Building a collaborative consumption web app from scratch.

GreatSpaces is an online community marketplace you can find and rent event spaces throughout Philadelphia, or list your own space to attract more business.

Origins - A simple idea for a little extra income

The idea for GreatSpaces began in a small dance studio in Fishtown where Katharine, the owner of the studio decided to start renting her studio space out to local clients in between her classes. She soon had all kinds of events held at her space, from birthday parties to yoga workshops and even a shamanistic vigil! 

With this new opportunity for income, Katharine approached an IT/Web consultant named Abhishek to figure out the best way to spread the word about her space. They quickly found out that there wasn't much out there and made a team to build their own app instead.

This is where I come in.

Research: How to Move a Paper & Phone-based Industry Online

When I joined GreatSpaces back in 2011, the first thing we realized about the event rental industry is how low-tech it is. Most of the process was done in person or over the phone and payment was usually made with paper checks. There was no simple process to book spaces online and few options for space owners besides a few directories or building their own website.

Our initial research needed to answer some key questions: How do people find or advertise spaces right now? What parts of the rental process can be made easier online? Which groups of renters and owners are most open to conducting business online? To find answers, we created surveys, interviewed venue owners and local artists and conducted competitive analyses.

This research helped us to develop personas of our users over time. As we moved into the designing the site, we continued to conduct research to inform our design decisions throughout each new iteration. Pictured below are samples of most recent competitive analyses and personas.

As we continued developing the app, we discovered competing start-ups that had similar goals. Keeping tabs on similar apps in our industry helped us to monitor trends and best practices.

The personas we developed to guide our design decisions began informally and over time as our knowledge of the industry grew. Pictured above are  different types of venue owners and key attributes.

Designing an Intuitive Experience on a Tight Budget

Working closely with the founders, a visual designer and development team, I created wireframes, mockups and product requirements to guide the development of the site. After the first iteration, I continued to work on making improvements to the site, taking in feedback from users to guide the direction and keep up with best practices. Since the company did not seek outside funding, we had to make the most of our limited budget to accomplish the site's goals.