Meetup has millions of users of all shapes and sizes... And there are millions of venues out there... So what's the problem?

For this project we needed to connect to Meetup's users, but also with Venue Owners as our design would be used by both. We had to gather and interpret as much information as we could to understand our users needs. Enough that we could start to imagine the amalgamation of those users into our personas. For that we did a lot of user research.

As with so many UX projects, competitive analysis is often a great place to start. You can see how competitors do it, good and bad. Whether there is anyone already doing it. And identify whether there is a need for the service or feature you are looking to design. We found that there was; There were lots of sites to organise and promote events, and lots to find venues, but none that combined the two and allowed for more of a targeted/search by the matching of each user's needs and requirements or shared interests.

Competitive Analysis

We carried out a survey, but found the response rate from a social media drive was quite low. Partly down to the time constraints but also, I think, because organisers and venue owners are hard to pin down. We had to gather information in other ways. Our user interviews and guerrilla testing had to be targeted and focus on both users: meetup organisers and venue owners or hosts.

Some of the assumptions we rewrote were: Hosts just wanting to fill their venues, many had a real interest in being able to be connected with, and even find events that suited their aspirations and interests.

Organisers didn't chose a venue based so much on reviews, it was always primarily based on the location and price. With Meetup not having reviews of venues, meant users had to scan the internet for them. So integrating the feature into the setting up process of a Meetup made sense.

Survey & Interview

Armed with our research we were able to make our personas. As Meetup has such a variety of members, we needed to pick ones to focus on as our primary personas. We had gathered a good selection of different user types of Meetup and types of venue. We decided to focus on professional/skills based networking events and shared space venues that needed to be well matched in both technical and subject matter, and would benefit symbiotically from finding one another.

Personas & Scenarios

We knew that two new features were needed on the current site. One that allowed Hosts to sign up as members of Meetup, as only Organisers could at the moment. Also, both Hosts and Organisers would need to be able to search by criteria that would find them the best matches, making the process as easy, intuitive and enjoyable as possible.

What we concluded...

User flows allow us to spot pain points and areas within a process that can be improved upon. In this instance we saw how people looking for venues were quickly fed up by all the back and forth involved with finding a venue which had all the facilities they wanted and was available on their specific date. Something we knew our feature would eliminate by doing the hard work for you.

User Flow

Task analysis reveals small intricacies within a task that can be understood better and improved. For many a user flow can appear too technical and hard to understand. We translate this information into our persona's story to  produce a User journey. This shows the users emotional journey as they go through the task. This enables us to clearly see the pain points as well as build empathy with the end user.

Task Analysis & User Journey

It was important that we identified where these new features were going to live within the current site.

A sitemap is the blueprint of the site's information architecture and allows us to visualise where to put or new venue/organiser match-maker.

Site Map

We learned that from both Hosts and Organisers finding suitable match-ups is actually very difficult, and that our new feature would be greatly appreciated by both. I gate-crashed a 'London Organisers' Meetup event, with over 25 attendees, and received very positive feedback about the idea. The were a real mix of professionals and hobbyists, and showed that the feature would benefit all types of Meetup user.

What we learned...

We knew what we wanted to do: integrate our Host/Organiser match-making tool into Meetup's website. As Team Facilitator I had to make sure we were sticking to to our work plan. It is important to remember that you are Team Facilitator and not Team Lead. However, early on in the design phase it was clear a lot of the team did not like Meetup's current design (something that has since been revamped) and wanted to start redesigning the whole look of the site. I empathised but knew this was taking us down a rabbit hole and would make the project unachievable in the time we had. So as Team Facilitator that is where you must make the decision either way and move forward. When we all re-read the brief we agreed as a team that we had not been asked to redesign Meetup but add a feature. Deliver what the brief asks of you not what you'd like to do.

Design is the exciting part. However, it can sometimes lead you astray.

I facilitated the design studio. It focussed on feature prioritisation using what we had gathered from all of our interviews and survey results. I learned the importance of avoiding scope-creep and staying focussed on delivering the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Designers must come up with new ideas but must also keep in mind the bigger picture and constraints each project has.

Design Studio

As already discussed, it's so important to have a clear agreement as to what the MVP is and staying focussed, work agile to get there when possible. Working in a multidisciplinary and adaptable team over short well defined sprints boosts productivity and true collaboration. New ideas can always be thought up of course, but sometimes they have to be noted and added to the 'next steps' of the project.

The M.V.P and Agile

For our tests we used mostly task oriented testing and AB testing. I wrote test scripts for the tests but encouraged a degree of improvisation as well when doing tests face-to-face. With prototypes in hand, the team was able to go and test our designs on both Organisers and Hosts. This guided our decision making with regard to how best to order the process of searching for a venue. Do the steps run in logical order? Does it contain all the most important criteria? And most importantly: Are there any elements or taxonomy used that confuse the user or imply something we did not intend?

Usability Testing


After our initial, very rough, sketches, I took the UI patterns that kept recurring and translated them into modular paper prototypes. Spending a bit more time on making these paper prototypes I think has a real value, you can quickly test lots of different layouts then and there, in an intuitive, 'analog' way. The higher fidelity means you can test the taxonomy of the site and the navigation schema, all information that will aid the building of your wireframes. At the same time you can keep rough sketching to test out new ideas and tangent thoughts.

Paper Prototypes

As early as the beginning of the second week we had started to make our wireframes. We were able to do this because we were staying true to the design of and therefore knew what our design would look like, or at least, what it needed to fit in to. So we focussed on how it would be integrated and whether elements needed to be moved, removed or tweaked.


Throughout our testing, both on paper and wireframes, we identified a number of things to change. We removed the right hand side bar that exists on the current site to allow more room for our match-maker feature. We also found that, although the map had been championed by all of our research, making us prioritise it at the top of the search feature, we found that being there it was too far up and people would often find themselves scrolling up and down the screen to check the map. So we moved it right next to the search results. Again an instance where a logical assumption was proven wrong, by? Yep you've guessed it... the user!

Test & Iterate


High Fidelity Prototype




The Brief

The Team

Two weeks to research and best design a new feature for this community website was a great task. I was Team Facilitator. The team... were awesome.

To design a new feature for that allows Group Organisers and Venue Owners to find one another based on suitability and connect easily through the existing site.

The Proposal

To seamlessly integrate a 'match-making' feature into the current site. Both Hosts and Organisers can enter and search by criteria, making sure they are the best match for one another