Rob Fracisco

User Interface Designer

Thumbtack : Design for Growth

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Most of my time spent at Thumbtack was working as a designer on a small team focussed on growing revenue for the company. When I first started, the site was a mess. A lot of the flows felt really 'heavy' and the overall design felt sloppy and a little dated. It was basically a chaotic website with a lot of potential to be something so much better.

With brilliant data analysis from the product manager, a state of the art in-house A/B testing framework built and maintained by engineers, access to granular flow data from Mixpanel, combined with regular user testing, allowed us to design and build with a laser focus. This framework empowered me as an individual designer to run as many as 5-10 consecutive A/B tests at a time. The traffic that I was designing for were users who arrived after clicking a link on a Google search page. Most of these users had no idea what Thumbtack was, which added another layer to the problem I was designing for.

As we saw our mobile traffic grow over time, we made it a priority to design a responsive experience catered to mobile devices. This optimization, when combined with a mobile optimized work request form, really put Thumbtack where it needed to be for this growing traffic segment. Over time, the pages were not only optimized for mobile devices, but became completely fluid (flexible to all screen resolutions), setting the company to handle whatever devices come in the future. All of these changes led to significant increases in user conversion.

A luxury that the engineers and designers at Thumbtack had was a design framework collaboratively developed over a few months by the design team. This allowed me to work quickly and design 99% of the time in the browser. All code went through rigorous code reviews before it could ever be pushed to the site, which ended up being a great way for everyone to ramp their coding skills to new levels, and in time work much faster.

Most importantly, I learned the power of a development cycle where user interviews and tests, followed by designing a series of focussed A/B tests based on interview learnings. For the first time in my career, I felt that we were always learning new things about our users and I was able to design solutions that truly met their needs. Sometimes designs that I would normally consider ugly, would work the best. Also, it seemed that things like button placement, brand messaging, and designing more for clarity rather than beauty had the most impact. A humbling and empowering learning experience. Overall we were able to increase user conversion on key search landing pages by over 400% over a 10 month time period. The beauty of iteration!

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