User research, UX design, Prototyping

My Role

Design research, Research synthesis, User test, Prototype, UI design


Victoria Ayo, Elvis Yang


Creating an online open-source

comprehensive guide for freelance and remote workers to understand the more nuanced parts of the work process.


Users can choose categories that they need guidance on and a guide will walk them through step by step. There is also a community element where other freelancers can share their own experiences, letting users get professional input as well as community guidance.



Many freelancers live away from big cities where the freelance scene is still up and coming. They always feel a lack of support in their careers, especially new freelancers. Much of the information about the freelancer they need or want is scattered and unstructured. Also there is a lack of community that they would miss out on the traditional work environment.


 Process                 Context     Research     Ideation     MVP Test     Prototype     Test & Iteration     Design




& Research

Innovation in Product design


How might we support freelancers who don’t live in major metropolises lead active careers?

User Interview


We found that many freelancers live away from big cities and they always feel a lack of support in their careers, especially new freelancers. With the findings from secondary research, we conducted interviews with freelancers, remote workers as well as freelance experts as well as workers who live and work in smaller cities to gain user insights.



After consolidating and analyzing the research data gathered, we gain four main insights.


No co-working

can lead to

no co-learning


Freelancing puts the work in networking


Inefficiencies in communication create inefficiencies in the work process


Knowledge is essential for successful client/freelancer transactions

Tangible Insight

In order to have a better vision of the life of freelancers, we tried to make the insight we got from the interview tangible.

We explored the whole process of freelancing a project.

Use freelance designer as an example:










Feedback loop

& communication









Tetris is used to mimic the whole process of a project in freelancers' daily work. Each block means one step.


We found there are some obstacles (red & green blocks in the photo) on the way to the end of the project which prolongs the timeline of the whole project:

1. Freelancers have a knowledge gap of freelance work.

2. Because freelancers work independently, they can not quickly ask for help when they meet problems.

3. Inefficient communication between the freelancer and the client.

​Tangible Insight: tetris​



To understand the market and the competitors within it, we first conducted an industry benchmark on content, features and channels.

​There are three main types of websites in the freelance market: freelance website to find work, freelance community and tools

for freelancers.


We found many freelance websites provide guides or tips for freelance work. But most of them look like this:

Screenshot from

We found:

1. Much of the information is unstructured and scattered among different platforms. Freelancers have to scan as many websites as possible to get what they want.

2. The information in one article is also complex and unstructured which is hard to follow.

3. Users may concern the professionalism of the information.

Design Principle

According to the insights we got, we translated these insights into the design language.


Give freelancers the opportunity to interact, cowork and get inspired by others who are working on similar things, while also giving them a chance to work on their own.


Give freelancers more control over their cadence, frequency and platforms of communication.


Make it easy for freelancers to connect and network with each other.  


Make the work process more visible to clients and provide access to educational resources to clients and workers on policies, SOWs, resources, etc.


How might we integrate learning into the freelance working environment?


The lack of ability to learn from others is a key issue for many freelancers, many of whom work independently, alone in coffee shops or in smaller cities. Because of this, we sought to provide an online platform that could provide a sense of community for freelancers as well as a place to share vital information about elements of the freelance process that some freelancers may miss out on because they work alone.

What informs our design?

According to the insights we got, we translated these insights into the design language.

Community with control

Give freelancers the opportunity to interact and learn from others while also giving them a chance to work on their own. Give them more control over their platform and cadence of communication. 


Provide more visibility into the work process and provide access to educational resources. 


Based on our research and conclusion, we build personas for our target user group.






Building on the conclusion we had from our research, we conducted an ideation session to brainstorm suitable and viable solutions to this challenge.

Solution brainstorm

Ideation MVP Testing

Based on the research of industry design trends and competitor applications, we selected two concepts from

our brainstorming.

Solution#1: Swap

Swap is a platform that matches freelancers to mentors to work on real projects and exchange skills.

Solution#2: What's Next

What's Next is a platform that gives freelancers access to relevant resources and information while also providing them with a sense of community through sharing.

In order to test which one is the better solution, we create two minimal viable products to test with our potential users to see their reaction to them. Based on their feedback, we chose solution#2 to continue.

The product


Based on our research, brainstorm and MVP test, we set the main goal and the value to the users for our platform.

What'sNext is a PGC-based guide platform for freelancers that gives freelancers access to relevant resources and information.


Check the

nuanced parts of the freelance work process anytime


Instead waiting for other's responses, What's Next gives freelancers a place where they can get what they want to know about freelance work process anytime they need.


A step by step

professional guide

& creating an online

co-learning environment

What'sNext provides hands-on learning process from certificated professionals. Meanwhile, users can see what is other people doing in this field, having an online co-learning experience.

Information architect & Prototype


User flow

I've created a user flow diagram to map every step of the user interaction when they use our platform.


Buidling wireframes to understand the architecture of the whole platform and pay attention to the detail.

Low-fidelity prototype, user test & iterating

We built the prototype and tested it in several rounds with a total of

twenty potential users. 


1. Show what the artifact looks like and annotate them for users

2. Allow users to choose which step in the timeline they would like to go to next

3. Profile specialization

4. Clear and concise interface


Creating a convincing tone of the platform and cleaning and uniformizing all the user interface elements were the main goal when designing the interface. 

Get started


Get started with What'sNext!

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Choose the industry


What'sNext provides customized work process for freelancers from different industry.

Breaking it Down


Users are met with a breakdown of the work process and what to expect - from getting clients to getting paid.

Help and Support


Users are guided through elements of the process such as drafting a contract. They are also able to see comments and anecdotes from other freelancers talking about their experiences. Users are also able to tell their stories.

Sample Contract


Users can look at and provide their information into a sample contract that they can then export or print out.

User can freely start and end the learning process. What'sNext save the working process automatically, so users can start where tehy ended before or choose to start a new section.



Users can provide the feedback for this step and the whole guideline will keep iterating as an open-source platform.


We also create a community element where other freelancers can share their own experiences, letting users get professional input as well as community guidance.