Meet- True is a platform that connects the creative world.
What is Meet-True
Meet-True was founded by three Chinese students including Xiaobei Mao, Bailu Yan, and myself. We started from scratch to make Meet-True an online designer platform. It helps young designers to connect with people and companies through uploading online portfolios.
Around the end of 2015, I decided to leave the company to finish my master's degree and I handed over the MLP Web and App design to the dev team before I left. The company got a ￥3 million Angel investment after the Wed development. After a few pivots, Meet-true became an online IP (Intellectual Property) market places.
I am the third member of the company and mainly focusing on web design and product requirements. I worked with the other two co-founders to clarify product directions and earlier user research. Then collaborate with an international development team and launched the web in 2015.
What I did
• User research including survey, onsite interview
• Site map
• Wireframes and high fidelity mocks
• UI/VI/UX and motion design
• Earlier bird sign-up page coding.
The desktop site launched in 2015 gaining 3000 users in the first month.
Where everything starts
Myself, a design student in China, when I started to learn design, it was really hard to find design resources, keep in touch with large companies, gather passionate design students to work together, and have conversations with high professional designers. It seemed that there was a huge wall blocking my eyes to see the world.
There are 14 million designers in China, 4 million of them are design students. It is a huge industrial community that can be developed.
Meet-Ture, a team of three students, wants to build a platform to help student designers open their eyes, collaborate, learn from peers and professions, and eventually become professional designers. This blueprint looks really beautiful, but it was a huge challenge for me as a first time interaction designer.
In the beginning, we didn't know what to build. So we started with user research to help us to draw the user's portrayal and refine platform features. We sent out 500 questionnaires to all major art students across all academic levels and eventually got 420 feedback. Through the survey results, we understood that there weren't any mature platforms that young creatives were familiar with and widely adopted at that moment; there weren't any online design communities that young creatives can get help to move forward with their career after they graduate. We used this method to validate our assumptions and also enhance our confidence in creating this online platform for them.
We also utilized the survey to collect young creatives' needs as well. Some students mentioned that they want to have a closely related community that they can make connections, share work, share contacts, get feedback, etc. Their need for finding a good job after graduation was surprisingly high. What interests them the most would be sharing the new trends, education and inspiration related personal projects, competition and exhibition news, etc. Some students also share concerns with us. They care about the copyright if they upload their projects or share them with other people because most of the work is digital or imagery format. Below are some primary users we are targeting.
With the user research in hand, I suggested doing a competitive audit to help define our opportunities and pain points haven't been address by any existing platforms. For the competitive analysis, we are trying to find what are some pros and cons of each product and figure out our value proposition and potential areas of growth. We mainly looked into four types of products, imagery related platforms, online portfolio platforms, online freelance platforms, and art industrial related trending news platforms. Below is the summary of the audit:
Existing products don’t address all audiences – the market currently has platforms that accommodate mostly the established artists and creative professionals. There is no existing platform to help entry-level designers, artists, and creative geniuses market their talent.
Opportunity: We plan to provide them with the necessary tools to nurture their careers through their work.
Existing platforms offer limited functionality – the current market operates separately in silos with different platforms for showcasing portfolios and creative work, social media for interaction and promotional activities, and other collaboration tools for artists.
Opportunity: We intend to provide an integrated environment for creatives to do all of these things using one common platform.
Non-user targeted content – the current market for professional or social media platforms provides content that is ad hoc and dispersed to a disintegrated audience.
Opportunity: Our platform would organize information and content using advanced analytics, algorithms, and big data to provide directional push services for targeted and personalized content powered by user-enabled labels and preferences.
Scattered information – existing platforms provide information and data about events, exhibitions, competitions, and newsfeeds in a scattered manner across multiple platforms. Gathering the most updated information and providing an assimilated, pointed, and singular view of the content that the user wants to see saves time for users that could otherwise be spent on creative pursuits. We plan to do just this.
Security and plagiarism issues – with an increasing trend of using online channels for art sales and marketing, creative professionals are increasingly concerned with the security of their works online.
Opportunity: Our platform would take away the hassle caused by plagiarism concerns and threats of copyright infringement that artists and creative professionals are constantly exposed to. Meet-True would keep their work safe, providing them with copyright protection complete with their signatures.
We want to build a comprehensive, integrated social media platform targeting young and emerging creative talent in art and design and enabling them to:
Create an identity through their individual portfolios
Provide an ecosystem for them to collaborate
Share information about and participate in events, exhibitions, and competitions.
(Next generation) Offering them a consolidated platform for recruitment, to find residencies, find jobs, and market their works through the sales platform. At the same time, it would also be a platform for galleries, museums, creative organizations, and agencies to exhibit and attract talent or display and promote their holdings
We want to grow up with our users. So, our business model is divided into two parts. The first part we like to call the Nurture Plan. We want to help art school students or junior designers quickly grow up and become senior designers or artists. This part is an online service including communications, buying and selling designs, information delivery, and recruiting. The second part we like to call the Star Plan. We will select senior designers and artists to join our star company as star designers. This section is an offline service. We also think about how to make a profit through running ads on the platform for art schools, large companies, conferences. In the long term, we might start our own design agency.
Based on the main function of new events, projects, designers, and teams, I wrote down the core flows of the whole website and started to draw the wireframe at the same time. Drawing the wireframe helped me to understand the function and the relationship between each page more deeply. I separated our main website into four main parts: event, project, designer, and team. For future development, I added Buy and Sell as part of the user flow to help me integrate the structure of the Meet-True website as a whole.
The first version mock-up focused on the main functions of the website and deliver information clearly.
1.0 Version Web structure and style guide
We wanted to build a welcome, friendly, and fresh atmosphere for our users. The color and details became important parts in each page. I chose an orange and black color palette to show the welcome, active, young, positive character of the website to our users.The little details like the round curves of each rectangular text box, the rounded Chinese font, the little bit of shadow on each layer, and the round-shape icons worked together and built up a friendly atmosphere for our users.
The app functions are a little bit different from the website. We knew that people won't upload their portfolios from their phones. So for the mobile design, we are focusing on preview, search to find designers, projects, and events. Users can use the app to view other people’s works and leave comments or write messages to other users. Users can also change their personal settings, edit or delete works, and manage their settings.
Logo design is super important for a company and it requires a lot of time for exploration and reiteration. The design process is complicated. I sketch several versions of the combination of letters and start to work on it in AI. But the first version lacked friendliness and gave people a feeling of harshness and danger. So I began to switch to different shapes of animals, and the Evernote icon and AngryBird inspired me. When I start to put two birds together expressing the meet-true spirit, the icon itself looked like a single bird’s face instead of two birds. However, this icon was hard to match with the style of the website, and it was simply not enough. So I tried to use circles and lines to redesign the same idea. The second iteration of the logo design focused more on geometric form and simple shape.