Juice Labs is a community committed to developing each other by sharing our skills and knowledge in design, development, and digital marketing. We do this by hosting evening dinner events and inviting local industry experts to share their victories and challenges as well as run workshops to adopt industry best practices. We value being real and authentic and believe that by building each other up, we can help impact the people and businesses we care about.
One of the biggest frustrations people keep saying is how awkward it is when meeting new people at networking events. I was surprised that even seasoned designers who have been in the industry for over 10 years still find it to be true. Based on my local research and conversations with other freelancers in Vancouver, I found that there aren't a lot of places where freelancers can come and learn from each other but instead just did their own thing.
I assembled a team and decided to apply UX principles to event planning. We created an event experience that redesigned the way people connected. We wanted a casual environment so people would feel comfortable to be themselves and make it easy to meet new people as well as catch up with old friends. We also decided to start the evening with a warm family style dinner to ease our guests into the environment after a busy day at work. One thing we wanted to give to our guests was something tangible and practical to take home after leaving the event so we try to include an activity or exercise to physically put into practice what the guest speaker was sharing that evening. We didn't want our guests to leave feeling inspired but with no plan of action. After each event, we would receive feedback from our guests saying how interactive and engaging the evening was for them and gained an average rating of 8/10. Not bad from something that started from a simple idea!
UX application to Event Planning | Project Management | Public Speaking
Juice Labs was birthed out of a curiosity to "experiment" new ways to connect people together while at the same time inspire others to get their "creative juices" flowing and share their ideas. It started with a simple idea. "What if we can create a community where designers, developers, and digital marketers can come together and share our knowledge and resources to raise the standard in our craft?" The idea quickly picked up momentum and within a year, Juice Labs has successfully hosted 5 evening events with up to 40 participants attending through word of mouth. We bring industry experts as guest speakers to share on topics the community wants to grow in and have a great time meeting new people over a family style dinner.
One of the first challenges of entering into a new industry is the lack of connections of people, resources, and knowledge of other disciplines within the field. During the time of my early bootcamp days as a designer, I found it challenging to find enough time to understand what developers and digital marketers did exactly but realized that since our interaction overlapped so often on projects, it would benefit to learn how they think and operate so we can better collaborate. I found that there were plenty of meetup groups within our own disciplines but there weren't a lot of multi-discipline groups to learn from. The more I looked into it, the more I realized how uncomfortable people found networking events to be and the missed opportunity of building collaborative relationships. One fairly new occurrence that is taking shape in the tech industry is the increasing amount of new grads from tech bootcamps flooding into the market and the lack of available resources or platforms for continual professional development.
The purpose and goals of Juice Labs are threefold:
As the saying goes, "Practice makes perfect". These were lessons we learned along the way as we iterated and improved after each event.
A big part of making these events happen is having a system and being organized with the logistics of planning. This is where the inner nerd in me loves designing the operations of all the tasks on my new favourite app, Notion. It's google drive, notes, and Trello all into one...and then some. Below is an overview of how I created the engine behind Juice Labs.
Please refer to events above.
When it all comes down to it, it's all about the people. I learned that although it's important to utilize technology and create systems in place, it's more important to focus on how it can improve the experience of the people. In this case, we applied UX principles to quickly identify the problems people had with networking events and iterated and improved upon the feedback until people was satisfied with the events. At Juice Labs, we'll continually learn to improve and innovate the way people connect.