Benjie's List

The Angie's List for contractors to submit verified reviews on clients.

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Overview

Product Concept

Benjie's List is a verified review site for contractors to write and share reviews of the clients they work with. It's the Angie's List for contractors.

Aha! Moment

Benjie, founder and CEO of Benjie's List, has been a contractor and owns a contracting business for many years. Drawing from his first-hand experience working on and managing many contracting projects from start to finish, Benjie believes that in order to make the market truly fair for both parties (client and contractor) in a project, the contractors must have a way to review their clients after the projects are done. After looking on the market and not finding the tool to do this, Benjie decided that he should venture to build it himself.

Client

Benjie's List

Project Category

Web App

App Category

Directory/Listing/Verified Review Site

Venture Phase

Seed Phase

Client Highlight

Move from Design to Development in 3 weeks

What We Did

  • tick Product Roadmap

  • tick UX/UI Design

  • tick Prototyping

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Problem

Before working with our team at Lean Start Lab, Benjie had worked on digital products and software tools before but did not have a positive experience; the development partner he worked with did not communicate well, the requirements were scattered, the project was mismanaged, the timeline kept getting extended, and the cost wasn’t very kind to the wallet.

Due to this bad experience, Benjie and his team were extra cautious in their search for a product design partner because they knew that 1) time is of the essence and 2) the UX/UI design is an important foundation for the development team to build upon. Balancing between a small budget, tight timeline, and demanding quality made it tough for them to find the right partner.

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Solution

Discovery

The problem Benjie faced was the exact problem Lean Start Lab solves. We specialize in working with founders of early-stage startups so we have built our teams, tools, and tech to meet our clients where they are in their journey.

In Benjie case, he was in the idea phase in his entrepreneurial journey where he needs to take the vision in his mind and visualize it to make the product concept tangible for the world to see, touch, and feel. After the initial discovery meeting, both Benjie and our team decided that the best way to bring his idea to life is to first build a clickable prototype.

At Lean Start Lab, we have created a concrete 3-week process to produce a clickable prototype. Our production schedule is specific to the day with clear milestones, checkpoints, and deliverables. (Fun fact: we’ve done this so many times that we had no choice but to notice the patterns and document them into a process!)

With all the expectations clearly laid out, Benjie and his team approved the project plan, and we immediately went to work!

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1: Scope Kickoff Storyboarding Flowcharting Wireframing Review 1
Week 2: Sketch UI Design UI Design UI Design UI Design Review 2
Week 3: Style UI Design UI Design Iterating Iterating Review 3
Checkpoint Purpose Week Day Duration
Kickoff To discuss product requirements 1 Monday 90 mins
Review 1 To review user flowcharts and wireframes 1 Friday 60 mins
Review 2 To review high-fidelity screens for key features 2 Friday 60 mins
Review 3 To review the prototype and finalize details 3 Friday 60 mins

Strategy

First, we did a project kickoff meeting to discuss in depth about the business context of Benjie's List platform: who it’s for, how it works, the problem it solves, what value it creates, and how it makes money.

We then used this context to list out all the features the platform should have and more importantly, rank them based on their relative business value. The features which create the most direct path to the first dollar of revenue stay, and those which don’t get backlogged.

The prioritized feature list made up what we call the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). And this gave us the foundational material to move into design.

Design

We started off the design phase with putting ourselves in the users’ shoes and imagine their user journey. The most important journey we needed to think through was how a user gets from registering an account (point A) to successfully submitting a review on a client they worked with (point B). To visualize this journey, we drew a user flowchart.

With the flowchart front and center, we started sketching the screens which the user will see and interact with throughout their journey from point A to point B. The sketches allow us to quickly thinking through the nuances the roadblocks a user might encounter on their way to the desired destination. Since the sketches are very low-fidelity and easy to adjust, we experimented with many layouts of the key app screens. Once we landed on a few versions which made the most sense, we moved into the next step: wireframing.

Once the wireframe is finalized, we transitioned into design high-fidelity UI screens, which are realistic app screens which will most likely be used in both the prototype and in frontend development. We prioritized designing the UI screens for the key features first. Only when the UI screens for the key features were done did we move into designing for the non-key features such as recover password or change profile picture.

With all the necessary pieces in place and approved by Benjie, our team proceeded into the next phase: prototyping.

BenjiesList solution image

Prototyping

For prototyping, we used Marvel app, which allows us to use clickable hotspots simulate the most important flows in the user journey, without having to write a single line of code. Since this was a static, design prototype, it was also very quick to put together. Within 1 day of hotspotting and testing, we finished producing the clickable prototype with the raw materials we put together in the design phase.

We demo’ed this prototype to Benjie to present our design intentions. He loved it! “This is exactly how I envision my app to be!” With the newly gained confidence and a useful tool in hand, Benjie started to demo the prototype to his target user, explain the development to his team, and pitch the concept to potential investors.

BenjiesList app gif

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Results

At the end of week 3 of the project, we accomplished what we set out to accomplish: to build a prototype for Benjie to bring his idea to life in a tangible format so others can see, touch, and feel it. Using the prototype as a springboard, Benjie immediately moved into development of the MVP with his team.

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Summary

  • Product roadmap and prioritized feature list

  • Clear MVP definition

  • Brand identity and product style guide

  • Clickable prototype for pitching investors as well as guiding the development team

  • Moved into development in 3 weeks from idea phase

“Lean Start Lab’s work was top notch. Their understanding of digital technologies helped them meet all deadlines. They kept the project moving and on budget throughout the engagement. The team’s high-quality deliverables made them a valuable partner.”

3 Words to Describe Lean Start Lab:
“Top notch. High Quality. Valuable.”

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