How we increased promoter confidence and clarity within the existing website
Ramy El-Refai | Hannah Kerr | Katerina Paleckova | Jenn Seide
Time frame
3 week-long sprints
Sketch | Axure
UX Designer, Project Manager, Client Facilitator
Key Deliverables
User personas | Sitemap | Wireframes | Interactive prototype

Our challenge

Paid Exposure is a two-sided marketplace empowering social media influencers to monetize, manage, and scale their business as paid promoters by connecting them with brand sponsors and streamlining the process of booking promotions.

After planning and developing for roughly a year, the platform was ready to launch an initial on the web for testing. It was at this point that Paid Exposure turned to us.

Paid Exposure asked us to focus on the promoter side of the platform, as their primary goal was customer acquisition. They also wanted to fill a gap in the market by catering their services more toward the promoters instead of the sponsors. Two functions were expected to be the key functionality: the calendar, in order to streamline the core task of coordinating promotions, and the profile, in order to serve as the public face of a promoter’s business. We were tasked with validating and improving these features.

Understanding the landscape

In order to better understand the market, we dove into domain research, did some competitive analysis and talked to some influencer marketing experts. In our competitive analysis, we confirmed there was a market gap for platforms focusing on influencers instead of sponsors.

From this research, there were a few things we heard repeatedly and from many sources, which we pulled out as top-level insights:
No one is teaching influencers how to be influencers.
- KJ Blattenbauer, Influencer Publicist

Understanding the users

We understood that Paid Exposure aimed to focus their platform toward micro-influencers (individuals with 10K-100K followers) and nano-influencers (individuals with less than 10K followers), so we spoke to them in order to find out their goals, needs and frustrations, explore out how they currently connect with sponsors and manage their sponsorships, and to learn about their experience (if any) with influencer monetization platforms.
My team came away from user interviews with a LOT of information, so we had an affinity mapping session to pull out the big takeaways.
After talking with users, we came out with these top-level insights:
I think brands are becoming very aware of the lack of authenticity with influencers and I think that is going to be a major hit [to the industry]"
- Brylee, Lifestyle Influencer

Defining the problem

During our research, we validated Paid Exposure’s assumption that there was a market need for an influencer-focused monetization platform as well as a streamlined way for influencers to present themselves and connect with sponsors. However, we found that influencers had an additional need for an organization management tool.

This led to our problem statement:

Micro-influencers who want to scale their business need a comprehensive industry toolbox to professionally manage and present their personal brand in order to foster symbiotic relationships with sponsors.

In order to help Paid Exposure keep their users in mind at every step of the design, we created three design principles to guide their solution:
The design and presentation of content should feel credible and safe so that connections between sponsors and promoters can be made with confidence. The platform should feel like a liaison between promoters and act as an unobtrusive guide. And, the design should be customizable and support the specific needs and individual preferences of the users so they feel in control of the entire process.

Finding our benchmark

We wanted to be able to measure our success against what Paid Exposure currently had set up, so we made sure to include the current beta website in our user testing as a benchmark.
On the current website, the calendar function positioned each day as a 'product' that promoters could sell and sponsors could buy. The profile feature on the current site was essentially a social media profile page for influencers.
One particular feature on the benchmark site gave promoters an option to increase their price daily. The client's vision for this feature was to help promoters to price themselves by finding their ‘sweet spot’ within the price increases, and to create scarcity so that influencers could scale their business.

Developing & testing concepts

We developed concepts to test against the benchmark of the current site, keeping in mind the problem we were solving for users: helping promoters to manage and present their brand in a way that spoke to sponsors.

Calendar concept

We wanted to answer users’ needs for a highly personal tool, so we developed a concept that consolidated all social platforms into one calendar and included a way to customize their services into packages.
This calendar concept with customized service packages addresses users' need for a personalized industry toolbox.
After concept testing the benchmark and new concept with micro- and nano-influencers, we pulled out some high-level insights about the calendar:
What if someone doesn't come in on Day 1; they come in on Day 15 and I cost more?
- Kate, Science YouTuber

Profile concepts

We heard from influencer marketing experts and influencers themselves that in order to be successful, they must have a cohesive and authentic personal brand. So, we developed a concept that positioned the profile as a media kit for influencers to showcase their brand - a sort of visual resume. We wanted to tackle this idea from two angles: customizable templates and drag-and-drop image and text boxes.
These media kit concepts address personalization and lack of industry knowledge via customizable templates and a drag & drop feature.
Testing the two profile concepts left us with the following insights:
No one wants to spend 10 minutes reading your media kit.
- Brylee, Lifestyle Influencer

Overall concept testing insights

We also came out of testing with a few additional insights about the platform overall. Paid Exposure asked us to include some questions to find out if their pricing model (a 25% commission) made sense to possible users.

Balancing act

We brought these concept test findings to our client during a sprint check-in. They had concerns about moving forward with the ‘packages and add-ons’ concept which had tested better with influencers, because it would mean completely rethinking the functionality of the calendar feature. The new concept needed to address helping influencers to price themselves. The client was also concerned that the new concept didn’t address the idea of creating scarcity within the promoter calendar because it didn't include the Daily Increase. We needed to move forward with a design that balanced the company’s vision and the needs of the user.

Combining our concepts

We moved forward with a hybrid calendar concept, addressing the client’s concerns while making sure to address user needs of consolidation and personalization. For the media kit, we moved forward with our highly visual media kit concept.

At this point we needed to figure out how we were going to organize the promoter site. We knew the calendar needed to be the first thing promoters saw upon logging in, and that some labels were confusing to users.
We reorganized the architecture of the site so the user comes to the dashboard with the calendar first, and relabeled top navigation so that it is more recognizable to users.

Our final design


Our final design turns the dashboard into a consolidated calendar with all platforms.
We added a "To-do" function to address users' needs for an organizational tool, and the ability to create standard promotions to address a lack of customization and personalization. One standard promotion can be added per platform, which speaks to the clients' original vision as closely as possible while also addressing what we heard from users in our initial interviews. This design also posits an alternative for the Daily increase feature from the benchmark site.

We ran usability testing and on our final design using an interactive prototype we created in Axure. Overall, testing went very well, with only minor usability issues.
I like that you can organize everything in one spot instead of having to go to different places for Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
- Amanda, Food Influencer

Profile/Media Kit

Because it’s a visually-driven industry, we created an attractive way for promoters to present their brand to sponsors.
During our research, we heard that assets need to be niche-specific for influencers to be successful. We addressed this using media kit templates, which also offer a level of customization. One of the recurring points were heard from users and experts was that no one is teaching promoters how to be promoters. Our tutorial shows them step-by-step industry tips guiding promoters toward what sponsors want to see and shows them how to best present themselves and their personal brands.

Usability testing yielded almost exclusively positive results for the visual media kit.
I like the template so that I don't have to worry about customizing it all by myself. It's just customizable enough.
- YJ, Cosplay Influencer

Our outcomes

With our final design, we ended up with a product that met the client's goals while also speaking to users. Personally, I learned to successfully manage a process where user test results didn't match a client's vision, and I was able to advocate for users. In our final design, we balanced this incongruence to come to a compromise - and ended up with a result that is more understandable and satisfying the promoters who will actually be interacting with the product.
Ultimately, launching a site that is more understandable and pleasing to users will ultimately help Paid Exposure to meet their goal of customer acquisition - and keep those customers coming back.
This team has done a great job in their research and has helped us validate our assumptions about our startup in a short amount of time.
- Ricardo Zulueta Jr., Founder and CEO of Paid Exposure

Moving forward

Given our short time frame, there were some opportunities we weren't able to explore. We recommended a few things to our clients for the future of the product.

For the calendar, we think there is still room to explore integrating the to-do list, with features such as reminders or notifications. We recommend implementing the ability to collapse features that aren't in use. For example, many users wanted to collapse the "To-do" line. We also recommend further exploring and testing the Add-Ons, as we feel there is more opportunity for clarity there.

For the media kit, we suggest implementing customizable vanity urls for easy sharing. We feel there is an opportunity for a 'pay to promote' within the media kit, which would be another source of revenue for Paid Exposure. If an influencer has a viral post, they may want to capitalize on the opportunity to get in front of as many sponsors as possible. Lastly, we suggest creating an ability for promoters to browse other promoter media kits as a way to draw inspiration from others.