America’s private companies are the foundation of Inc.’s inception. Their struggles and successes drive editorial coverage and multi-million dollar, top-line revenue franchise programs, the crown jewel being the Inc. 5000. Companies across all programs account for the 99% of “small” business in the country. But their financial, workplace and cultural achievements often prove they are anything but little.
We focused on reimaging, redesigning and reengineering core user-experiences to align with current and future product develpment that increased revenue, brand recognition and/or growth.
1. Data collection, management and surfacing for more viable data and valuable user-specifc insights across multiple customer types
2. One hub to increase the visibilty of the overall benfit of franchise inclusion to customers (current and prospective) by showcasing all customer opportunities in one place, while giving editorial teams more variety to tell stories.
3. An enhanced company profile that began to provide a new foundation for more meaningful membership/community exploration.
TL;DR and wireframes below on each point, because I naturally love to nerd out on the details. The above is the jist of the major accomplishments our team made happen in one year, working from home, during a pandemic, and I couldn’t be more proud of much of the work.
The easiest way I often described the undertaking was that we were living in the house while remodling, part of it was on fire at times, and we had no money. But we fully believed in the foundation of that house, of the purpose that Inc. set out to be so many years ago, and we were determined to reset it for success for another 40 years.
Inc. 5000 Regionals
Inc. Best Workplaces
Inc. Founder-Friendly Investors
Inc. Best In Business
Inc. Middle Market - coming in fall 2021!
On average, Inc. collects data from 12,000+ comapnies a year. And that’s growing given the additoin of new franchices.
The data had power and value beyond what we were doing with it prior to 2019. The potential was always there, blindlingly so. Lead by a fellow PM, a beta data product launched in 2020.
In tandem, we also turned to the user-facing experience and mechanics of the onsite data experience. Both products gave us the ability to test assumptions in the market, something that had never been done before, while growing toward each other. One day, could that Excel file be a richer, paid, data experience with a customer base beyond venutre capitalists and investors. Yes! It! Could!
First, we had a real mess to unravel and reset. I’ll spare you the ugly details. Long story short: we had no data house. Data was everywhere.*
The core of the online product, the list and the company profiles, needed the most attention. The previous iteration lead users to dead ends upon filtering and search. Should you Google a company and follow that to their profile on Inc.com, you were dropped into a stream of hundreds if not thousands of companies, with no way to navigate (aka: continue to engage in a way that is directly meaningful to the user) the profiles from there.
This was great to deliver the business goal of ads and traffic, but it was a horrible user experience. And we could solve for both.
We implemented new search logic that will never lead a user to a dead end because we don’t allow a user to click on data that’s not there. We implemented company search that surfaces more companies as you type. We added tracking to all of this. We had never tracked the usability of these experiences before.
These features were first applied to the list page and all the other franchices while we collected infromation on how users were using them, and as we continued to rebuild our profile experience. The findings from search and filter on the list would help us define how to apply those features at the profile level down the road.
One of the main goals of the hubs beyond housing multiple customer touchpoints, was to allow editorial to surface more companies by giving the more ways to tell and share those stories.
Prior to the redesign, the focus was on the No. 1 company. A natural inclination. But that company, year-over-year, while impressive, didn’t ultimately represent a majroity of the list. Their growth was so exponential, it literally set them in a completely different universe. How can we surface more companies, beyond the first 10 a user sees on the list?
We zeroed in opportunites in the editorial requirements that would allow for more than one company to be represented.
To give internal teams versatility in their storytelling and program management, we developed modular components. The system allowed for displays of multiple visual variations, with multiple companies represented, as well as positioning in multiple places across inc.com given content assets and business goals -- without needing developer resources beyond implementation of new modules or additions to the CMS.
This was a key to success not only for the editorial and direct-to-consumer teams to move fast and freely without being held back by the long list of prioritizations in the product queue, but to also free up our limited developer resources.
Inc. 5000 Regionals These two programs get the most attention, so modules, UX/UI updates, etc, trickle down to all other programs. A flexible template system, if you will, with the ability to turn on/off specificity and detail at the CMS level.
Before the redesign, when a user navigated to a specific comapny profile, they were delivered into a stream of anywhere from 350-5,000+ profiles, depending on the franchise, with no way to search or filter. We often heard internally, “People will just scroll, it’s fine.” Hmmm. Is it? This wasn’t sexy Instagram content or friends you were checking in on. This thinking served the purpose of delivering an ad imperssion. It lost sight of the users ability to continue to engage with the site in a way that was meaningful to them without having to do so much work. We knew we could solve both problems.
But first, if any users were using these profiles, what were they using them for? To find other companies like them? To find other companies to do business with? Do the companies that win actually use these profiles? We didn’t know, as there was no prior user research or tracking.
When we ran a small user survey of past 5000 honorees in late 2019, the number one, overarching requirement that surfaced was that they wanted, desparately, to connect to each other, through Inc. So we began to rebuild the profile foundation with an eye toward providing value in a membership and community model in the future.
We purposefully started small here as we spent time learning more about what the value was to the user, and to gather data on what filter + search perimiters user were engaging with the most from tracking we had set on the list-level filters, so that we could ultimately have the same filter + search experience in both places.