a hub for UX Designers


Lean UX


UX Designer
UX Researcher


Sep - Dec 2023


Dylan Bagwell
Chistine Taylor
Taylor Young
Eden Stoessel


UI Design
UX Research
User Interviews




A united UX design hub 

Userly is a web application prototype created to facilitate collaboration, networking, education, and inspiration among user experience designers in one location. This project was designed alongside a team of fellow students in my Interaction Design II class at Kennesaw State University.  To develop Userly, our team followed Lean UX framework, described by Gothelf & Seiden as “the evolution of product design and team collaboration” and adapted it to fit our course timeline. 

View Userly’s FigJam Workspace and Prototype below ︎︎︎


Designers lack a centralized platform

Since my team and I are all students studying interaction design, we are aware of how challenging it can be to locate design-related information in one location, connect with others, share work, and get guidance. We reasoned that doing interviews with designers and developing a UX platform would help us grow, given how difficult the UX employment market is currently. Our goal was to establish a central platform where designers could locate and utilize all things relevant to design.


Implementing Lean UX 

Lean UX is a mixture of several concepts, including Agile software development, design thinking, user experience design, and Eric Ries's Lean Startup methodology. As we started our project, we had to figure out who would use our product, understand our business goals, find solutions, and more.

The Lean UX Canvas, which gathers a number of exercises to assist teams in stating their assumptions about an initiative, helped us work through these questions. Over the course of two three-week sprints, we then verified and tested our hypotheses.

Blank Lean UX Canvas


Week 0 - Gathering our thoughts

My team and I began Sprint 1 by creating our Lean UX Canvas, a compilation of exercises that help teams lay out their assumptions about an initiative. We formulated a business problem, mapped out who we think our users would be, created hypotheses, solutions, business outcomes, and more. This canvas played a crucial role in better understanding the domain of the product we wanted to create and helped guide us through its design.

In meetings this week we asked ourselves questions such as:

  • “What problem does the business have that you are trying to solve?”
  • “What can we make that will solve our business problem while meeting the needs of our customers?”
  • “What’s the most important thing we need to learn first?”
  • “What’s the least amount of work we need to do to learn the next most important thing?”

We then created a hypothesis table, prioritized our hypotheses, ordered them by risk, and more. Finally, we created a Sprint 1 backlog that included the features we planned on testing first due to a high risk, high value potential.

Product Problem Statement

We came to the conclusion that the digital design community as it exists today has mainly concentrated on separate aspects of UX, including UI, research, visual design, networking, and more. By offering an all-in-one hub for designers to interact, collaborate, and create with people of all skill and experience levels, we believe our product would close this gap.


We all agreed our product fit into the design social media domain, so we assumed those who would be most interested would be inexperienced designers looking to grow and connect with others. We hypothesized that although there are various design platforms, none brand themselves as hosting every feature a designer would want or need. We believed that designers are scattered online on various platforms, lacking a central “hub.” We aimed to validate these assumptions through testing. We initially created three proto-personas:

  • Sabrina, a new comp-sci college graduate with an interest in UX 
  • Phillip, a mid-level designer in the industry
  • Sandra, a middle-aged marketing professional transitioning into the UX field. 

Although two represented junior designers looking to learn, we also wanted to include a full-fledged designer as we wanted a mix of career-levels to enjoy and use our product.

Sprint 1 Backlog

Once our Lean UX canvas was complete, we formulated our backlog, the features that we wanted to test during this sprint. We chose these features based on what we thought had the highest value but also the highest risk associated. We initially wanted to prioritized meet up events as we thought they would be a good way to promote the community aspect, but we weren't sure if this was a desirable feature. 


Weeks 1 + 2 - Testing wireframes

During our first sprint, we interviewed six total participants who we thought identified with one of our three proto-personas. We interviewed design bootcamp graduates, career-changers, college students, and full-time designers.

We gave priority to interviewing less experienced designers because we thought their experience would be the majority of users of our product. We conducted stand-up meetings every two days during which we assigned tasks to team members, reviewed project status, and determined what needed to be completed before the following meeting or interview.

What We Tested

We began testing and interviewing potential users immediately, so at the start of the week, we had a team meeting where we all worked together to quickly create some low-fidelity wireframes to present to our first participant. Microsoft Teams was used for conducting each interview. After asking them about their process for designing, we showed them our low-fidelity mockups and asked their first reactions. We kept making changes to our low-fidelity mockups following each interview in response to comments and trends we noticed. Our main task was to create low-fidelity prototypes of the features found in our Sprint 1 backlog, including review threads, events, mentorship, and resource libraries.

Affinity Mapping

After every interview our team conducted affinity mapping, a timed collaborative method to help synthesize research findings. During the interview we posed questions such as, “What did you find the most interesting about the interview? What was the most important thing said about ‘X’ feature?”

We took notes on the observations and issues our interviewees encountered while exploring our mockups while keeping these questions in mind. We organized our sticky notes into groups according to clear trends after our ten-minute timer went off, which enabled us to identify the key elements we felt each interview session included.

Sprint 1 Major Insights

  • Gained insight to important features such as Groups. Several of the interviewees gave feedback to help us develop main features such as Userly’s Group and Mentorship features.

  • Make the platform less reliant on social media aspects. We falsely assumed that many users would like Userly to resemble social media platforms in order to connect with other designers. Most interviewees proved this idea to be wrong.

  • Communication is a very important feature. To develop a platform like Userly, many participants expressed that communication between users would be an important feautre to the success of the platform and what it offers.

Sprint Retrospective

At the end of Sprint 1 we held a sprint retrospective with our team, an hour long meeting where we discussed how we thought this sprint went. We created sticky notes for questions such as, “What went well?” “What could have gone better?“ and “What will we try next?” We successfully moderated six interviews, all lasting over 45 minutes, each providing us with incredibly useful feedback.

However, we discovered that when moderating, we frequently missed to finish receiving feedback because we were pressed for time and tended to save the most important tasks or questions for last. We also came to the realization that we needed to improve our comprehension of how we wanted Userly's social component to function and give our group feature top priority.


Week 0 - Verifying our presumptions 

Sprint 2, Week 0 started with setting up meetings to go over the revalidation process, which involved going over some of the assumptions we had made on our Lean UX Canvas. Throughout these meetings, our group asked, "What did we learn?" "What needs to be reviewed?" and "What needs to change?"

Removing Threads, developing Groups

We added new features based on the feedback we received to our updated hypothesis table. We changed our desire for a place where people can get feedback on their designs, resumes, portfolios, and more into a group feature after realizing that the concept of "threads" was becoming too complex.

We decided to split “Groups” into two types: organizational groups and Userly community groups. We wanted to have open, informal groups users can create to network, express themselves, receive feedback, and more. However, we also wanted a more formal version of groups that are moderated by organizational admins (for example IxDA, UXPA, etc.).

Focusing on MVPs

The features we wanted to test and concentrate on were outlined in the Sprint 2 backlog. Our hypothesis table experienced changes as we substituted certain features for others. Having come to the realization that transparent communication and simple collaboration are essential components of our platform, we focused on developing our group's functionality, resources provided, mentorship, and event features. Even though we worked on some of these aspects during Sprint 1, we came to the conclusion that additional time was required for these features to be fully tested and finished.

In addition to modifying our hypothesis table, we had to update our hypothesis prioritization canvas. We realized that our group feature has a high perceived value but may have risks if not designed properly.

Proto-Persona Re-iteration

We discovered that having three proto-personas was repetitive during the revalidation phase. We decided to completely eliminate one of our proto-personas, Sabrina, because we were interviewing only people who were either working as designers or had a job as one.

We thought that many people outside of the design industry might use Userly to learn more about user experience, even if that was not their specific field. We were unable to speak with anyone who was similar to Sabrina, though, because it was challenging to locate possible interview subjects who fit this description. As a result, we made the decision to concentrate on creating content for Sandra and Phillip, our other two prototype personas.


Weeks 1 + 2 - Testing our hi-fi mockups

Sprint 2 worked in a similar manner as Sprint 1; we interviewed a total of six people, a mixture of bootcamp grads, college students, and full-time designers. We moved into higher fidelity mockups, adding in color and styling, and focusing on creating a more realistic-looking platform.

How We Tested

Like Sprint 1, we moderated each interview, starting out with asking our participants a few questions about their design background and then shifting into sharing prototype screens and showing them our mockups. We thought about going ahead and letting our participants click through our prototype themselves and possibly giving them a task list, but for the sake of time and ease we continued sharing our screens and going through the pages we wanted insight on. In hindsight, we probably should have tested a live prototype of Userly as Lean UX has no dedicated time to usability testing.

What We Tested

We tested higher fidelity mockups of our MVPs during Sprint 2. We created brand colors and typography which we used consistently throughout all screens. Although we created some hi-fi mockups of our entire platform, we focused on showing participants our MVPs in order to perfect the features we, and our interviewees, found most valuable. However, since our interviews tended to go over 45 minutes, if we had some extra time we also showed participants some of our other features we believed to have low risk, such as Home, Explore, Profile, and Messages, ensuring that we received feedback on all of our major navigational areas.

Sprint 2 Major Insights

  • Gained insight to important features such as Groups. Several of the interviewees gave feedback to help us develop main features such as Userly’s Group and Mentorship features.

  • Make the platform less reliant on social media aspects. We fasely assumed that many users would like Userly to resemble social media platforms in order to connect with other designers. Most interviewees proved this idea to be wrong.

  • Communication is a very important feature. To develop a platform like Userly, many participants expressed that communication between users would be an important feautre to the success of the platform and what it offers.

Sprint Retrospective


Polishing our designs, staying consistent 

We spent a week polishing Userly and making some last-minute adjustments after Sprint 2 ended. During this time, we made sure that every screen adhered to a relative 8-point grid, used text and color styles, and, when needed, activated auto layout. To ensure that our text and colors are consistent, we also adhered to our style guide.


Userly, a hub for UX designers


Lessons learned from the process

Userly was my first time creating a web app prototype with the method of Lean UX. The whole design process was made more manageable because we designed with intent and with expansive user research and feedback in mind.

However there were serveral setbacks and learning curves. These were:

  • Constructive criticism. Twelve interviews with mostly experienced designers invited a lot constuctive criticism. At time their feedback could be disappointing and having to start over after recieving negative feedback is never fun. However, the criticism truly did end up being insightful.

  • Priority. Balancing interviews and design sprints alongside other classes and work was difficult at times. Deciding which pages and parts of the product was most important to work on and gather feedback from was crucial.

  • Adaptability. 

        Last updated: December 2023