Case Study: Forging collaboration and human-centred design thinking for a growing start-up

Oct 4, 2022 | Case Studies

Harnessing the power of a remote team while improving both company and user experience strategy. Blending UX methodology, workshop facilitation and design team management, UX, my dear was able to improve cross-company collaboration, product logic and ways of working within the product design team. 

Company: Steady

Industry: Digital Platform

Size: 20+ employees


Working with the creator economy

Steady is a subscription-based membership platform supporting independent creators across all platforms helping creators grow and get paid for what they do.

Oftentimes independent content makers undervalue their content and what they’re creating – this is where Steady comes in – helping content creators get paid and understand their contributions as a real source of income and value.

It’s an exciting space to be in, but there is strong competition from the likes of Patreon, Substack, Memberful and Buy Me A Coffee, which means that the company needs to be competitive, stand out and be reactive to customer demands. 

The creator economy has masses of potential, but creators are frustrated by the increasing pressures on distribution and reach. They are restricted by social media algorithms, prevented from owning their content and followers, and face exorbitant costs for running ads. All this makes for a highly restrictive creative environment. 

In this climate, Steady’s strong vision to help creators stay independent and monetize their content without compromise is an appealing one. Plus their passion for independence translates into actual benefits, such as allowing creators to publish free newsletters and owning their own community, instead of being heavily reliant on big platforms. 

Learn how human-centred design thinking made a difference for a growing start-up. UX My Dear

The situation

Like many other start-ups Steady had grown rapidly and expanded the team but also had to deal with a lot of change and restructuring. In order to support their future growth and create a clear value proposition inside and out, it was time to hone their value proposition,  processes, behaviours and ways of working. More cross-team collaboration was needed within Design, Product and Engineering but also across the whole company.

The company also needed to show continued growth on the platform but was unclear about its direction and where to focus its resources and energy.

Coupled with the pandemic, the now mostly remote team lacked the synthesis needed to create a strong value proposition for the user that was consistent across the company. 

On the product design side, the team were operating without a full understanding of user journeys, flows and lacked standardisation of deliverables. As the teams had grown exponentially, the main focus had always been speed and execution – to the detriment of clarity and structure, which very easily happens. 

Clearly, this worked for a while, but it was time for a re-set and a more strategic approach to measuring results, applying test & learn principles and getting back to collaboration and truly diverse, mixed-discipline teams dedicated to clear project work. 

The challenge

We needed to look at how to bring the focus back to the user, their jobs to be done and the way the product would be supporting this to truly help creators grow and members discover content they love.  

The challenge for UX, my dear, was to bring human-centred design thinking into the company, improve cross-team collaboration and develop better remote ways of working.

The solution

While quickly getting to the heart of what we needed to do, Talke also identified behaviours, processes and core values that needed to be implemented and embedded into the ‘DNA’ of our organisation in order for us to be able to implement purpose-led strategic change at pace.

Hilary Laing, COO/CFO at Steady

Insights mapping

Once an experience review was conducted – and the management team was convinced that more user-focus and strategic direction was needed, the next step was to map out existing insights and the latest work in the fields of Performance Marketing, Brand and Product Design to form the baseline for further strategy work. 

User Journey Mapping

In parallel, we had to get a better understanding across departments around key user journeys and user groups for two reasons:

  1. A more joined-up in-house flow of information
  2. To understand pain points and gain points more clearly in order to then optimize where it was most needed.

Design Team Workflows

Working with the Product Design team, we introduced a few standard design deliverables to better communicate with other teams and get better at both concepting out big ideas, and then distilling them back down into actionable flows and designs. . We also practised and applied data-driven decision-making, building KPIs and forming well-reasoned theories to then test, learn and iterate from. 

Ways of Working

The team had no tools that were used company-wide to manage remote workshops or brainstorming sessions. On the way to more collaboration, we introduced Miro as a standard way of working for remote deep dive and working sessions, concepting work and requirements gathering exercises.

Together we developed Miro templates, cover sheets and standards for kick-off meetings and to map out flows, concepts and issues affecting the whole funnel and user experience.

Design and Company Strategy

In terms of tackling the strategic vision for the company’s next steps from a user experience  perspective,  UX, my dear worked with the management team and key team members to formulate the “content in context” strategy which could then be applied both front-of-house and in the sales funnel, as well as executed on the product design and dev side.

Workshop Facilitation

Across the space of 6 months we ran various remote working sessions and deep dives, as well as on-site workshops.

These started as remote sessions to build empathy and understanding before moving to an offsite, in-person LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY workshop

Data-driven decision-making

Our work also looked at ensuring the product design team included KPIs in its thinking. This involved coaching on what to track and how to measure success. Also how to use this data to iterate and optimise performance post go live.

The results

Talke positively impacts teams and outcomes from day one!

Dr Tina Dingel, CEO of Steady

Talke’s professional style and transparent communication means that everyone is clear about what they and the organisation will gain from fully participating and this in turn ensures everyone, including senior leaders, can be fully involved.

Hilary Laing, COO/CFO at Steady

Using a blend of UX tools and workshop facilitation, UX, my dear was able to help Steady develop better human-centred ways of working and collaborating.

The product design team were given the methodology and tools to be able to offer Steady users a stand-out, competitive user experience.

A data-driven product roadmap was also created with features that married up with the new strategy and solved for the pain and gain points identified in the user journey map. 

Plus, we were able to establish more effective ways of working for a remote team, with better deliverables, and better collaboration. 

Our custom workshops also ensured all areas of the business were aligned with Steady’s vision of the new strategy and that employees were committed and engaged.

I’m resistant to trying new things and this was my first experience “bonding using LEGO,” but I enjoyed this session much more than I expected.

Johannes, Sales Team at Steady

Want to work with me?

If you are a start-up that has recently outgrown its ways of working or need to scale, then I can provide the outside-in perspective you need.

Book a free 30-minute consultation to see how you can create better products and data-driven human-centred design thinking for your business.

More about the company

Steady is a platform created for creators by creators. Founded in 2016 with its headquarters in Berlin, today it operates globally but focuses on the European market offering data storage that adheres to EU regulations. 

At the end of 2021, Steady had 1,500 subscribers, 150,000 memberships and had paid out €20 million in membership fees to publishers. Today,  they serve independent content makers across all platforms and channels from Instagram to blogging and podcasting. 

Some of their renowned publishers using Steady include GAY TIMES, gal-dem, The Quietus, Louie Media, Slow News, and Krautreporter.