Nextdoor is a private social network for neighborhoods that positions itself as a bridge between the online and offline. It started as a way for neighbors to get to know each other and since the beginning local businesses have been a part of the conversation. Features have been built to support this, but up until recently businesses were quite limited in what they could do on the platform. This started to change in 2018 as my team launched Local Deals, one of many features that enables businesses to reach the people that who closest to them.
I joined the team right as we were building the MVP. There was a very basic product and it was only live in one pilot area in Austin. Since then I helped launch the MVP, a paid pilot, national launch and international expansion. We over performed on our revenue goals by 2x-3x times every quarter and delivered over 3M+ — all for a completely new product, all with zero paid marketing, all within just 12 months.
As the sole designer on the team, I designed every screen on all platforms and contributed significantly to product, QA and research. I partnered closely with engineering to design a scalable product infrastructure, delivered multiple usability studies and was involved in field research across the US.
The local deals experience for members comprises of discovery, redemption and reengagement. Members can find deals in the newsfeed, search and on business pages. They can then save it for later and redeem it in-person or online.
The first version of our redemption experience was really tailored for restaurants and physical retail stores. In our paid pilot we saw significant interest from home and garden categories where the redemption doesn't happen in a retail store and often doesn't have a discount code. I worked on an updated experience that also optimized for these low frequency but high value transactions.
Here's how Local Deals works:
The business side of the local deals product was complex as it was essentially Nextdoor's very first self-serve advertising platform. We went through three major design phases:
The first version was a basic but effective flow that allowed businesses to create deals. It served as the foundation for our pilot in Austin as we learned about the kinds of content businesses were creating.
Launched Q2 2019 — Major improvements to content quality, hyperlocal targeting as Local Deals becomes revenue generating.
This was a major release as we started charging for deals. Once a dollar is attached to any service the expectation changes dramatically. To help businesses and members get more out of deals we doubled down on content quality. I pushed forward, designed and helped launch contextual inline tips to help businesses write better copy. I also designed a revamped photo uploader with stock photos. Finally I completely redesigned our neighborhood targeting tool that has had a huge impact to the businesses which I talk more about here.
We launched a redesigned composer, photos, targeting and payments experience.
Q4 2019 — Accelerating workflows and designing for scale with a new UI architecture.
This redesign is focused on improving the navigation architecture and accelerating workflows. Repeat posting rate is a tracked metric for this product and the new design reduces a 5 step process to a 1 step process. It also adds a persistent preview which aims to elevate content quality in addition to many other quality of life UI improvements. Finally the new design architecture scales to new product verticals beyond Local Deals, including Posts, Events and beyond.
Moving from a linear flow to a 'hub and spoke' navigation model makes reposting dramatically easier. On desktop this allows for a split view with a persistent preview. This content creation architectures scales beyond deals to other potential verticals like Events, Posts and Polls.
A sample of real Local Deals created by local businesses across the US.
Local Deals has been a success. It has validated there is enormous demand from our members and businesses that Nextdoor can be a thriving platform for local commerce. The revenue story has been especially surprising as we saw 2-3x our projected quarter OKR every single quarter and our average order price were 5-6x our projections. This was driven in part by an incredible enthusiasm from service providers like contractors. There is still such much work to be done to support small local businesses in the US and across the world.
• 3M+ in revenue with a year.
• Overperformed revenue OKR by 2-3x every quarter.
• Over 1000+ deals created.
• Success of Local Deals greenlit multiple other projects.
• 1 design patent application.
The hardest thing about this project was being the only designer. I had to make tough decisions around what to ship, what to compromise on and what we absolutely needed to get right. Sometimes it felt like we were in a fast moving train but were also laying the tracks at the same time. Local Deals was a totally new product and the vision was to build not one but a suite of tools for businesses. As a designer it meant I had to design for scalability and extreme flexibility. At the same time, the interface had to be lightweight for the team to move at a high velocity, especially during the phase of finding product market fit.
James Wang © 2021