This was a group project during my 12 week UI/UX Design cohort at 10kdesigners.com. We're not affiliated with Terra.do in any capacity.
Notion, Figma, Figjam,
Online communities have emerged substantially in recent years. All of us spend a significant amount of time in such online communities these days for various purposes like work, entertainment, connecting with interesting people, etc. Our task was to conduct research on such an Internet community and identify problems and find potential solutions or products that can be designed for the users of the community.
Before we begin, let's meet the team.
Introduction to Terra.do
Terra.do operates as an online climate school. They collaborate with experts from the field to offer learners an overview of the entire climate landscape. It aims to inspire learners and its community members to work on climate change mitigation in different capacities.
They also support learners finding their way into climate jobs, this encompasses everything from part-time project work and activism to full-time employment and start-ups. The aim is to build a Global Terra community in which students who were part of the journey contribute to a real impact.
They offer various Cohort-based Courses, however, for this assignment we only stuck to the community built around their 12-week long flagship program — “Climate Change: Learning for action”. Every cohort member also joins Terra. do’s 1,000+ Slack community of fellows and mentors from all their programs.
Why did we choose Terra.do?
Terra.do is the first of its kind Cohort Based Course operating in the climate space, it would allow us to understand how they’ve built their community from scratch.
This is a large community-based organisation that completely operates online, which will give us easier access for reaching out to the community members.
As we already had a member of Terra.do’s Cohort (Yashu) among us, it seemed like the perfect decision since we could get access to their Slack channel and reach out to the community via Slack.
Users of Terra.do
People looking to transition into jobs in the climate space.
People who want to start their own venture.
People who want to educate themselves about climate change.
People who are happy with their existing jobs but want to adopt practices to tackle climate change.
This study seeks to understand how the community of Terra.do functions. Particularly, dive deep into how the members use slack channels and develop a deeper understanding of their mental models.
To understand the expectations and pain points of Terra community members.
In this research report, we are exploring the possible solutions that can be provided to members of an internet community .
List of identified problems in the community and suggestions for viable products/features/solutions.
Overview of our research
This research was done as part of an assignment in UI/UX Cohort (C4) of 10kdesigners over a period of 9 days.
Tools used by Terra.do
The course content is delivered through their website.
The live events, group lab sessions were all hosted in zoom.
The community operates on slack.
The Information architectures for Terra.do’s Course Homepage and Slack channel are presented below:
A whimsical link to our process flow and information architectures mentioned above can be found here.
Tools used for this project:
We connected synchronously through voice channels created in discord for our group and on Google Meet and asynchronously in discord through texts and voice notes. We also used Zoom meetings to conduct user interviews.
We’ve also used Figma, Figjam, Whimsical, Notion to brainstorm ideas and also for documentation.
It is difficult to synchronise the calendar organisation since it is not linked to the member’s Google account.
The user wishes to be a part of the Terra.do community even after completion of the course.
They have difficulty setting up meetings with people in different time zones.
Post cohort, users want to be updated about events in their fields of interest via mail.
Our research consisted of learning more about our niche- Cohort based courses, terra.do, the community of terra.do(secondary research).
This was followed by an interview (primary research) with the community manager Kirti Manian (to understand more about the community.)
We noted down the issues raised by the community manager and tried to look into possible solutions for the same (secondary research).
Formulated a questionnaire and conducted user interviews
Mapping the findings with users’ emotions, expectations and experience throughout various community activities.
1. Understanding our niche
What is a cohort-based course (CBCs)?
A cohort is a collaboration-focused program where a group works together to complete a program. Members attend the same live classes, complete the assignments, and study together. They also finish at the same time.
Benefits of cohort-based learning
There are many advantages to offering cohort-based programs. Cohorts offer students more opportunities to engage with the instructor and their learning community. Since students advance together, they share common interests and goals.
2. Interview with community manager:
We began our primary research by talking to one of the community managers from Terra.do.
Issues highlighted by the Community Manager:
She has noticed a considerable drop in engagement once the cohort has ended. Terra.do wants people to engage and return to the social community and its events after a cohort.
She does not believe in relying on a bot to communicate and engage with cohort members. She prefers adding personalisation for the same. However, as the community grows and scales up, she understands that this will become more difficult.
Once the pandemic situation has eased, people might not want to spend as much time online and community engagement may decline further.
This talk with the community manager helped us to formulate our hypotheses.
3. External Resources
a) Ed-Tech Companies & Student Retention:
People today want to learn and contribute to bringing meaningful change. Ed-tech companies can use this to empower their customers and grow their business at the same time with online education.This article throws light on how they can ace student retention:
b) Creative Community Engagement Strategies:
The benefits of community building and community engagement can be endless. The true value of an online community lies not in its size, but in its depth of engagement and this article mentions some useful strategies to increase the engagement in the communities:
c) Average Customer Retention Rate by Industry
Existing customers of any company largely contribute to the overall growth of that company. Through this article we discovered that the average retention rate of Ed-tech companies is 27%, in order to increase retention rate the various steps Ed-tech companies can take are create loyalty programs, promote freemium model (a business gives away services at no cost to the consumer to establish the foundation for future transactions), focus on customer satisfaction, and offer instant reward.
d) Rewarding Community Members:
Rewarding community members for engaging themselves in the community might add to the increase in engagement rate.There are two ways to reward the community members — extrinsic (physically tangible) & intrinsic (intangible).
4.User Interviews :
We interviewed 7 alumni members from previous cohorts on Zoom.
Preparation for interview:
For conducting interviews, we collectively built a questionnaire on Figjam to make sure we get a better understanding of user behaviours, patterns, and the problems they face while engaging with the community. We segmented these questions into 4 categories, as shown below, to distill out meaningful findings for the research.
We tried to keep the questions open-ended and made sure that we try to make the interaction with the user as conversational as possible.
Screenshots from user Interviews
Several users feel overwhelmed at the amount of information on slack at the beginning of the cohort.
Most users had trouble syncing the Terra calendar with their calendars.
Users faced difficulty in communicating with people outside of their time zone, especially during group assignments. Most users had to google about time zones every time they had to plan a meeting or a call with someone outside their time-zone.
People want to participate in events post cohort.
Most users would like Terra to put a bit more emphasis on the Job finding towards the end of the cohort.
Users wish to find jobs through effective networking.
Most of the users find topic-specific channels in the slack community very useful in enhancing their knowledge and interacting with fellow members.
Users find difficulty in accessing and navigating through slack archives.
Some users find it difficult to work on group assignments due to the short span of time allotted for it.
Users can’t access the cohort lessons on their phones and would love for content to be mobile-friendly.
5) Understanding user experience of terra.do
We posed questions to the interviewee about their emotions, expectations and experience of using terra website and slack and categorised various activities undertaken by the user into 5 broad categories to create the user empathy map below.
Empathy Map for Terra Users
Issues and Product Suggestions:
1. Drop in engagement rate post cohort:
Introduce Incentive/Perks Model:
The user gains points for engaging within the community, in its exchange terra.do will plant more trees (or invest in solutions to climate change)
Alternatively, as users gain points, these points are accumulated to reach checkpoints/levels (Level 1, Level 10, Level 25…& so on). Once the user crosses a certain check-point, they get access to the corresponding perk (such as a special webinar/access to a mentor/ Q&A session, etc.) A bot can be used in slack, that keeps track of your engagement reward progress in the slack channel, that can be invoked with a command to see the progress.
2. Maintain personalisation in the community without the usage of bots, as the community grows:
Assigning the volunteers to overlook and monitoring engaging cohort members and students individually.
3. Once the pandemic situation has eased, people might not want to spend as much time online.
Conducting online and offline social events for keeping the spirit of community alive.
4. Users missing live sessions because of terra.do calendar and personal calendar not being synced.
Fixing technical issues and sending reminders on slack a few minutes before the event .
5. Issues in organising a common time for meeting between people in different time zones.
Adopt Time-zone Butler Bot on slack. It can display individually relative time for each team member without bothering the others.
6.Terra.do should place More emphasis on the job search.
We understand that the availability of climate jobs in the market currently is less, Conducting more Job fairs during the cohort and post cohort would be something that the alumni wanted to see more of.
7.Having difficulty accessing Terra lessons through a mobile phone.
Terra.do could work on making course content mobile friendly.
Learnings and Takeaways
We got to experience the real-world scenario of how team members collaborate, work on projects and help each other in achieving their goals.
We also got to learn a very important and fundamental aspect of research which is framing and asking the right questions from the users.
Great feedback leads to growth. Our mentors gave us valuable feedback during the project that helped us understand the importance of storytelling and the perspective of readers in the case studies.
We’d like to thank all the readers, people who helped us in the research and awesome mentors from the 10kdesigners community for encouraging and giving us the opportunity to work on this assignment.
There’s always room for improvement and if you loved the case study or wish to give feedback/suggestions, reach out to us.
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