Handshake App

The project

Handshake is a project management and invoicing app for freelancers and small business owners. This fictional app was my project during the UX Writing certificate course from the UX Content Collective (formely known as UX Writers Collective).

I present the key results of my work in the following.

Startscreen Handshake

My role:

During the project, it was my job to support the product as a UX Writer and use my input to make this an app that is easy to use, fun to use, while also serving the company’s business purpose.

To achieve this, I analyzed our competitors, our potential customers and the user-typical environment. 

Adding all this gathered information, I finally developed a strong, unique brand personality with a coherent tone and voice, which I used to bring the product and eventually the app to life.

Mentimeter (Polls, Word Clouds, Presentations)
Typeform (Surveys)
Google Surveys (Surveys)
Google Trends (Trend search)
CorelDraw 2021 (Graphics)
Paint.NET (Photo Editing)
Figma (Mockups)
Congree (Terminology Database)
Adobe Indesign (Styleguides)
Hemingway Editor (Readability Checker)
Slack (Communication with Team)
Atlassian Jira (Project Management)

Table of Contents

Given facts about the Handshake app

User functionalities


Freelancers pay Handshake a 1% fee of their earnings once they get paid.

Small business owners

Small business owners use the app for free.

The app is „shared“ by both user types. Depending on which user type logs in, they receive their own view of the app with individual application options.

Handshake's user tasks

Persona profiles

My persona analysis and some ideas

When analyzing the personas, I have identified the most important and most interesting key points for my work, which I kept in mind for the ongoing project.

Finding the right voice & tone concept

My approach

During the process of finding the right voice & tone concept, there were many aspects for me to consider. I asked myself:

  • How do our competitors sound?
  • How do we sound at present, and how would we like to sound in the future?
  • What are our values and mission (and what do we want to express)?
  • How do our customers want to be addressed?
  • What feelings do our customers go through when completing their business tasks?
  • Could customers have concerns, fears, worries using our product? Or are there anticipations and expectations that must definitely be met or even exceeded? (Excitement needs, performance needs [Kano model])
  • How can we transform customers‘ negative feelings into neutral or even positive feelings with the help of Voice & Tone?
  • And above all: What do we definitely not want to sound like?

In addition to a comprehensive competitor analysis, where I summarized  the results in a voice & tone profile for each competitor (primarily to avoid Handshake sounding exactly like any of the competitors), I created a series of interview questions that we asked all our employees from throughout the company.

In conjunction with our mission statement, we created an initial voice and tone profile for Handshake.

As we progressed, I designed surveys that we would sent out to potential users. Based on the results, I worked with the team to create our declarative statements that are our guiding principles to strive for. 

This was an iterative and transparent process that always involved all employees (through sentiment surveys, quick polls, etc.).

Some examples of the documents I created to crystallize a tone & voice profile

Hypothetical assumption of the feelings a first-time user of our app might have (Click to zoom in)
Example of survey questions (Click to zoom in)
Result of my competitor analysis according to "The Four Dimensions of Tone of Voice" - N.N.Group (Click to zoom in)

Further action: Style guide and terminology database

This was followed by the creation of a binding content style guide and the establishment of a termbase to ensure that all communication with our users follows and applies a consistent approach. 

Because I know how important accessibility and relevance are when using guidelines, I have chosen a central repository for the guidelines and the terminology database. A sophisticated roles and rights concept was implemented with the possibility of passing on suggestions and changes to responsible persons.

This guarantees that anyone can access them at any time, that changes do not pass unnoticed, and that colleagues are encouraged to collaborate. 

Given task: Landing page rewrite

Task description

Task description

My landing page rewrite

Rewrite - Comparison (click to zoom in)

Given task: Write an email for freelancer who just signed up to use the Handshake app for the first time. 

My version of a welcome email (click to zoom in)

Given task: Write an email for a freelance customer who just canceled their account.

My version of a cancellation email (click to zoom in)

Given task: Mockup redesign

Task description

Task description

My approach

After reviewing the mockups I was given, I first did a brief analysis of the current state, sketching out what I thought needed improvement.

Then, using the style guide I created, I redesigned the mockups, taking into account the terminology entries to make sure to be consistent.

I also considered my thoughts and ideas about the personas and added elements for an improved user journey.

Additionally, I added comments to these redesigned mockups to have a dialogue with the whole product team and see what we can implement together and how we can do it.

Given designs with my brief analysis of them (click on entry)

My redesign – Different options to become a Handshake user (click on entry)

My redesign – The dashboard 

Suggestions @Product team:

We need a proper dashboard that motivates users to use the app and makes it easy to use.

Project selection: What we should definitely consider is that each user group can handle several projects in our app at the same time. This means we need to provide a drop-down menu in the dashboard so that users can quickly switch between projects.
Of course, it should also be possible to create a new project directly from the dashboard.

Project summary:
A project summary right on the dashboard would have the following advantages for our users:
– It motivates.
– It makes them want to use the app.
– It provides a quick overview of the progress of the project.

The different indicators of the project summary should be arranged (and labelled) differently for freelancers and business owners, because both have different interests in using the app. 
We should find out (via research/interview/usability test) what  motivates/interests each user group the most.
My assumption is that the freelancers are motivated to see how much they have already earned in the project, while the business owners are probably most interested in seeing when the project is finished.

Managing board: The dashboard should be the hub of the app. All actions should be possible from there. My suggestion would be that, depending on the project phase, the CTAs on the Managing board change or become active or inactive, in order to always offer the user exactly what he actually needs. 

Message board (see below) 

Account settings:
Maybe someone has a good idea how to label the icon or if it needs a label at all. (Perhaps we should test this in a usability test to see if it can do without labelling).

We should definitely provide something like user settings to allow the user to update their user information, set notifications, adjust privacy settings, read the terms of use, enter bank details (so we can charge the fee), etc.

My redesign – The message board

We should set up a message board right on the dashboard that looks just like any other messenger, without the user having to click unnecessary buttons to open messages. (This is very cumbersome and will definitely lead to users jumping off and finding the whole process too complicated and half-baked.)

You can see above how such a message board could look like during the whole user journey.

System messages and actions: In addition, I think it would be very helpful if we use this message board not only for the chat, but also to send system messages to give users an overview of what is going on as well as action shortcuts. 

Tell a friend (after end of project):  According to our personas, our app is very often recommended by other users via hearsay, so we should give the possibility to tell friends about it out of the app. 

Refer a friend: We might want to think about turning Tell a friend into Refer a friend. We could make attractive offers, such as the first project completion without a handshake fee, and at the same time reward the freelancer by offering a bonus program or something similar. Let’s discuss that in our next meeting. 

My redesign – Freelancer actions (click on entry)

My redesign – Business owner actions (click on entry)

My redesign – Managing account 

In order not to overload the screens, I would suggest to offer a menu where more information can be viewed, bank details can be entered, the appearance of the app in general can be changed according to personal preferences and requirements (e.g. for visually impaired people who need a different contrast) and also the projects can be managed (e.g. moved to an archive.) We could also think about offering something like an evaluation across all projects, so that the freelancers can see how long they work on a project on average etc.

Final notes 

Reach agreement within the team

The analysis of our personas gave me some ideas that I included in the revision of the mockups. All these ideas now need to be discussed and evaluated with the entire team, probably as part of a design sprint. Certainly, some ideas are more costly to implement than others. Resources must be balanced. The highest goal should be to offer the greatest possible benefit to users while taking into account all the costs we face.

Test with users

Of course, it is essential that we involve the users in our development process. This can happen in a number of ways. Remote sessions or A/B tests show us their reactions to our initial and revised mockup versions and help us figure out the improvements and identify weaknesses.
With the help of eye-tracking or heat maps, we could determine how users go through our workflow and where they might get stuck.
To refine UX writing, we could run a highlighter test to make sure our word choices make sense to users and create positive emotions and trust. We need to make sure we’re using the right scientific methods to evaluate the results and come to the right conclusions. 

Be better than our competition

Since the competitor analysis showed that there are some very good direct competitors, we have to ensure that we are the ones who have the more appealing design, the easier usability, the best features, and the more coherent concept – all conveyed through easy-to-understand, engaging texts that make it easy for users to feel at home in the app, complete their tasks, and keep coming back. Only then will it be possible to prevail on the market and thus be profitable.

Feedback and grading