with the expansion of the base of performers (actors and models), customers (casting directors and agents) faced a lack of moderation of profiles. their castings were often attended by people who made up appearances and altered photos.
an influx of complaints and suggestions prompted the team to take on a portfolio verification system, which took two years to develop, moving from one functionality to another, but first things first.
verification in itself is familiar to many - it is some kind of verification, confirmation, or method of proof by comparing some data with others for consistency with the truth.
in our case, we meant checking the basic criteria - photos, body parameters and appearance.
basically, we had to answer ourselves a few questions:
- how it helps customers and talent;
- what the customer's journey will be;
- who will moderate;
- what costs will arise;
- how the product will work on this
the answers to these questions subsequently formulated not only a common understanding of the task, but also the goals the product was intended to achieve. among these are the aggregation of talent in the media space, their quick search with filtering and access, security for both parties, affiliate programs, and much more.
and while the team was working on this task, there were already vast opportunities on the horizon for a change in the product business model.
first and foremost we have always thought about customers, how much this or that functionality will be useful to them, so we were sure - verification will open up opportunities for customers that they did not have before. from searching by appearance to reducing the cost of conducting castings.
however, for the sake of speed, the first version of verification was launched without any preliminary tests. for this reason, the performers' user-flow has become full of mediocre features, and its stages include not only ordering a service and paying for it, but also searching for a photographer, correspondence with the manager and setting the display in the profile.
the product was supposed to make money on this, but a simple photo and parameter check by moderators could not recoup all the costs of this task. including, we could not give guarantees to customers that a fraudster pretending to be someone else would not come to them.
so it was decided to enter into partnerships with photo studios and close turnkey verification. thanks to this we could not only control all the processes, but also sell them at a more favourable cost. thus, when ordering a service, the client received professional work of a photographer and a manager.
while the photographer was only supposed to take photos and measurements, the manager was supposed to check the measurements against the questionnaire according to the guidelines.
the problem with this version was the high costs, which meant paying for the promotion of the service, the studio, the time of the photographer, the manager and the entire team behind the development. to reach a zero or plus return on investment it was necessary to maintain sales, not dropping below 15 requests per week.
the first version of verification came out in the summer of 2018. it included customisation of the talent profile, studio feed, photographers' personal accounts, internal messenger, and all sorts of edge cases.
the customer journey began with a landing page, where he learned about the opportunities that will open to him after verification.
then he had the opportunity to choose a studio and a photographer by available portfolios. after paying for the order, he was taken to a separate section where the status of the service was tracked.
there was a messenger inside the order, which was accessible not only to the client, but also to the photographer. it was used to coordinate the dates of the photo shoots, assess the quality of photos and resolve possible disputes with the manager.
the next step was for the client to confirm the publication of photos previously uploaded by the photographer in a separate layout in his profile.
the whole process took up to 3-5 days, and although the service was attractive, the time was not the only disadvantage. customers were lost in the interface because of the many functions that have no effect on the verification of profiles.
we were not going to stop there, which is why after the first release we immediately started fixing major bugs. so, in winter 2019, the verification update came out.
for the six months we had, we decided to terminate partnerships with studios and photographers on outsourcing due to their lack of interest in the result. so our team was joined by a full-time photographer who has his own studio.
in addition to updating the photographers' and checking managers' work guideline, recommendations were added for clients, where what to do and how to do it.
cjm's were built, which opened our eyes to the imperfections of the interface and scripts. thanks to them, ideas to simplify the functionality went beyond the discussion and entered the new release.
however, due to the seasonality of auditions, sales of verification began to fall, the service began to bring losses, and this prompted the team to think further.
the summer of 2019 gave a new round of development of the service. this time we devoted time to you-tests, in-depth interviews, surveys and collecting feedback from all corners of support. in addition to understanding what customers expected from us in the new version, we decided to slightly change the vector in which we moved previously.
if in the second version we gave up on outsourced photographers, then in the third version we gave up on in-house. earlier hypotheses on how we could build client trust through our own verification centres and our own photographers did not meet expectations and turned out to be expensive.
a year after the first release, customers began to be more relaxed about the slight difference between the data from the questionnaire and reality, which led us to hypothesise self-made shoots and personal portfolios.
with the new format of verification, we still had a manager, but in the face of technical support, which checked the self-made photo on the correctness of the elementary recommendations (photo quality, number of photos, posing).
in addition to the publication of images in the database of professionals, we decided to offer a separate personal portfolio site without branding, associated with the product only a subdomain and a mini footer.
the demand for this service exceeded the expectations of the team, receiving more than 20 requests per week. the new concept not only simplified the interaction to just pay for the service, it also allowed customers to publish a link in their social networks and agencies. this helped us to increase monthly organic traffic and attendance by 3 times to ~8000 visits and 1.5 times to ~15000 unique users respectively.
the last release, which took place in late fall 2019, allowed to relieve technical support in terms of the need to check the photo. henceforth, recommendations were given directly when filling out professions. this measure became possible only because of the update of profiles.
profiles, references, and layouts of personal sites with portfolios have also been updated.