client, adding a job title, etc.)

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  • Our Prototype

    • In our prototype we decided to create sample bookings in order to visualize what that might look like and add a “New Messages” feature to our dashboard. We also decided to make the links in the right toolbar lead to pop up overlay where you could input the information without ever leaving the dashboard (you can also complete these tasks on other pages of the site, this is just a little shortcut!).

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Scheduling & Calendar

  • Loconomics

    • There is currently only one way to view appointments which is by day. Adding a new booking is ambiguous as there is no “add” button.

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  • Our Prototype

    • We decided to make the default calendar view a monthly one (with options to choose by week and by day) as well as to have an “Upcoming” section where upcoming bookings are easily accessed. From here, you can click on the booking (or the booking on the calendar) and a pop up overlay will display with further info on the booking (who, where, when, extra notes). You can also add a booking by clicking the “+” button on the top right of the page.

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Client List

  • Loconomics

    • There are currently no clients in the list, so we were not able to base our ideas off of the current model.

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  • Our Prototype

    • We thought that there should be a way to organize the client list, so there is a drop down which switches your view from “All Clients” to “Returning Clients” etc. You are also able to search through them alphabetically via the clickable letters on top. Ideally, you could also click the photo in order to go to the client’s profile (function not available in our current prototype). We also thought it might be beneficial to have the clients booking history to help for a more catered experience for returning customers.

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We were not able to schedule user testings in time to create our version of the Loconomics platform for A/B testing both models, so that will be our task for next week now that they are more stylistically similar and have similar functionalities.

As always, our clickable prototype is available here and please click the arrow on top of the green rectangle to illuminate what is clickable in the prototype if you are lost!

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: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1buh7rBaJpr3y5VaJ0GmFuv64AXP2pS2tCLqbV5lm-uc/edit?usp=sharing


Placetailor – Business Model Canvases

On Monday, February 29th, we met with Declan and Travis of Placetailor to discuss our three business model canvases as well as to complete and sign our working agreement. First, we determined which route we were most excited about and wanted to further explore from our original project ideas. We decided to incorporate quite a few of them into one bigger picture: a project we are calling Co-Everything.

Co-Everything is a single platform or reference list meant to help develop a network of cooperatives, local businesses, and future clientele in the Boston area. We aim to develop this platform to connect co-ops, local businesses, and freelancers with not only each other, but with a consumer base as well. With our new excitement for the project at hand, we began focusing on creating a functional business model canvas for it.

Co-ops need help connecting to other co-ops, connecting to clientele, advertising their services, and formalizing their transactions. And, on the flip side, consumers need help finding providers that match their values. By creating this platform, discussed as a possible website or mobile app (or both with a  responsive design), this will be targeted towards consumers who are looking for specific services and those who want to support co-ops, local businesses, or freelancers. Co-ops can also benefit by not only by growing their consumer base, but by networking with other co-ops, local businesses, freelancers, and service providers.

A way we thought of setting up the platform would be to have an entry, or subscription fee for co-ops, local businesses, and freelancers that want to join the company. This fee would then give them ownership of the company as well. Some ways that we would gain consumers and grow Co-Everything would be to design a platform that is most importantly intuitive and simplistic for both owners and consumers to interact hassle-free. Then, we can grow the ownership by leveraging our current networks in order to firstly get co-ops on board with joining Co-Everything, and then grow the network further by asking users to review and recommend this platform to others. We’d then incentivize co-ownership of the platform by providing special privileges for co-owners (such as discounts on co-op to co-op services, etc.). When the network gets larger, it will be incentive enough for other co-ops to hop on the bandwagon and join the network. Another idea is that the consumer could also buy in with a membership fee in return for privileges of their own.

We did a little research and found that the Greater Boston Chamber of Cooperatives, Coopify, and Loconomics have tried to do something similar to this, and we’re hoping that a product like this would help decrease the need for endless search efforts to find services that a consumer may need and that this intuitive platform would be a catalyst for seamless transactions.

Here is a link to our Business Model Canvas  for Co-Everything: https://www.launchpadcentral.com/team/spring-2016-placetailor/canvas?week=4

Intro: Kai Jordan

Hi everyone! My name is Kai and I’m a junior at Wellesley College studying Media Arts and Sciences focusing on Human-Computer Interaction and UX Engineering. Before coming to Boston, I was raised between Jersey City, NJ and Harlem (NYC). I’m very passionate about both of these communities and how I can use my skills to improve the living situations in both of these cities.

In the past, I’ve worked mostly with app building and redesigning software for Rocket Software in Waltham last summer and Qila Energy, a biogas company, during my time abroad at UCL in London last semester. I will be continuing to develop these skills as a UX intern on the Audio Visual Engineering Architecture team at Apple this upcoming summer in Cupertino.

Some of my skills include UI/UX design, HTML5, CSS3, jQuery, Javascript, Python, prototyping, A/B and other usability testing. Civic media is something I’ve always been very passionate about. In the past, I’ve also been able to apply my skills to help develop a social mobile video app called DYNAMITE where users could feel safe anonymously posting videos (using face-blur technology and different types masks). However, after the introduction of the masks (of presidential candidates, animals, celebrities, etc.) the app turned into something mostly used for entertainment. More recently, I’ve been working with the S.A.F.E in Harlem coalition to create an app for their program which focuses on drug and alcohol prevention in African American teens and youth.

This is my first CMS course and I’m very excited to see what we can all accomplish during the semester!