Designing for the other half: Sexy isn’t always pink

Designing for the other half: Sexy isn’t always pink
Tracy Chou (pinterest), Leah Busque (taskrabbit), Margaret Wallace (CEO of playmatics), Jess Lee (CEO of polyvor), Sepi Nasiri (Women 2.0)
Moderator: Mary Himinkool

TC: Pinterest started in 2009, but really took off in late 2011. Was designed as a general platform, not specific to women. Same with Quorra
LB: TaskRabbit were in just a couple of markets and looked at the database for trends. Both key demographics were leaning female. It influenced design, features, etc. for those demographics.
MW: There are “whales” spend $100 or more on game. There are games that are free to download and play, but to progress and move forward the virtual current is purchased. But you might get 1%-2% of people that can convert. Interesting philosophical debate of how to monetize without exploiting.

Monetizing/Community
SN: For monetizing you need to look at what people are looking for so you can monetize. Career questions are a “sticky” topic and work/life balance. Funding for building their company.
JL:  Community has been central to growing the user base. Always go the extra mile. Extended an opportunity to bring top users in and get their feedback and get them involved in the process.
LB: The key is to make it easy to get feedback. 24/7 support, phone, email and in the product flow users can leave feedback. Follow up with users to make it “amazing” if not explore how to make it better. Second, there are weekly users research sessions. Each Thursday they review marketing, site changes, design patterns, etc.
MW: How much should one be lead by the community, especially in gaming. Analytics (swerve) are used to help guide direction.
JL: Questions need to be carefully thought out. Make sure you pay attention to what they say & what they do.  Be responsive after launches too.
TC: 6-7 people on the community team out of 50 people. They are also involved in decision making process in design/engineering sessions. They use ZenDesk to track tickets.

Interviewing/Hiring
LB: Interviews need to involve cross functional teams. Also a believer in meeting each person that comes in for an interview.
SN: Similar process at Women 2.0. “Can you share a pillow with this person?” Chemistry is important. External team need to feel included.
MW: Referrals are important. Co-founder teaches at local university. “Can I go camping with this person?”Cultural fit matters in a small organization, no matter the talent level.

Fundraising
MW: if it’s too easy or too hard something isn’t right. If you hear the same feedback then you need to adjust.
JL:  Have traction. 2009 Series B was difficult with the economy, product, market and team. Series C in 2012 $10M was easier.

Designing with women in mind
LB: Find great people to surround yourself with. Don’t assume you know who you’re building for so you can examine the user base.
TC: Get mentors or potential consumers to come in and share what to do. Get the demographics you want to target as employees.
LB: 75% come in via WOM. The money that is spent is very targeted. Mom’s groups, community school organizations, PTAs, etc.
TC: Pretty strategic about the press engagements.
JL:  Tried to create opportunities with advertisers to get some opportunities with the community.

Jason: Has it been a problem for TaskRabbit for non-standard uses? Reviews, promotions, etc.?
LB: Not really been a problem. Use CC to id people and approve users. Users in the community can flag inappropriate tasks.

Pablo: What was the tipping point for Pinterest?
TC: We don’t really know what it was. Last spring/summer where it picked up. Not a specific event to provide an inflection point.
LB: It can really be about timing. The consumer mindset sometimes needs to get their head around how to use the service.

Tommy: Do you have any insights about Google+ being skewed heavily male?
MW: Opinion needs some UI overhaul.
JL: Get the design out of the way of the user creations. Not necessary to have a feminine design. The seed of community is important where G+ started at Google which is mostly male.

AJ: How do you feel about the representation of women in the tech industry? Are you targeting other minorities in your design?
JL: Had mentor at Google that was important in getting started. Giving back also makes a difference.
SN: Awareness is important as well. So panels like this are able to inspire other women.

Anthony: What is the process for managing features that role out? Product to engineering.
LB: Reviewing A/B test now. Came up with new design that was simple and gorgeous. The simple form isn’t working. Live and die by the data. Have qualitative research.

Dan: Is the seed community always going to determine the lifespan of the community?
TC: It doesn’t have to determine the future. But you have to start somewhere. Branching out is possible.

What’s top of mind? What is the most valuable experience you have had so far?
MW: Accept failure quickly and gracefully. Move on and keep going.
JL: Do a few things well. Think about the core and be exceptional at that core function. Don’t give up!
SN: Don’t marry to just one idea. Be in a position to move and grow.
LB: “I think you should see how far you can take it.” Was the inspiration and continues to push TaskRabbit forward.
TC: Continue improving.

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