Credibility on Quora

Summer 2015


Mission

As a Product Design Intern at Quora, I made improvements to the platform's user credibility features.

Quora faces an intriguing set of social design challenges in their quest to create a lively and civil public sphere for people to share knowledge and opinions. One such challenge is to help readers understand why they should trust an answer written by another person on Quora. Thus, biographies were launched as a way for people to describe their experience with a given topic. During my internship, I focused on getting users to add more quality bios.

Designers at Quora are generalists, so I was responsible for what I designed from start to finish: brainstorming, iterating on visual and interaction design, implementing front-end code, testing, validating, and launching. Along the way, I worked with the other designers, software engineers, and product managers on my team for feedback.

The Process

I began by looking into the foundational user needs that drive the biography system.

Quorans need their own bios to:

  • demonstrate how trustworthy their answer is so that other Quorans acknowledge the value of their answer
  • express themselves and develop reputation on Quora

Quorans need other people's bios to:

  • understand why someone is a good person to answer their question
  • understand who another Quoran is, what they do, know, and think
  • decide who to ask to answer a question

I then looked at the existing ways users interacted with bios to identify which features could be improved and where the system was lacking:

  • users lacked the context to understand what a good bio is, why bios are important, and which topics they had expertise in
  • Quora's topic ontology includes ones that are difficult to qualify experience in. For example, how could a user describe their experience in the topic "Life and Living"?
  • the biography editing interface on desktop and mobile was unintuitive and frustrating, rather than encouraging
  • thus, users often wrote bios that were unhelpful to others, false, irrelevant, or offensive

Taking this needfinding and product analysis into consideration, I brainstormed a set of improvements and prioritized them based on expected impact.

Biography Interface

I improved the biography editing interface on mobile and desktop, which resulted in users adding more bios that were helpful to others.

The bio editing interface is critical to helping users develop a sound mental model for the biography system at large. I needed to explain the value of adding good bios to answers, and I need to make it easy for users to do so.

Exploring possible editing interface taskflows

Request Bios

In an effort to increase the number of answers with good bios, I tested a feature called Request Bios, which allowed users to request bios from one another when a bio was missing on an answer. I reasoned that Quora already had several features where Quora as an entity asked users to add bios, but perhaps users would be more motivated to add a bio if the request came from a real person.

If users requested a bio on an answer you wrote, you would receive a notification that looked like this:

Hovercards

To help users quickly learn more about a person or topic on Quora, I designed and launched Hovercards. As the Quora community grows, it is critical to give users quick and easy ways to understand other users and topics they come across.

I brainstormed a number of iterations which included signals like:

  • how active or popular a user is using follower counts and view counts
  • what topics a user knows about and writes about often
  • verification badges, Most Viewed, and Top Writer badges
  • recent activity

See the product update blog post on Quora

Exploring possible hovercard formats